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Electrical Wire and Cable

Light Fixture Trips Off a GFI

By Dave Rongey - Summary:

Should lights be wired onto a GFI protected circuit?

Cause of Light Tripping a GFI

Question: I recently installed a recessed can light, receiving my hot and neutral from the load side of  a GFI. I have 110 volts current to the light fixture, but the GFI trips when the switch is tuned on. Should I locate a circuit that is not on GFI to operate this light fixture. Thanks Dave .

This electrical question came from: Chris, from Mc Henry, Illinois

See more about Home Wiring for Illinois

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical question Chris
Light Fixture Circuit Wiring
Chris, typically light fixtures are not required to be on a GFI circuit unless the light fixture is located directly above a shower or bath tub area for example. If a light fixture is added to a GFI circuit it should not cause the GFI to trip off, so it would be best to check the wiring connections and make sure that the wiring that is located in the junction box of the recessed can light have not been damaged. With some brands of recessed can lights it is very easy to have a wire get stuck between the cover plate and the junction box enclosure which can cause a pinched wire that will create a direct short, which can in turn cause the GFI to trip off.

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2 Responses to “Light Fixture Trips Off a GFI”
  1. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi John,
    When working on a crowded switch box there is always the possibility of a bare ground wire that does not get tucked into the back of the box, and the bare wire gets too close to a neutral or hot terminal screw. I would check to make sure that the ground wires are away from the switch for the overhead light. There could be a problem with the wiring of the light circuit which will require some troubleshooting. Begin by simply unscrewing the bulb in the overhead light fixture and see if the GFI still trips off. Electrical Troubleshooting involves identifying and examining each element of the circuit, then inspect and verifying that each is wired and installed correctly. There is also the possibility that you have a faulty GFI, so try swapping out the new GFI with the original GFI and see it you still have the same problem, if not then take back the GFI and exchange it for another.
    I hope this helps,

  2. John Fatheree says:

    I replaced ivory plugs and switches in a kitchen with white. One triple box had a GFI, a switch for a disposal (Not installed) and a switch for an overhead light. I put everything back the same way it came out but now when I turn on the overhead light the GFI trips. What can be wrong?