Electrical Code for Garage GFI Outlets and Receptacles

By Dave Rongey - Summary:

How to Plan and Installing Electrical Wiring for Garage Outlets and Lighting Circuits: Electrical Codes about GFCI protection for 15A and 20A, 125V receptacles in garages.

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GFI Protection for Garage Outlets and Lighting

Electrical Question: How many receptacles and lights are legally allowed on a electrical circuit in a residential garage, and does there have to be a GFI or ground fault receptacle?

Background: Timothy, a Handyman from Chiefland ,Florida.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical question Timothy.

Garage Electrical Wiring for Outlets and Lighting

Application: Electrical Circuit Wiring in a Residential Garage.
Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate – Best if wired by a Licensed Electrical Contractor.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools and a Voltage Tester.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience, ability to work with tools and the number of GFI outlets that will be installed.
Precaution: Identify the circuit at the electric panel, turn them OFF and Tag it with a Note before working with the outlet wiring.
Materials: Materials used for electrical circuit wiring should be of the same amperage and voltage rating as the existing electrical circuit.
Notice: Installing additional Electrical Wiring should be done according to local and national electrical Codes with a permit and be inspected.

Installing Electrical Wiring for Garage Outlets and Lighting Circuits

  • There is no limit to the number of receptacle outlets or lights, however you must calculate your proposed circuit loads for the connected devices, such as lights etc. to see if the size of the circuit will be large enough.
  • GFCI protected outlets are required in the garage.
  • The main garage lighting should not be on a GFCI for safety sake as you never want to be in a dark garage if a GFI trips off, however if the lighting fixture is accessible while standing on the grounded floor of the garage then the light fixture should be GFCI protected.

NEC 210.8 GFCI Protection for Garages and Accessory Buildings

  • GFCI protection is required for all 15A and 20A, 125V receptacles in garages and in grade-level portions of unfinished or finished accessory buildings used for storage or work areas of a dwelling unit.

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Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all projects.

FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

6 Responses to “Electrical Code for Garage GFI Outlets and Receptacles”
  1. Stephen says:

    Are GFCI outlets required for all outlets in the garage (Florida) ? I’ve been given variable answers depending on if it’s for a freezer or if it’s on the ceiling then no, etc..but want to know for sure to be safe? Thank you!

    • Dave Rongey says:

      Hi Stephen,
      Accessible general purpose outlets in the garage should be protected with GFCI. Exceptions are for single outlets (not duplex) that are for specific equipment such as a whole house vacuum system and ceiling mounted garage door opener. Refrigerator and freezers located in the garage have a history of causing GFCI outlets to trip off, therefore the outlet for these devices are not required to be GFCI protected as long as the outlet is not readily accessible, or if it is a single outlet.
      One additional thought here is that the garage circuit wiring should be configured so that a tripped GFCI circuit breaker or outlet does not leave a person in the dark.
      I hope this helps,

  2. Scott Hoenig says:

    What is the least quantity of outlets in a garage? I have a new home with one outlet in 2 car garage, and two outlets in the ceiling for the garage door openers which have not much access. There is only one usable outlet. Its seems hard to believe in a huge garage that there is only one outlet on wall.

    • Dave Rongey says:

      Hi Scott,
      Most spec homes or track houses are built as inexpensively as possible, however they are up to the current building and electrical code requirements at the time of construction. When a custom home is built there is typically more planning and discussion about specific needs and preferences for outlets, lighting and other electrical devices. Depending on the home development company or the general contractor there may be a higher standard which will include more convenience devices such as additional outlets in the garage. When building a new home or remodeling an existing home it’s always a difficult decision to make about where to draw the line for adding more features. The end result will effect the overall budget of cost of the construction project. Adding additional circuits or outlets after a home is built is possible, however it is always more labor intensive and costly than during the initial construction phase.
      Thanks for sharing with us Scott,

      • Randy says:

        Is it allowed by the NEC Electrical Code for the GFI plugs in the garage to be on 14/2 wire?

        • Dave Rongey says:

          Hi Randy,
          The NEC Electrical Code Section 210, specifically Article 210.52(G) states that one receptacle outlet is required for each car space,and NEC Article 210.8 (A)(2) states that GFCI protection is required for all 120volt 15amp and 20 amp receptacles. 120volt, 15amp garage circuits are typically wired with 14/2. If the circuit is wired for specific equipment then the amperage and wire size will be based upon the equipment specifications or applicable NEC Electrical Codes.
          Thanks for sharing your garage electrical code question,


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