It looks like a push-button wall switch to some people, but is actually a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) device that provides shock protection for a remote appliance or receptacles, and is called “dead front GFCI” or sometimes “blank face GFCI.” One is shown above at left, next to a regular GFCI receptacle on the right side.
It is exactly the same device that is in the center of a duplex receptacle in the wet locations of modern homes (kitchen, bathroom, garage, exterior), but without an outlet above and below it. One button is marked “TEST” and can be pushed to verify that the device is still functional, and the other is marked “RESET” for reactivating the circuit after a test-button simulation of a ground fault or an actual ground fault.
We most often see them used for protection of a bathroom spa tub pump and they are usually located on the wall next to the main electric panel or in the bathroom that has the spa tub, as in the photo above. Because the receptacle for the pump is in a small compartment that is not easily accessed, this device provides a more convenient location to reset the GFCI if it trips.
Also, see our blog post What electrical hazards does a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) NOT protect against?
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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 AFCI AND GFCI page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.