GFCI without dedicated outlet

I'm considering starting a project using mains power and want to take steps to make sure the project is safe for me and anyone else who may come in contact with it. I know that plugging a device into a GFCI outlet provides some protection, but I don't have any in my house. I did a Google search for GFCI breakers and found units for home breaker/fuse boxes that I suppose could be adapted to work inside my project, but buying one of those wold more than double the cost of my project. Are there good solutions for building protective functionality similar to GFCI into my project itself?

Some power strips made for construction sites have them built in. Perhaps one taken from a hair dryer?

Some thing to note is that not all GFCI are for human protection. Some have higher trigger currents and are built for protecting industrial equipment (not the operator)

You can replace your existing outlets with GFCI outlets. That's the most straightforward approach.

Assuming you can't modify the existing house/apartment's wiring you can buy extension cords that contain GFCI circuitry.

I’m not sure how much research you have done about how a GFCI works. GFCI will only protect against a Ground Fault, it will not protect against a short from hot to neutral. In very simple terms, the outlet monitors what goes out on the hot and what comes back through the neutral. If there is an imbalance, then the current has gone to ground through a different path (possibly you), and the GFCI opens. As long out what goes out == what comes back, it will not open even if it is way too much current. GFCI can cause nuisance tripping on some loads such as motors and resistance heaters due to acceptable leakage current. That being said, if GFCI is something you feel you need, I would look into something a GFCI pigtail, such as the cord from a broken hair dryer.

Chagrin, those extension cords look like a good idea. Thanks!

a_m_922: Thanks for the info! I have done some research, but I'm still relatively new to this and more information is definitely helpful. I am mostly interested in using GFCI to prevent shorts to ground via a human and I plan to use fuses to prevent amperage from getting too high. Thanks for pointing out the acceptable leakage current issue on heaters. I would be controlling a heating element so that is something I'll need to look into more before going further. Do you suggest the part from a hair drier since it also uses resistance heating and would be more tolerant of leakage?

Attack_Parakeet: Chagrin, those extension cords look like a good idea. Thanks!

a_m_922: Thanks for the info! I have done some research, but I'm still relatively new to this and more information is definitely helpful. I am mostly interested in using GFCI to prevent shorts to ground via a human and I plan to use fuses to prevent amperage from getting too high. Thanks for pointing out the acceptable leakage current issue on heaters. I would be controlling a heating element so that is something I'll need to look into more before going further. Do you suggest the part from a hair drier since it also uses resistance heating and would be more tolerant of leakage?

Honestly, if it was me, I would use a cord from a hair dryer and just move on (assuming no more than 12-15A). There are no real spec's to check to see if a heater will work or not. Odds are it will work. But if you find the GFI tripping, then I would look into the heater before completely tearing your project apart. I didn't mean to give the impression you need to do more research, more of a heads-up on a potential pain in the butt.

Can’t you just insulate (and isolate) the high-voltage so nobody touches it?

How does the AC connect to your circuit? Maybe you can stick a GFCI in your project box? Or, build your project into an electrical box? A 4-outlet electrical box (that normally goes inside the wall) is fairly cheap. And, it’s very easy to wire-up and mount the outlet and a cover-plate. If you need more room, they make 6 & 8 outlet boxes too (here in the U.S., anyway).

…I was going to put some optoisolators & triacs in an electrical box once, but the project never got past the planning stage. I may do something like that next time I need to control AC. The low-voltage stuff will go into some kind of “project box”, but the high voltage & AC control circuit will go into an electrical box.

Oh… I did stick a regular “light switch”, a diode, and a duplex outlet in an electrical box once. It was a “half-power” box.