I found this DIY article online which suggests that running Romex along the center faces of studs and rafters was code compliant for unfinished garages.

How to Wire a Garage

The article is dated 2002, is this still the case? I have attempted to dig through NEC 2008, but so far have not been able to find a reference to support this style of wiring. It seems a lot easier than running conduit, but that is of course secondary to being able to pass inspection.

  • Thank you very much for the prompt answer! What is the best way to find this information in the NEC to support that it should pass? The version I have is quite lengthy and difficult to search.
    – Robert
    Commented Nov 15, 2011 at 7:06
  • Most codes are not easy to search, often a single article references many other articles (sometimes in other codes). The best way to learn the information is to become an apprentice, and learn from a master electrician. Electrical work really is not DIY, and is best left to those who dedicate their life to it.
    – Tester101
    Commented Nov 15, 2011 at 13:16
  • Actually, electrical work is very DIY, and once some basics are learned it's not that hard. There exist mini-codebooks with good summaries of most rules, and well many good DIY books. Anytime you're worried about the code, the only correct solution is to talk w/your local building department - both for permitting if needed and to review your work if unsure. (I just wired my entire house myself w/very few issues) Commented Nov 26, 2011 at 5:05

1 Answer 1


That article seems to still be correct. When running exposed cable, the main concern is protecting the cable from damage. Which means not running cable on the face of framing members, no horizontal runs below 8' (from the floor), and try to avoid perpendicular runs through rafters.

When running cables between two receptacles, you'll want to run vertically up the wall above the top plate before going horizontally to the next receptacle. This will protect the wire from folks hanging things on it, storing things behind it (using it to hold things in the voids), and other goofy things people might do to it (as demonstrated in the article).

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The article also points out why you want to try avoiding running cables perpendicular through rafters.

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The article does not seem to mention that all 125-volt, single-phase, 15 and 20-ampere receptacles installed in garages must be Tamper-Resistant and protected by a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI).

The GFCI protection can be provided via a GFCI breaker in the panel, or as a GFCI receptacle. If you are installing a GFCI receptacle, you'll want to install one at the beginning of each branch circuit that will contain receptacles. Connect the feeder cable from the panel to the line side of the GFCI receptacle, and the cable feeding downstream devices to the load side. This will protect all down stream devices, as per code.

  • Would this include a garage door opener that is not hard-wired? Normally, motors are either on a dedicated circuit or on a shared circuit that is not GFCI-protected. Should it be split off before the GFCI, or should it have a dedicated circuit since it is technically a motor?
    – user4302
    Commented Nov 17, 2011 at 1:18
  • @JohnGaughan I don't remember if the current code calls for the garage door lift receptacle to be GFCI protected, but I don't think it does (it may depend on where the receptacle is ceiling/wall, and how high it is). I would junction before the GFCI to feed the garage door opener, but I'm not sure if that meets code anymore.
    – Tester101
    Commented Nov 17, 2011 at 17:39
  • @JohnGaughan After a quick search, looks like as of 08 all exceptions for garage GFCI protection were removed. So the Garage door lift receptacle, does have to be GFCI protected (along with all other garage receptacles). But... you may be grandfathered in, unless this is a new build, or the receptacle itself is being changed/added. Check with your local government to be sure.
    – Tester101
    Commented Nov 17, 2011 at 17:45
  • At some point I will be rewiring the garage since we need more lights and outlets, and the current wiring was never up to code. Neutral is used as a second hot to allow a 3-way switch to function on the same circuit as stuff that is always on over 12-3. While ground and neutral all go to the same grounding rod, I'm pretty sure they need to be separate on each branch. Regardless, my brother is an electrician so before I start work I would consult with him, I'm just trying to get an idea of what all is required ahead of time.
    – user4302
    Commented Nov 27, 2011 at 0:53

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