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When were GFCI receptacle outlets first required in the garage?
Thursday, May 23, 2019
Receptacles in the garage were first required to be GFCI-protected by the 1978 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC). Initially, an exception was made for receptacle outlets that are not readily accessible (6 feet 8 inches or above) and receptacle outlets for dedicated appliances that are not easily movable, such as a freezer, rerfrigerator, or mounted sprinkler control panel. Then the 2008 NEC eliminated those exceptions, and now all garage receptacles are required to be GFCI-protected.
The mandate for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter Protection for receptacles in wet areas around the home began in the 1971 edition of the NEC, and at first only for exterior receptacles and ones near a swimming pool. As the NEC has updated with a new edition every three years, the locations required have been expanded or tweaked with almost every cycle since then. For a complete listing of each currently required location for GFCI-protection and when it was instituted, see our blog post When were GFCI receptacle outlets first required?
But, while the year that the NEC added a new location 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, there were initially some exceptions allowed in 1978 which were later eliminated. To read about it, see our blog post Are all garage electric receptacles required to be GFCI-protected? And, for the requirement for garage receptacle number/spacing, go to How far apart should electric receptacle outlets be placed in a garage?
One last note: GFCI-protection can be provided by a GFCI receptacle (one receptacle will protect others downstream in the circuit, which should be marked as GFCI protected), a GFCI circuit breaker in the electric panel, or a GFCI dead front (often used for indoor spa tubs, essentially a GFCI receptacle without the slots to plug in a cord, usually located in bathroom or next to electric panel).
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