Do My Outside Lights Need To Be On A GFCI?
Any time you’re dealing with electricity, it’s important to handle it with care. That’s why recommendations are made for homeowners to avoid DIY projects that require working with electricity. That’s why requirements exist for how it’s installed.
Increasingly, we’re moving our living space outside our homes. We like our landscaping lit up to see day and night. We add outdoor living space to enjoy the coolness of a summer evening, or sit by a roaring fire on a crisp autumn day.
Yet adding electricity to your outdoor living space isn’t the same as your indoor rooms. Outlets will be exposed to all sorts of weather conditions: rain, sleet, wind, snow, and hail. And that means they must have protective covers to keep these adverse conditions away. They must also have ground fault circuit interrupter, of GFCI protection.
Outdoor GFCI outlets can be mounted just about anywhere: outdoor house walls, garages, sheds, pool areas, outdoor living space, even poles or posts in the yard. One receptacle is required in the front and back of the home, at a maximum height of 6 feet 6 inches off the ground. One receptacle is also required on each patio, deck, porch, or balcony, and be accessible from inside the home.
Outdoor GFCI outlets must also have special covers depending on where they are located. All surface mounted outlets must be listed as okay for outdoor use. Nonlocking receptacles in wet or damp areas must be weather resistant. If the box is made of metal, it must be grounded. And if it’s used in wet locations, it must have a cover rated for wet locations. This type of cover will protect from moisture even when the outlet is in use.
Outdoor lighting requirements depend on what type of lighting you’re bringing into the environment. Code requires one lighting outlet at each exterior door. If an outdoor light is in a damp location, it must be listed appropriately. Likewise, wet locations must use light fixtures approved for wet locations. Plug-in lighting must plug into an approved GFCI receptacle designed for the area.
To avoid injury, make sure you follow all guidelines when selecting lighting for your outside locations.