Wiring a GFCI Outlet with a Switch

By Dave Rongey - Summary:

How to Wire a GFCI Outlet with a Switch – There are a few different methods that are used to wire GFI Outlets but all start with locating the Line side of the GFCI Receptacle where the power source is attached as described.

Identifying the Wiring for a New GFCI Outlet

Electrical Question: I am replacing an ungrounded 2nd generation duplex outlet with a GFCI outlet.

  • The existing outlet is controlled by a switch.
  • There are three wires present, one red wire attached to the left side upper terminal and two white wires attached to the right side terminals.
  • Would I attached the red to the brass line terminal of the GFCI and the whites to the silver line terminal of the GFCI

This electrical wiring question came from: Rick, a Homeowner from New Jersey

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Rick.

How to Wire a GFCI Outlet with a Switch

Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools and Voltage Tester.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience and ability to work with tools.
Precaution: Identify the source power circuit, turn it OFF and  Tag it with a Note before working with the wiring.

There are a few different methods that are used to wire GFI Outlets but all start with locating the Line side of the GFCI Receptacle where the power source is attached as described.

  • The wiring assignments for the new GFCI outlet are as follows:
    • The brass screw is for the hot wire, and the silver screw is for the neutral wire.
    • The wiring that you have described for the existing outlet should be verified because you have stated that the outlet is controlled by a switch.
    • Once the wiring has been identified then the wiring should be connected to the Line side of the GFCI outlet.
    • The GFCI outlet must be labeled stating that the outlet does not have a ground source.

The Following will assist you with wiring GFCI Outlets:

electrical outlet wiring

  • Wiring Electrical Outlet for the Home
  • Home electrical wiring includes 110 volt outlets and 220 volt outlets and receptacles which are common place in every home. See how wiring electrical outlets for the home are done.

wiring a switch
Wiring a Light Switch – Diagram 1

electrical wire

  • Electrical Wire for the Home
  • Complete listing of electrical wire types and parts used for home projects with electrical code information serves as selection guidelines.

For more information about GFCI Wiring
GFCI Wiring
GFCI Wiring

  • GFCI Wiring
  • This list of articles will help you learn about the features and benefits provided by GFI and GFCI Receptacles and how they are wired.

Learn How to Wire it Right with my
Complete Guide to Home Electrical Wiring
Perfect for Homeowners, Students,
Handyman, Handywomen, and Electricians
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Electrical Codes for Home Electrical Wiring
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» Click here to learn more about Home Electrical Wiring «
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FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

2 Responses to “Wiring a GFCI Outlet with a Switch”
  1. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Bob,
    My personal preference is that a garage door opener outlet or ceiling lighting should not be protected by a GFCI in the garage. My reason is for safety, to make sure that these vital components remain ON and available even if the GFCI protection trips off for the accessible garage outlets. In order to accomplish this and be compliant with the NEC code a Single outlet should be installed for the garage door opened, not a Duplex.
    Wiring for this setup would be to make the connections before the GFCI outlet, or with the LINE side of the GFCI, not the LOAD.

  2. bob d says:

    I am installing 20a circuit to my garage. I have 4 boxes, first one will be a double with a GFI and a separate switch to control, an outlet on the ceiling to the garage door opener. 2 more boxes/receptable down stream from the gfi double box.
    How do I wire the switch from the GFI to control only the ceiling outlet? I want the 3 wall receptable (GFI and the 2 downstream) to remain on when the switch is turned off.
    Do I go from switch to load to protect the ceiling receptacle to switch only that receptacle on /off or to line? If I went to line would it be protected?
    Thank you


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