Outdoor Lighting and Receptacle Codes

With any electrical installation, there are some electrical codes that must be followed and outdoor electrical installations are no different. Because the outdoor lighting is often exposed to all sorts of weather conditions, they are designed to seal out water, snow, and other stormy weather conditions. Lighting that we are discussing here can vary from a simple outdoor wall light to a wall pack light to a pole light. All of these have special protective covers to keep your light working in all...MORE these adverse conditions.

Receptacles that are used outdoors must be of the GFCI variety for safety. These receptacles automatically trip if there is a potential problem that could cause bodily harm to you. GFCI receptacles trip if there is trouble on the line and can be reset after the trouble is found and removed from the circuit.  They are used in wet locations including bathrooms, basements, kitchens, garages and of course outdoors.

The National Electrical Code lists many specific electrical codes that must be observed and followed to be sure that everyone around your home remains safe and secure around the home's electric.Wet lawns, yards, concrete and other wet surfaces are especially trouble spots outside the home. Here are a few outdoor lighting and receptacle codes that you will need to know before wiring your home or making room additions. Remember, the codes were made to keep you safe! Please read the following code requirements and let electrical safety be in your game plan.

  • 01 of 08

    Article 210.8(A)(3)

    Illuminated swimming pool and trees in backyard at dusk
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    All 15- and 20-amp, 120-volt receptacles must be GFCI protected. This may be with a GFCI receptacle or a GFCI breaker that is used to protect the circuit.

  • 02 of 08

    Article 210.52(E)

    A receptacle is required at the front and back door outside every home. This receptacle can be mounted no higher than 6'6" above grade.

  • 03 of 08

    Article 210.52(E)(3)

    A receptacle is required within the perimeter of each balcony, deck, or porch with a usable area of 20 square feet or more that is accessible from the inside of the home. This, again, can be mounted no higher than 6'6" above grade.

  • 04 of 08

    Article 210.52(E)(3) (2011 NEC)

    All balconies, decks, and porches that are accessible from the inside of the home must have a receptacle installed within their perimeter. * Exception: Small areas.
    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Article 210.70(A)(2)

    Switched lghting is required on the exterior in order to illuminate all personnel entrances. * Exception: Vehical doors (garage doors)

  • 06 of 08

    Article 406.8(A)

    All 15- and 20-amp 120- and 240-volt nonlocking receptacles in wet or damp locations must be listed as weather resistant type receptacles.
  • 07 of 08

    Article 406(8)(A)

    Receptacles installed outdoors must have a weatherproof cover that are acceptable for damp location. These are gasketed covers that seal the unit from moisture and retard rain and snow.

  • 08 of 08

    Article 406.(8)(B)(1)

    Outdoor receptacles located in wet locations that are unprotected from rainfall, must have a cover that is weatherproof to protect the receptacle when a cord is plugged into it and when not in use.

Speaking of lighting circuits and safety, Don't forget about the switches that control the lighting. Lights that flicker and switches that seem hot to the touch in all likelihood are problems to deal with now. Sizzling and/or popping sounds in and around switches mean that the switches are getting bad. Either loose electrical connections or bad contacts are usually the result of these sounds. Be sure you are using grounded switches and that the copper wire connections are attached properly and secure. Hot switches indicate the circuit may have more load that the switch can handle. Remember, if the lighting is on a 20-amp circuit, please use a 20-amp switch, not a 15-amp switch to accommodate the load. Ground fault circuit interrupters, called GFCI's, are used in bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, basements, garages, and outdoors to protect the person using them. If there is a difference of potential in the circuit, the GFCI will trip and open the circuit so you won'r get electrocuted. They come equipped with a test and also a reset button. Monthly checks should be made to test the GFCI's for functionality. I know it is easy to install them and forget them, hoping they will always work flawlessly, but in reality, every mechanical device will fail at some point, thus the importance of testing them from time to time.