Radiant Heat & Ground Fault Protection

by Steven Bench

The National Electric Code (“NEC”) requires that Line Voltage Electric Radiant Panels and Cables utilize ground fault sensing devices for either personnel or equipment protection depending upon the application.  Getting the correct ground fault protection device is important because the cost ranges from one to several hundred dollars depending upon the type and sensitivity required.

Interior space heating or floor warming applications of Line Voltage Radiant Electric Radiant products are required to utilize a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (“GFCI”) with a trip point somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 milliamps.  Based on my read of the NEC the requirement may be satisfied by a GFCI Distribution Panel Breaker; a line voltage switching Thermostat with a built in GFCI, or an inline GFCI switching device.

Exterior snow and ice melting applications of Line Voltage Radiant Electric Panels and Cables require a Ground Fault Equipment Protector (“GFEP”) which generally has a trip point of 30 milliamps.  GFEPs come as either Distribution Panel Breakers or an inline GFEP switching device.

The best and easiest way to determine whether you need a GFCI or GFEP and the best type for your needs is to consult with your Electric Radiant Panel and Cable Distributor or Electrical Contractor.