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Is a ceiling receptacle outlet for a garage door opener required to be GFCI protected?
Thursday, October 10, 2019
It is now, but was not previously required. The issue is not that it is for a garage door opener, but that the receptacle is on the garage ceiling. And there is also a little twist in how it must be GFCI-protected. Here is a National Electrical Code (NEC) timeline:
• 1978 NEC - Garage receptacles first required to be GFCI-protected. But there was an exception for receptacles that are not readily accessible, which is defined as above 6’-8” above floor, such as a ceiling garage door opener receptacle.
• 2008 NEC - The “not readily accessible” exception removed from the code, so ceiling receptacles now required to be GFCI-protected.
• 2011 NEC - The GFCI-device (reset) must now be readily accessible, which means that while the garage ceiling receptacle must be GFCI-protected, it has to be downstream from the GFCI-device (either in another receptacle or a panel) this is readily accessible.
While the year that the NEC added or deleted a requirement is easy to define, each local juridiction’s building codes don’t necessarily adopt the latest edition of the NEC immediately. The state of Florida, for example, did not make the 2011 NEC effective until mid-2015. Other jurisdictions have sometimes waited even longer to adopt a newer NEC edition and, to complicate things further, they might make amendments that exclude parts of the newest requirements.
So the year when the NEC first required GFCI-protection for a new receptacle location can be several years before your local building department adopted that edition of the code and began enforcing it.
Also see our article Does a garage door opener need its own separate dedicated circuit?
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