GFCI Requirements & Legislation



Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter Standards


Where GFCIs Are Required


GFCI protection is required for 125-volt to 250-volt receptacles supplied by single-phase branch circuits rated 150 volts or less to the ground. GFCI receptacles are required in bathrooms, garages, crawl spaces, basements, laundry rooms and areas where a water source is present.

Code for Dwellings


The National Electrical Code® requires GFCI protection for 125-volt to 250-volt receptacles supplied by single-phase branch circuits rated 150 volts or less to the ground in:

Bathrooms

  • All Areas

  

Garages & Accessories

  • Includes areas used for storage or work

  

Outdoors

  • Receptacles installed under the eaves of roofs
  • Multifamily dwellings with individual entrances at grade level must have at least one GFCI-protected receptacle
  • Outlets installed 150 volts to ground or less and up to 50 amps
Crawl Spaces

  • Spaces at or below grade level
  • Areas where heating, AC and refrigeration equipment is installed
  • Includes 120-volt lighting outlets

 

Basements

  • Unfinished areas not intended for habitable rooms 
  • Receptacles for permanent smoke detectors or burglar alarms do not require GFCI protection

 

Kitchen Countertop Surfaces

  • Receptacles serving countertop surfaces
  • Required for dishwasher outlets

 

Sinks

  • Receptacles within 6 ft. of the top inside edge of the bowl of a sink

 

Boathouses

  • All areas
  • Includes boat hoist outlets not exceeding 240 volts

 

Bathtubs or Shower Stalls

  • Receptacles within 6 ft. of the outside edge of a bathtub or shower stall
Laundry Areas

  • All areas

Federal Code for Non-Dwellings & Other Structures


GFCI protection is required for all 125-250-volt receptacles rated 50 amps or less, not exceeding 150 volts to ground, supplied by a single-phase branch circuit in:

Bathrooms

  • All areas

 

Kitchens
  • All areas

 

Rooftops

  • All areas
  • Receptacles must be installed within 25 ft. of heating, AC and refrigeration equipment
  • Receptacles must be readily accessible from the rooftop’s surface area

 

Outdoors

  • All areas

 

Sinks

  • All receptacles within 6 ft. of the top inside edge of the bowl of a sink
  • Not required for industrial laboratory sinks where the removal of power would introduce a greater hazard

 

Indoor Wet Locations

  • All areas

 

Locker Rooms

  • All areas with showers

 

Garages

  • Includes service bays and similar areas
  • Does not include show rooms and exhibition halls

 

Crawl Spaces

  • All areas

 

Unfinished Portions of Basements

  • All areas

 

Shop GFCI

NEC GFCI Requirements


The National Electric Code® has expanded GFCI requirements in every code change since 1971, including the latest for 2020. These guidelines are adopted as legislation by state. Check with your state or municipality to know which NEC is used in your state.

  • Revisions are made every three years
  • The latest standards were released in 2020
  • The next codes and standards release is 2023
  • Anyone can submit a change via public input 


GFCI Code Changes from 2020

Revisions to dwellings:

  • Require GFCI protection in both finished and unfinished basements.
  • Expand outdoor protection from receptacle outlets to all outlets.
Revisions to non-dwellings:

  • Require GFCI protection for HVAC equipment, indoor service equipment and indoor service equipment requiring a dedicated space.


GFCI CODE CHANGES FROM 2017

Revisions to dwellings:

  • Define distance between a water source and receptacles that require GFCI protection as “the shortest path the cord of an appliance connected to the receptacle would follow without piercing a floor, wall, ceiling, or fixed barrier, or passing through a door, doorway, or window.”
Revisions to non-dwellings:

  • Require GFCI protection on single-phase receptacles 50 amps or less, rated 150 volts to ground or less, and three-phase receptacles 100 amps or less, rated 150 volts to ground or less.
  • Expand GFCI requirements to crawl spaces at or below grade level and unfinished areas of basements.

Why GFCI

Ground-fault circuit interrupters, GFCIs or GFIs, are safety devices built into outlets that protect against electrical shock. Their circuitry monitors electrical input. When a ground fault occurs, the GFCI quickly—in a fraction of a second—shuts off the power.

Ground Fault Causes
  • Operating equipment in wet or damp areas 
  • Running faulty or leaking tools and appliances                                                            
  • Using damaged cords or wiring                       


Feed-Through Protection


GFCI outlets protect all outlets on the same circuit, as well as connected tools and appliances.


Self-Testing


The latest UL Standards require GFCIs to be self-testing. This requirement began in 2015.

GFCI vs. GFI


There is no difference between GFCI and GFI protection. Ground-fault circuit interrupters are commonly referred to as ground-fault interrupters.

GFCI Vs. AFCI


Arc-fault circuit interrupters protect against fires caused by arcing faults that come from faulty or damaged wiring. GFCIs protect against electrical shocks from ground faults.

GFCI vs. CIRCUIT BREAKERS


GFCIs are different than circuit breakers in that they are more sensitive. On their own, circuit breakers only protect against overloads and resulting fires. GFCIs, however, protect against electrical currents that are too low to trip breakers but are more than enough to cause injury. Having both GFCI and circuit breakers helps safeguard against electrical shock and fires.