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Old 11-28-2009, 12:02 AM   #1
StarsFan4Life
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Default GFCI Outlets: Required for outdoor use?

On my new home I have an eletrical box on each corner of the home that is prewired, but does not have outlets on them. They are currently turned off on the breaker box and I double checked them with a line tester.

I want to turn these in to weather proof outlets, so I went to Home Depot and purchased the following:

* Leviton 15amp Tamper Resistant Outlets (10 pack) for $9.99 (http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1...atalogId=10053)

* Taymac Weatherproof Receptacle Cover (4x) for $6 each (http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1...atalogId=10053)

Should I have instead got a full blown 15amp GFCI outlet(http://www.homedepot.com/Electrical-...alogId=10053)? I saw these were roughly about $10-14 each and just couldn't justify the cost. I am planning to install these in the morning so I can start on my Christmas lights, which will then be plugged in to these outlets.

Last edited by StarsFan4Life; 11-28-2009 at 12:15 AM.
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Old 11-28-2009, 12:08 AM   #2
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You only need one GFCI plug in line and all others behind are good to go. So make your first plug GFCI and all those on the same line are good.

Go with the GFCI plugs.
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Old 11-28-2009, 12:09 AM   #3
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Use GFCI outlets. Check the wiring first, if the outlets are in series you can run the down stream outlets off the first one, so the first would be a gfic and the rest standard outlets.
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Old 11-28-2009, 12:17 AM   #4
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Use GFCI outlets. Check the wiring first, if the outlets are in series you can run the down stream outlets off the first one, so the first would be a gfic and the rest standard outlets.
How in the world can I check the wiring. This is a brand new home, but they didn't leave me with a full diagram of the electrical wiring for this home. I am not sure which corner goes with which breaker fuse, and which one on each of these are the "first in line". Should I just go ahead and go with GFCI plugs on all 4? Are the regular 15amp outlets in my OP not recommended in this case? I did buy the 10 pack, but can take it back.
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Old 11-28-2009, 12:18 AM   #5
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check your local codes and contact a master electrician if you have any questions about the local code or how to install.
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Old 11-28-2009, 01:26 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by StarsFan4Life View Post
How in the world can I check the wiring. This is a brand new home, but they didn't leave me with a full diagram of the electrical wiring for this home. I am not sure which corner goes with which breaker fuse, and which one on each of these are the "first in line". Should I just go ahead and go with GFCI plugs on all 4? Are the regular 15amp outlets in my OP not recommended in this case? I did buy the 10 pack, but can take it back.
What you could do is use a GFCI breaker. You'll only need 1 (probably about $50) but it will protect everything on that circuit. You won't need to know the details of the wiring, but you still need to know which circuit they are connected to.

Are you trying to follow code rules or do you just want it to work? I'm in a house built in the 70s back when nobody had GFCI and there has never once been a problem with ground faulting in any of the outdoor receptacles.
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Old 11-28-2009, 08:00 AM   #7
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What you could do is use a GFCI breaker. You'll only need 1 (probably about $50) but it will protect everything on that circuit. You won't need to know the details of the wiring, but you still need to know which circuit they are connected to.

Are you trying to follow code rules or do you just want it to work? I'm in a house built in the 70s back when nobody had GFCI and there has never once been a problem with ground faulting in any of the outdoor receptacles.
I installed 4 outdoor plugs with GFCI in lead. I have my Christmas lights plugged into them and when it rains too much, it pops off. Job done.

GFCI plugs do not cost $50 and to be to code they must use GFCI or GFCI protected outdoors.

To find out if they are in line, turn the power on check voltage with a voltage checker or hell use a small lamp or radio. Flip the breaker and check to see of you have power. Do this with all outdoor plugs and if they all shut off with the same breaker then they are all in series. If not then see which ones are. If you have 4 plugs and are on two different breakers then use 2 GFCI plugs again putting the GFCI in lead. Remember that you need to use the same amp plug as the breaker. 20 amp breaker calls for a 20 amp plug, 15 amp breaker and 15 amp plug.
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Last edited by tyler811; 11-28-2009 at 09:40 AM.
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Old 11-28-2009, 08:27 AM   #8
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The first item you linked to is only for kids so they don't put stuff in the outlets.
For outdoors use, a good 15Amp duplex receptacle should be used. The weatherproof covers are fine. That is what you need. Be sure water can not get behind the cover and into the wall box. You can use 1 GFCI outlet to protect them all on that circuit, but you need to know which out has the Power Feed coming from the circuit breaker panel. The GFCI outlet would need to go here, as it has an output connection to feed the other downstream outlets. If you do not know what to do, it may be easier to out the GFCI circuit breaker in the panel board. Either way, for safety, I suggest you call in a electrician to do the job to NEC & local code specs.

Just an aside: Outlets are not wired in Series. They are a parallel circuit as far as electricity is concerned, but the wiring typically goes like this:

Box 1: Power feed and outlet ... then a romex / bx out of that box feeds the next outlet down the line .. and so forth.

See link for more information:

http://www.wireityourself.com/gfci_e...al_outlet.html
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Old 11-28-2009, 08:36 AM   #9
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It doesnt matter what you think is cheaper and better

what matters is the IP rating

http://www.ji.com.au/ipratings/

THe electrical product must be rated for out doors. Instead of playing electrican why not get a REAL electrician and get it done PROPERLY?

Or not, and post up pics when darwin strikes
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Old 11-28-2009, 09:07 AM   #10
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code here requires GFCI in a protected cover
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Old 11-28-2009, 09:10 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by tyler811 View Post
I installed 4 outdoor plugs with GFCI in lead. I have my Christmas lights plugged into them and when it rains too much, it pops off. Job done.

GFCI plugs do not cost $50 and to be to code they must use GFCI or GFCI protected outdoors.

To find out if they are in line or also called in series, turn the power on check voltage with a voltage checker or hell use a small lamp or radio. Flip the breaker and check to see of you have power. Do this with all outdoor plugs and if they all shut off with the same breaker then they are all in series. If not then see which ones are. If you have 4 plugs and are on two different breakers then use 2 GFCI plugs again putting the GFCI in lead. Remember that you need to use the same amp plug as the breaker. 20 amp breaker calls for a 20 amp plug, 15 amp breaker and 15 amp plug.
not a good sign that your breaker trips when it rains. you should correct that. Also, GFCIs are only rated for so many trips, eventually everything wears out.
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Old 11-28-2009, 09:34 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StarsFan4Life View Post
How in the world can I check the wiring. This is a brand new home, but they didn't leave me with a full diagram of the electrical wiring for this home. I am not sure which corner goes with which breaker fuse, and which one on each of these are the "first in line". Should I just go ahead and go with GFCI plugs on all 4? Are the regular 15amp outlets in my OP not recommended in this case? I did buy the 10 pack, but can take it back.
take back the 10pack.

3 options:
1) gfci the outlet closest to the breaker, then 3 regular outlets ($0.40/each) down the line. the gfci will protect all 4
2) gfci on all 4 outlets
3) gfci breaker, and 4 regular outlets. (Shut off main power before removing/adding breakers.)

to figure out which outlet is closest to the breaker, get a volt stick:
http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?actio...0-L&lpage=none

Walmart has one for like $4. and u can return it after u use it, since u can return anything at walmart.

touch the insulated portion of the hot wire w/it. (Leave the electrical tape/wire nut on.)
if it's just wires, then the one that beeps is the box closest to the breaker. (the other 3 should be dead.)
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Last edited by JEDI; 11-28-2009 at 09:46 AM.
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Old 11-28-2009, 09:36 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by MikeyIs4Dcats View Post
not a good sign that your breaker trips when it rains. you should correct that. Also, GFCIs are only rated for so many trips, eventually everything wears out.
Actually that is what its for and it does not happen ever time it rains. If the plug gets wet then it shuts off hence why it is code for garage bath kitchen. I installed them six years ago and they have tripped twice in six years.


Do not know how you got "when it rains" from "rains to much" As you describe every time it rains they pop which is not the case.
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Old 11-28-2009, 09:40 AM   #14
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Actually that is what its for and it does not happen ever time it rains. If the plug gets wet then it shuts off hence why it is code for garage bath kitchen. I installed them six years ago and they have tripped twice in six years.


Do not know how you got "when it rains" from "rains to much" As you describe every time it rains they pop which is not the case.
A properly installed and protected GFCI should never pop from rain.
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Old 11-28-2009, 09:49 AM   #15
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"They are currently turned off on the breaker box and I double checked them with a line tester."

How many breakers are turned off for those outlet boxes? Also, there's no guarantee that they're wired such that putting a GFCI on any one of the corners would protect the other corners - they could each be the end of a branch coming out of a junction box. If that's the case, then a GFCI breaker is your best bet. And, if that's the case, I would have expected the breaker for those circuits to actually be a GFCI breaker, except that they cut every possible corner these days when building new homes. Most are built to minimum code requirements (or not much better.)
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Old 11-28-2009, 10:00 AM   #16
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My house (built in 97) has 2 GFCI outlets that cover the bathrooms and kitchen outlets, PLUS the exterior outlets have a GFCI breaker in the breaker box.

Odds are, those exterior outlet boxes are either wired to one of the GCFI outlets in your house or to a GFCI breaker. (I think the GFCI breaker is the NEC standard)

Easiest way to test is to "trip" each outlet with the "test" button then check for power at the outlets.
You should NOT need to install GFCI outlets in the exterior boxes, they SHOULD already be wired to a GFCI circuit.

With electricity, don't doubt...be sure. Call a qualified electrician.
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Old 11-28-2009, 10:06 AM   #17
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Each state, county, and even some cities have their own code. Consult with someone that knows in your area. Even if your house is old and you think it can be 'grandfathered' in, buyers can get very scared over electrical code when it comes time to sell the house.
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Old 11-28-2009, 10:06 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by DrPizza View Post
"They are currently turned off on the breaker box and I double checked them with a line tester."

How many breakers are turned off for those outlet boxes? Also, there's no guarantee that they're wired such that putting a GFCI on any one of the corners would protect the other corners - they could each be the end of a branch coming out of a junction box. If that's the case, then a GFCI breaker is your best bet. And, if that's the case, I would have expected the breaker for those circuits to actually be a GFCI breaker, except that they cut every possible corner these days when building new homes. Most are built to minimum code requirements (or not much better.)
I just emailed the builder to see if these are. I think he mentioned that they are. Any way for me to tell just by looking at them?
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Old 11-28-2009, 10:14 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by StarsFan4Life View Post
I just emailed the builder to see if these are. I think he mentioned that they are. Any way for me to tell just by looking at them?
MAYBE...
http://images.google.com/imgres?imgu...A5KSnAe2lqHrAw
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Old 11-28-2009, 10:21 AM   #20
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Each state, county, and even some cities have their own code. Consult with someone that knows in your area. Even if your house is old and you think it can be 'grandfathered' in, buyers can get very scared over electrical code when it comes time to sell the house.
In every jurisdiction I have ever heard of, any electrical changes must be made to current code standards.

And, as someone pointed out before - if your GFCI ever pops off, something is WRONG. Period. You have current going to ground. That should NEVER happen.
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Old 11-28-2009, 10:35 AM   #21
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In every jurisdiction I have ever heard of, any electrical changes must be made to current code standards.

And, as someone pointed out before - if your GFCI ever pops off, something is WRONG. Period. You have current going to ground. That should NEVER happen.
The National Electrical Code sets the minimum standards. Each state or jurisdiction may set more stringent standards, but not weaker ones.

While I agree that under ideal circumstances a GFCI shouldn't ever trip, it SHOULD happen when it needs to trip.
Having one trip in the rain isn't an uncommon situation. During the x-mas season, I usually have a couple of extension cords laying in the yard. When it rains, occasionally water will get into a plug and trip the GFCI. THAT is a normal operation and fully expected. (I generally try to cover the outlets with plastic so they don't get wet and trip the GFCI, but.....

Last edited by BoomerD; 11-28-2009 at 11:32 AM. Reason: fixored numerous typos
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Old 11-28-2009, 10:56 AM   #22
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The National Electrical Code sets the minimum standards. Each state or jurisdiction may set more stringent standards, but not weaker ones.

While I agree that under ideal circumstances a GCFI shouldn't ever trip, it SHOULD happen when it needs to trip.
Having one trip in the rain isn't an uncommon situation. During the x-mas season, I usually have a couple of extension cords laying in the yard. When it rains, occasionally water will get into a plug and trip the GCFI. THAT is a normal operation and fully expected. (I generally try to cover the outlets with plastic so they don't get wet and trip the GCFI, but.....


Again, if you are having a ground fault, that is bad. It should be corrected. GFCI is meant as a last line of defense, not a first line defense. I would urge anyone who has a GFCI that is tripping to correct the problem, and not to rely on the GFCI. It only takes one failure to end your life, or burn your house down.

As far as it tripping at a ground fault, yes, that is what it's supposed to do. And you are correct about code - I hope my statement did not seem to contradict you. I can't imagine a jurisdiction that would allow electrical changes that aren't at current code standards. (National and local)
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Old 11-28-2009, 11:10 AM   #23
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So you guys are saying that I "have to" use GFCI outlets in order to keep to code (required by code)?
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Old 11-28-2009, 11:22 AM   #24
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So you guys are saying that I "have to" use GFCI outlets in order to keep to code (required by code)?


According to the 2008 NEC, all outdoor outlets must be GFCI protected. There are several ways to do it, but it must be done. Besides, it's just a REALLY good idea, and won't add much to your costs.
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Old 11-28-2009, 11:25 AM   #25
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According to the 2008 NEC, all outdoor outlets must be GFCI protected. There are several ways to do it, but it must be done. Besides, it's just a REALLY good idea, and won't add much to your costs.
$1.25 per regular outlet vs $14 per GFCI outlet...I'd say that is a huge difference.
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