GFCI Receptacles For House Exterior, Garage & Accessory Buildings

The 2008 NEC did not change house exterior GFCI receptacles requirement since the previous edition.

GFCI – (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter)

  • All outdoor house receptacles must be GFCI protected.

There is one exception from this requirement:

If you have electrical outlets that are not readily accessible (you can’t reach them standing on the ground without using ladders, or any other equipment) and they are supplied by a branch circuit dedicated for snow / ice melting equipment (there’s nothing else on this circuit), GFCI protection is not required.

However, that snow / ice melting equipment must be permanently attached; you should not use those not GFCI protected receptacles for something that would be removed after the winter (i.e. holiday decorations).

There is also an exception within the exception above which applies to mineral-insulated, metal-sheathed cable embedded in a   noncombustible  (it doesn’t burn) material that would need to be GFCI protected. I don’t think you’re going to deal with this thing in your house.

  • If you have receptacles installed in the house soffits, which are not readily accessible, powered by a dedicated branch circuit for seasonal decorations – they have to be GFCI protected.

Exceptions for the garage GFCI receptacles and GFCI’s in accessory buildings

They have been removed by the newest 2008 NEC (National Electrical Code). The new rules apply to the structures that have a floor located at or below grade level, are not intended for use as habitable rooms and limited to storage areas, work areas, and areas of similar use.

There’s no more GFCI unprotected receptacles permitted in any of those areas. If you are planning to put one in your barn or storage shed, it must be a GFCI type receptacle or an outlet protected by a GFCI breaker.

  • Receptacles that are not readily accessible (i.e. garage ceiling outlet, or one serving garage door opener) now require GFCI protection. I personally have nothing against it, but resetting that tripped garage GFCI outlet on a very high ceiling will cost you a few hundred $$$… for the ladder that is. So, it would probably make sense to install a regular outlet on the ceiling and a GFCI receptacle protecting it in a readily accessible area.

Readily Accessible (2008 NEC definition) – Capable of being reached quickly for operation, renewal, or inspections without requiring those to whom ready access is requisite to climb over or remove obstacles or to resort to portable ladders, and so forth.

  • A single or duplex receptacle on a dedicated branch circuit that was previously identified for a certain cord-and-plug connected appliance, such as a refrigerator or freezer – it now has to be GFCI protected.

The new code actually made it simpler – no more guessing. On the other hand…, is it a good idea to have a freezer / refrigerator plugged into a GFCI receptacle?