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When designing a space with electrical outlets, it’s always important to assess ways to improve the safety of the space. Whether you are designing a brand new start-up facility or even if you are just remodeling your own kitchen at home, it is imperative to arm yourself with safety knowledge.

A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) is a unique device developed for just that reason. GFCI shuts off an electrical circuit if it detects that the current is flowing through an unintended path. And in spaces with water and people for example, this device can be life-saving.

3 BENEFITS OF GFCI OUTLETS IN YOUR DESIGN

Reduces Chances of Human Injury

 

Electric shocks can cause a lot of harm to a person. With possible injuries ranging from severe burns to heart problems, GFCI truly can be a life-saving preventative measure taken.

Electric shocks can cause a lot of harm to a person. With possible injuries ranging from severe burns to heart problems, GFCI truly can be a life-saving preventative measure taken.

 

 

Prevents Some Instances of Fires

 

Electrical fires can be caused by a number of accidents, including when a live wire comes into contact with a metal conduit. Electrical fires are devastating and can burn down entire buildings. Implementing GFCI outlets into your design may help prevent such accidents.

 

 

Required By Code in Certain Places

 

The National Electrical Code (NEC) is continuously updating to ensure the safety of people in spaces where electricity applies as our lives continue to shift.

GFCI OUTLET REQUIREMENTS IN THE NEC

The NEC divides its requirements for GFCI outlets between commercial buildings and dwellings as follows:

NEC Requirements for GFCI Outlets in Commercial and Industrial Buildings

Aimed at preventing water from tampering with outlets, these particular outlets in these particular rooms must always be GFCI protected in commercial and industrial buildings.

The total list of spaces that must have GFCI protection on electrical outlets is crazy long and changes as new revisions are released. For example, the 2017 revision includes; bathrooms, kitchens, rooftops, outdoor outlets, outlets within 6 feet of any type of sink, all indoor wet locations, locker rooms with shower facilities, garage service bays and boat hoists.

In regards to NEC standards, check with your local authorities. Not all states and municipalities adopt the standards as soon as they are released, and some may make modifications. Check out our ChicagoSan Francisco and other blogs for further clarifications.

NEC Requirements for GFCI Outlets in Dwellings

In residential buildings, the NEC has slightly different rules surrounding GFCI outlets. And this is critical knowledge for any furniture designer, interior designer, or home remodeling contractor. Make sure you know which outlets and rooms are required to be protected for any upcoming DIY home projects you may have in mind as well!

All of the following spaces require protection with GFCI outlets for all 15A and 20A, 125V outlets:

  • Residential bathrooms
  • Garages, unfinished basements, or any shed used for storage or as a workspace
  • Outdoor outlets
  • Kitchens and wet bars
  • Outlets located within 6 feet of any sink
  • Boathouses
  • Bathtubs and shower stalls
  • Laundry areas

One last caveat: there are some very exact exceptions to some of these “requirements,” but they are very limited and when dealing with the safety inspections. It’s always best to err on the side of being too safe than the opposite.

We live in a day in age focused around Millennials. We want to know how they think, what influences their decisions, and how we can appeal to them. Many current design efforts are built to accommodate Millennial ideals, but are they the generation we should really be focused on?

THE I-GENERATION AND THE EXPLOSION OF TECHNOLOGY

I was at a Digital Marketing conference in Boston not too long ago and one of the presenters told a narrative that paints the perfect picture of how technology is affecting this youngest generation. He had been speaking to a group of teenagers and posed the question, “Would you rather have your phone taken away from you forever or have one of your fingers removed to keep your phone?” One girl raised her hand and asked, “Do we get to pick which finger?”

That sums up this generation. Their smartphones are an appendage, and an important one at that.

The i-Generation, born from 1996 to 2010, is a segment that was immersed into connective technology from the start of their lives. Baby boomers grew up during the expansion of television, Generation X had the introduction of computers, and Millennials were raised with the internet bursting onto the scene. i-Gen had all of these technologies at the touch of a finger from the get-go. Social media and constant connectivity has shaped this generation to possess an “always on” mentality.  (2019, Dimock)

They were born in an era of exploding technology – smartphones, tablets, integrated home tech, bots, and Alexa. They went to elementary school with iPads and grew up with the ability to make a HotSpot if they ever found themselves without internet. They are being raised having never known a life without instant and constant Wi-Fi.

This is the way evolution happens. Each generation makes leaps and bounds in one direction, and the next generation either gets to ride the wave or change direction. So far, this “i-Generation”, or Gen Z, has been able to ride the Millennial tech wave.

WHAT DOES GENERATION Z HAVE TO DO WITH ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN?

They can figure anything out online. They can solve problems, find groups, communicate, play games, get jobs, study, take classes, and even have full relationships online. Probably most of the things they do on their devices they don’t even realize actually require internet.

So what does this mean for you when you’re designing spaces?

The next generation doesn’t expect to be able to stay connected everywhere they go. They assume they will be able to.

Restaurants that add in power strips after they were built and hotels that hire electricians to build more outlets are missing the point. New spaces need to be designed with this assumption in mind – that anyone and everyone will be able to charge and stay connected 24/7 no matter where they are.

STAYING CHARGED, CONNECTED, AND POWERFUL THROUGH BEAUTIFUL DESIGN

With the ascension of cables being tucked away under floors and behind walls, released into the open through grommets, power and charging has become an accessory for spaces. Constantly updating colors, designs, styles, materials, configurations, and utility, these accessories not only fit into design – they enhance design.

These charging accessories lend themselves to Generation Z and every generation before. They’re solutions to problems that designers are constantly running into because they solve for today and for tomorrow. And they do so with grace and beauty.

After all, why give up a finger for a phone that you can’t keep charged?