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Do Garage Outlets Need to Be GFCI (Guide To When & How)

GFCI outlets are an essential part of keeping your home safe. These GFCI outlets are required in every area where water is near. The NEC highly recommends using the GFCI outlet in areas such as the kitchen and bathroom. But what about your garage area?

In general, yes you need GFCI outlets in the garage. The NEC requires that all 120-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-ampere receptacles installed in garages (and many other locations) be GFCI-protected. The rationale for this requirement is that garages and areas like bathrooms and kitchens are places with a higher risk of electrical shock due to the potential presence of water and damp conditions.

I’ll go into more detail about this in the below article.

Should I Use GFCI Outlets for My Garage?

a black and glass garage door
Video | Tools Guider

According to the NEC code, every household in the US should use GFCI outlets in spaces where water is present. This includes your garage too.

A garage is a place where water can get to your outlets.

Why a Garage Needs GFCI Outlets?

The garage can get exposed to flooding or other water damage on the lower floor. Because of that, the garage outlets should be GFCI outlets. That way, all the outlets will shut down quickly in an emergency. This quick shutdown will prevent further damage to your appliances and wiring.

Should I Use GFCI Outlets for Garage Door Openers?

Yes. All garage door openers should run on GFCI outlets. In the past, people didn’t use GFCI outlets for garages. But since 2008, the NEC has recommended all US households use GFCI outlets for them.

Should I Use GFCI Outlets for Garage Ceilings Outlets?

Yes. You should use GFCI outlets for garage ceiling outlets too. The garage ceiling can get damped over time.

Should I Use GFCI Outlets for Garage Lights?

That depends on the lighting setup. For instance, if the lights are connected to the garage outlet, you must use GFCI outlets.

However, if the lights are hardwired, there won’t be any problem.

What Are GFCI Outlets?

a gfci outet on a white wall
Video | Electrician U

GFCI, aka Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter outlets, are common electrical devices. You might have 1 or 2 GFCI outlets at your home too.

But have you ever thought about what exactly a GFCI outlet does?

GFCI outlets are often used in areas where water exists. For instance, the kitchen, bathroom, and garage can get exposed to water. Hence, the GFCI outlet act as the circuit breaker and shuts down the power when a ground fault occurs. This process will protect you from any electric shock.

Here are some common situations that can start a ground fault.

  • Wet areas with lots of electricity
  • When using leaking or faulty appliances or tools
  • Damaged wires or wire cords

How To Test Your GFCI Outlets Without Any Tools?

If you are using a GFCI outlet, you should know how to test them. A faulty GFCI outlet can cause dangers for you and your home. I’ll teach you a simple and easy technique to test GFCI outlets in this section.

Using Test and Reset Buttons to Check the GFCI Outlets

Every GFCI outlet comes with two buttons. You can clearly see those buttons in the above image. These buttons are test and reset buttons.

To check GFCI outlets, use these buttons:

First, press the test button on the outlet. This will short-circuit the outlet, and the power will be cut off.

Also, the reset button should pop out.

Then, press the reset button. This will reconnect the outlet to the main power supply.

When a GFCI outlet gets power, you can see a small green light on the top or bottom.

There won’t be active green lights when the outlet is not getting power.

Important: Although the above method is easy to check your GFCI outlet, it is not the most accurate test in the world. For instance, if the GFCI outlet faces a voltage issue, you cannot check that with the above technique. For that, you’ll need a digital multimeter.

How Often Should You Check a GFCI Outlet?

Like most things in life, GFCI outlets also wear out with time. Hence, I would recommend testing your GFCI outlet at least once a month. It will keep you and your home safe.

Do Garage Door Openers Need AFCI Protection?

Now you know every garage door opener should run on GFCI outlets. However, I can’t leave out the AFCI protection when discussing garage door openers. Do garage door openers need AFCI protection?

According to NEC 2017 edition, every garage door opener should have AFCI protection. AFCI protection will detect sparks or arcs inside your electrical outlet.

On the other hand, GFCI protection will cover the electrical imbalance in the outlet.

Hence, GFCI and AFCI protections are vital for garage door openers.

How Much Does It Cost to Install a GFCI Outlet?

GFCI outlet installation cost depends on two factors.

  • Cost of one GFCI outlet
  • Labor Cost

If you can calculate the above two costs, you can easily find the installation cost for the GFCI outlets.

Cost of a GFCI Outlet

A GFCI outlet costs you around $7 to $25. As you can understand, this kind of project’s material cost is very low. But I cannot say the same about the labor cost.

Labor Cost for GFCI Outlet

Installing a GFCI outlet is complicated, and a qualified professional should do it. Because of these reasons, the cost is a bit higher.

Depending on the type of installation, you’ll have to pay between $130 and $300 for one GFCI outlet installation. The average cost is $210, so hire a trustworthy electrician.


Video References


Electrician U

Tools Guider

The Electrical Guide

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About Alex Robertson

AvatarCertifications: B.M.E.
Education: University Of Denver - Mechanical Engineering
Lives In: Denver Colorado

Hi, I’m Alex! I’m a co-founder, content strategist, and writer and a close friend of our co-owner, Sam Orlovsky. I received my Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (B.M.E.) degree from Denver, where we studied together. My passion for technical and creative writing has led me to help Sam with this project.

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