Because a receptacle is often necessary for servicing HVAC equipment, the National Electrical Code (NEC 210.63) specifies that a 125-volt, single-phase, 15- or 20-amp receptacle outlet must be installed in an accessible location within 25 feet of the equipment and on the same level. The code also requires that it should not be connected to the load side of the disconnecting means for the equipment. One exception is allowed: a service receptacle is not necessary for an evaporative cooler at a one- or two-family dwelling.
The receptacle shown at the top of the page is at a heat pump condenser, and is an example of one that is integral with the disconnect box. A receptacle should also be GFCI-protected if it is at a location where it is required by code—such as outdoors, a garage, crawl space, or unfinished basement.
We came across the weather cover with no receptacle behind it (shown below) mounted on the wall behind an a/c condenser in the The Villages last year, and suspect it was installed to fool a local building inspector on an HVAC changeout permit. The ruse must have worked, because there was no other receptacle anywhere near the unit.
Also see What is the best location for a heat pump condenser (outside unit)?
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Here’s links to a collection of our other blog posts about AFCI and GFCI RECEPTACLES AND CIRCUIT BREAKERS:
• Does a septic pump or sump pump require a GFCI-receptacle?
• What is the difference between what trips a GFCI (ground fault) receptacle and a circuit breaker?
• Are Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) really necessary and worth the trouble?
• What is the code requirement for GFCI protection for receptacles near a wet bar sink?
• When was GFCI-protection for kitchen dishwasher receptacle outlet first required?
• When did arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) breakers first become required?
• Does a washing machine receptacle outlet require GFCI protection?
• My spa tub stopped working. What's wrong?
• How do I identify a combination AFCI (CAFCI) circuit breaker?
• What does "listed and labeled" mean for an electrical component?
• What electrical hazards does a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) NOT protect against?
• What is the difference between GFCI and AFCI circuit breakers?
• Where are GFCI receptacle outlets required?
• When were GFCI receptacle outlets first required?
• What happens when you press the "TEST" button on a circuit breaker in an electric panel?
• What is the difference between the electric service to a mobile home and a site built home?
• Why is there a wall switch next to the furnace or indoor unit of the air conditioner in the garage?
• What is a Dual Function Circuit Interrupter (DFCI)?
• How I can tell if a receptacle outlet is tamper resistant?
• What is the difference between a Combination Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (CAFCI) and an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) circuit breaker?
• What is the difference between "grounded" and "grounding" electrical conductors?
• What does it mean when a wire is "overstripped" at a circuit breaker?
• Why is there a GFCI breaker in the electric panel for the bathroom shower light and exhaust fan?
• What is the switch on the wall with two pushbuttons?
• How far apart should kitchen counter receptacles be spaced?
• How far above a kitchen countertop do electrical outlets have to be?
• How is it possible to provide both GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) and CAFCI (Combination Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter) protection for kitchen and laundry circuits?
• My bathroom electric receptacle/outlet is dead and there are no tripped breakers in the electric panel. What's wrong?
• My GFCI reset button is hard to push and won't reset. What's wrong?
• Why do some breakers in my electric panel have a "TEST" button on them?
Visit our ELECTRICAL and HEATING AND AIR CONDITIONING pages for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.