repair,Meyer Electrical Services
Written by Walt Meyer

Electrical Codes for Outdoor Receptacles and Lighting – Part 1

During the warmer months of the year, we spend more time enjoying the outdoor areas of our homes. Homeowners heighten these experiences by adding lighting, entertainment centers, or kitchens outside their houses. The following will discuss typical NEC (National Electrical Code) requirements for outdoor locations.

Outdoor Receptacles

An outdoor receptacle, also known as a power outlet, must be equipped with a GFCI (ground-fault circuit-interrupter) to prevent electrical shock and electrocution that may cause injury or death.

GFCI receptacles are typically utilized in areas where water may be present. A GFCI will trip automatically if it senses an imbalance in the circuit indicating a fault to ground, which may happen when an electrical device or its user is touching water.

Every 15-amp or 20-amp 120-volt receptacle requires GFCI protection, which can be provided by either a GFCI breaker or receptacle. At least one receptacle is required to be located at both the front and rear area of a house.

For porch, deck, patio, or balcony spaces, at least one outdoor receptacle should be installed that can be accessed from within the home. It can be located up to a maximum of six and a half feet over the walking area.

Every 15-amp and 20-amp 120-volt non-locking receptacle located in a damp or wet location must be listed as weather-resistant.

Covers and Boxes

Outdoor receptacles require electrical boxes and special covers. A box that is in a wet location (unprotected from rainfall) must be approved for use for this location. All indoor and outdoor metal boxes require grounding. 

If installed in a damp location (protected from rainfall), an outdoor receptacle must be equipped with a weatherproof cover approved for both damp and wet locations.

If installed in a wet location (unprotected from rainfall), the outdoor receptacle must be equipped with an “in-use” cover rated for wet locations. A cover like this provides protection from moisture even when a cord is plugged into the outdoor receptacle.

Part 2 will discuss Outdoor Lighting Requirements and Outdoor Power.

Electrical Services You Can Trust

Founded in 1991, Meyer Electrical Services provides home and commercial electrical services in Maryland, Virginia, and D.C., where we are licensed and insured. Based in Bethesda, our team proudly serves all of Montgomery County. Receive a free consultation for custom electrical work today by calling (301) 941-1400.