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I have a few outdoor GFCI receptacles. (They are on different circuits.) I probably use these receptacles for 2 hours in a given year. In other words, I rarely use these receptacles.

Keep in mind that, because of the harsh conditions of the elements, outdoor GFCI receptacles lose their GFCI abilities much sooner than their indoor counterparts.

Each GFCI receptacle has a "TEST" button that one can use (in conjunction with the "RESET" button) to ensure that the GFCI circuitry inside of the receptacle is still functional.

Should I press the "TEST" button on the outdoor GFCI receptacles, in order to effectively "turn them off", when they are not in use? Specifically, will I prolong the life of the GFCI circuitry by doing this?

If not, isn't it generally safer to "turn off" an outdoor GFCI outlet when it is not in use (which is over 99% of the time), especially considering things like humidity?

I don't mind having to press the RESET button (to restore power to the receptacle) the one or two times a year that I need to use the receptacle...

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    There's really no test "mode", which confused me at first. I've revised your title to make the question more clear. Feel free to edit further. – isherwood Aug 11 '17 at 18:15
  • I don't think deenergizeing the outlet will help and it may reduce the life. When the circuit is live it creates some heat that would drive out moisture if the circuit is powered up with moisture that may cause it to blow. I have no data to back this up as the circuit may still be live when triped. – Ed Beal Aug 11 '17 at 19:01
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The "TEST" button is not intended as an "off" switch. Edit: except this one is designed for that purpose. Tripping the device when not in use might help the internal electronics avoid surge/spike damage. Might, depending on which side of the interrupt the electronics are on.

However, for an GFCI device kept in the mean outdoors, that is the least of your problems, as discussed elsewhere. The small amount of heat from the GFCI may help ward off condensation. The best way to extend the life of a GFCI is move it indoors.

Almost all GFCI devices, including "receptacles", are able to grant GFCI protection to additional devices. You can put one of those indoors somewhere earlier in the circuit, and have it grant GFCI protection to the rest of the circuit, including the outdoor receptacle. That becomes a plain receptacle with a "GFCI protected" sticker. Test using a 3-light tester which has a GFCI test button.

  • 1. What makes you think the circuits are dedicated? That's not true. 2. No indoor receptacles are downstream of an outdoor GFCI receptacle. 3. I don't see how this response answers my question exactly. – Navigator Aug 11 '17 at 19:50
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    @Navigator 1. You said "turn off" the GFCI and the only place to do that is the breaker. 2 what about upstream? 3 Because you asked an XY problem. – Harper Aug 11 '17 at 20:19
  • I just realized that a mod completely rewrote my question, and, in doing so, obfuscated my question. Here was my original question: Is there any benefit to putting a GFCI receptacle in TEST mode, when it's not in use? – Navigator Aug 11 '17 at 22:44
  • @Navigator - I think what you are trying to ask is if the GFCI will have a longer life if you trip the test button on that device. And the answer is no. It's the extreme or harsh environment that kills electrical devices not the electrical status. – Retired Master Electrician Aug 13 '17 at 11:21
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GFCI receptacles installed at the exterior of a structure (wet or damp location) should be listed as WR (weather resistant), and are designed for the conditions they would be exposed to, non WR receptacles are improper in this application. Tripping the GFCI receptacle with the test button should be done once each month, but I do not see any benefit in leaving the receptacle in the tripped mode.

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