Last Updated on October 2, 2023 by Kyle Whitley
In this article, we will look at the pros and cons of installing GFCIs in your outdoor lighting system. We will also talk about how to install GFCIs safely and effectively. Does outdoor lighting have to be GFCI?
Table of Contents
- 1 Does Outdoor Lighting Need GFCI?
- 2 Are GFCI outlets Useful, and What are they?
- 3 GFCI Outlet Requirements for Use
- 4 Should Outdoor Lighting Be On a Separate Circut When Using a GFCI?
- 5 All About Outdoor Lighting
- 6 Outdoor Lighting Requirement
- 7 Outdoor Lighting and Receptacle Codes
- 8 Required Outdoor Receptacle Locations
- 9 Outdoor Receptacle Covers and Boxes
- 10 Temporary Lighting Considerations
- 11 Summing it Up: Does Outdoor Lighting Have to be GFCI?
Does Outdoor Lighting Need GFCI?
GFCI devices protect against electric shocks and fire. They’re required by law in most states for outdoor lighting fixtures.
It’s probably best to install a GFCI anytime the outlet might be in contact with any kind of moisture. Here are some things you need to consider when installing a GFCI outlet.
Are GFCI outlets Useful, and What are they?
A GFCI protects people against electrical hazards such as electrocutions. GFCIs are used in bathrooms and kitchens because they are often located close to sinks and tubs. They are also helpful in homes with young children since they help keep kids safe.
GFCIs are designed to detect whether current is flowing through a circuit. If there is no current flow, it is assumed that the circuit works properly. However, if there is current flowing, it indicates something is wrong with the circuit. This could mean that someone touched a wire without realizing it or that a shorted wire is causing excessive current. In either case, a person could receive an electric shock.
To prevent this, GFCIs disconnect power whenever there is a problem with the circuit. This prevents anyone from being injured by electricity.
GFCI Outlet Requirements for Use
GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. These devices are used to prevent electric shocks due to faulty wiring.
The National Electrical Code requires GFCI protection in bathrooms, kitchens, garages, basements, laundry rooms, workshops, utility closets, pantries, offices, bedrooms, hallways, stairwells, attics, crawl spaces, storage areas, and outdoor living spaces. Any place water can accumulate.
In addition to being placed within easy reach, GFCIs must be installed according to manufacturer instructions. If they aren’t, the outlet could fail to function properly.
Should Outdoor Lighting Be On a Separate Circut When Using a GFCI?
The short answer is no, GFCIs do not need to be on a separate circuit.
The National Electrical Code requires that outdoor lighting fixtures be installed on separate circuits from indoor lighting fixtures. This protects the outdoor light fixture from being energized due to a fault inside the home.
As long as the total amount of current drawn from any single GFCI device is less than the maximum rating of the device, you’re good to go. So, if you have 10 lights drawing 5A each, you’d still be fine since the sum of those currents wouldn’t exceed 20A.
That being said, several reasons for having your outdoor lights on their own circuit make sense. First off, it keeps things organized. If you’ve got a bunch of lights scattered around your yard, keeping track of where they become difficult.
Having them on their own circuit helps keep everything straight. Also, it allows you to control them individually.
For example, you could turn off the Christmas lights during the summer months. Or, you might want to turn off some lights while others remain lit, depending on what mood you’re trying to convey
There are some advantages to having your outdoor lighting on separate circuits.
If your lights are connected to the same circuit, and they go off simultaneously, the outside of your house might be completely dark. This could be annoying when you arrive back after working late at the office.
All About Outdoor Lighting
The National Electrical Code requires outdoor lighting to be protected against moisture. This includes fixtures exposed to rain, snow, sleet, hail, freezing temperatures, high humidity, or condensation.
Outdoor lighting needs to be rated for wet weather conditions and connected to outlets that are GFCI (Ground Fault Circut Interrupter) – Protective. If the outdoor lighting is mounted onto the wall, a standard nonmetallic cable can be run through the wall if the area is dry and not exposed to water.
Underground cable runs for lights and receptacles that aren’t connected to the house require burial to a minimum depth of two (2) ft. The wire itself needs to be waterproof and rated for underground use. All wiring must comply with NEC or CEC standards.
Outdoor Lighting Requirement
Most homes have more outdoor lighting than is required by NEC codes. There are often times when it makes sense to install less lighting than is required by law. For example, many homeowners don’t require additional lighting near walkways, steps, patios, fireplaces, etc., because they already have adequate lighting in those areas.
Transformers are required to be accessible. They cannot be covered up. If you want to cover them up, you must list them for damp locations.
Light fixtures in damp locations must also be listed because moisture can damage electrical equipment.
Outdoor Lighting and Receptacle Codes
When it comes to outdoor lighting, there are many things to consider. From where do you want the light source to come from? What type of fixture do you want? How much power do you need? And what about the electrical codes?
The National Electrical Code requires that all outdoor lights be installed according to certain standards. If you plan on having exterior lighting, you should ensure that you install the proper fixtures and outlets. This way, you won’t risk damaging your home or causing harm to yourself and others around you.
The National Electric Code states that all outdoor receptacles must be protected with a GFCI outlet. These devices protect people from electrocution by detecting dangerous conditions like arcing and short circuits. They also help prevent fires caused by faulty wiring.
For outdoor lighting, you should always check the local codes before installing anything outside. In some areas, such as New York City, you may need permission from a building inspector to install an outdoor light fixture.
Required Outdoor Receptacle Locations
All 15amp and 20 amp outdoor receptacles are required to provide GFCI protection. This includes receptacles installed outdoors in areas where there is no indoor wiring. These locations include:
• At each main entryway into the building
• On decks
• Any area that is accessed by people who live in the house
If you install a receptacle outside, it must be protected by a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI).Receptacles
Outdoor Receptacle Covers and Boxes
The National Electrical Code requires that metal boxes used for electrical outlets be grounded. If you are installing an outlet outdoors, it must be listed on the permit application.
Outdoor receptacles must be protected from rain, snow, ice, wind, sun, heat, cold, insects, animals, birds, squirrels, etc. To protect against moisture, covers and boxes must be installed over receptacles.
Temporary Lighting Considerations
Most temporary lighting applications are designed to provide illumination during construction projects or the holidays. This type of lighting must meet all electrical safety standards and use outdoor-rated light bulbs and extension cords. Since the lighting is temporary, most people do not consider the safety considerations.
Outdoor-rated lights are designed to withstand extreme weather conditions such as rain, snow, wind, heat, cold, etc., and are tested to ensure they can survive without damage. If you plan to install temporary lighting indoors, ensure it meets local building codes and follows the same guidelines as permanent fixtures.
Summing it Up: Does Outdoor Lighting Have to be GFCI?
In conclusion, outdoor lighting has become increasingly common over the past several years. However, many homeowners aren’t aware of the potential dangers associated with using these fixtures outdoors.
There are several situations where a standard outlet does not provide adequate protection against electrical shock hazards. GFCI should be used with outdoor lighting.