Why is My Fluorescent Light Tripping the GFCI Breaker?

Written by david hill
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Why is My Fluorescent Light Tripping the GFCI Breaker?
Fluorescent lights and other appliances may trip a GFCI breaker for several reasons. (Fluorescent overhead lamp in office image by Alexey Kuznetsov from Fotolia.com)

A GFCI breaker that trips whenever you turn on a fluorescent light, your television or plug in a hair dryer can become a nuisance. Although the term nuisance tripping can give the wrong type of impression, GFCI breakers may trip due to several different circumstances and should be treated seriously in every case.

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Cables, connectors, wires and plugs that are wet or have had water damage occur may cause nuisance tripping when plugged in or used. Keep all electrical components and equipment such as power tools and extension cords dry.


In a circuit, the wire responsible for dispersing electrical leakage safely may not be connected properly, causing changes to the overall current of the circuit. When the circuit overheats due to this, it can burn out power transformers and cause damage to the GFCI breaker.


The distance between the control and main power panels may cause the amps in the circuit to fluctuate enough to trip the breaker. Larger wires can help prevent changes over distance and prevent the GFCI breaker from nuisance tripping.

Unbalanced Loads

Appliances which turn on and off frequently may cause enough of a disturbance in the circuit to cause a trip. Larger appliances can be moved to their own circuits to prevent nuisance tripping.

High Amps

The GFCI breaker installed may be at too low of an amperage to handle the electrical loads of the circuits. Check to make sure that your appliances are not drawing more power than the breaker can handle.

Faulty Breaker

GFCI breakers can wear out over time. Some GFCI breakers may not work correctly due to damage done while manufacturing or shipping. If the breaker trips during the manual test many times it may be overly sensitive or have worn parts. Try using a new GFCI breaker of the same amperage.

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