I am installing an electric outdoor pole lantern which will be fed by an underground UF cable in conduit buried 24"

I would like to tap into a new GFCI outlet which will will be replacing a regular receptacle on an inside garage wall 15' from the lantern pole.

I have done electrical wiring on my homes over the years, but I want to make sure I plan out this project to make sure I'm not overlooking anything. current receptacle wiring views When replacing the current receptacle with the GFCI will the load and line wires be connected as they were on the old receptacle-the two black loads on the gold screws and the the two whites on the silver screws?

When I connect the line and load stripped wires from the uf cables can I just push them on the appropriate small hot and load holes on the back of the GFCI?

Any advice and suggestions would be greatly appreciated

1 Answer 1


Ok first we gotta fix that box. It has a missing knockout and does not have enough space. Fortunately you're in an unfinished part of the home so there's no drywall mudding to do.


  • a nice, large 4" square steel box. It has a ground screw hole pre-tapped 10-32. Try to get one with a little bump for the ground screw so it won't be drilling into the wood.
  • a lid for a steel box intended for one GFCI (meaning it has the rectangular Decora style opening).
  • A #10-32 ground screw with or without pigtail.
  • a foot of Romex of approprite size for pigtails (#12 if 20A breaker, otherwise #12 or #14)
  • some wire nuts, always good to have.

Tear the old wires off the old box (it really won't matter) and pry the old box off the wall. On the new box, fit the ground screw in the hole tapped 10-32. This is mainly so when you're attaching it, you don't accidentally put a nail/screw in the ground hole.

I strongly recommend screws. Mount the new box. Now the ground screw must be able to bottom out, so do what you have to so it can. Put a ground pigtail on that ground screw. That is the key to the grounding system, you will not use the ground screw on the GFCI (so one less wire to wrangle, yay!)

Now knock out three of the knockouts on your 4" box for your existing two and one new cable. Use proper cable clamps like those on your old box. I would recommend doing one cable at a time.

On the GFCI/receptacle, leave the tape on the LOAD terminals.

Since you do not know which of your existing cables is supply, guess... and connect its hot and neutral to the LINE inputs of the GFCI/receptacle. Cap/wrap/position the other wires safely. Power up and see if the GFCI works. If not, try the other cable. So you have found supply. Leave it attached.

Now, fit your other cables into the box. Wire-nut all grounds together and push them into the back of the box, remember there is not a ground wire on the GFCI/receptacle.

Take the "know what you're doing" sticker off the LOAD terminals. Now there's only one hot screw (brass) and one neutral screw (silver) on the LOAD side, but you need to attach 2 wires to it. You can't stack wires, so you use a pigtail. That is an additional piece of wire you get from shucking the jacket off Romex, 6" should suffice. For each black and white, attach it to the appropriate LOAD terminal. Now you have 3 black wires, the old load, the new load, and the pigtail. Join them with a wire nut. Ditto white.

Or if you're not ready to light up the outside run, just leave it out (still wire-nut the pigtail to the old load wire) and add the new wire later. Protect the loose wires so they don't short against something, e.g. put a wire nut on the end and tape it down so it stays put (they like to come off single wires).

Button it all up: fit the receptacle to the lid, then the lid to the box.
Give it a test.

The receptacle gets its ground through surface contact yoke-lid and lid-box, then to the ground screw. External GFCI testers rely on ground as a fault path, so if you haven't buttoned it up and the tester hasn't worked, that is why.

A pigtail looks like this

enter image description here source

Wait, why did they pigtail that, when they had enough screw terminals? Perhaps the location was awkward and they didn't want to be up there, back bent over, fitting 4 screws. So they fit the pigtails on the bench, in comfort, and crawled in there, 2 wirenuts, done! I do that all the time. Nothing wrong with using pigtails when you don't have to.

  • Hi Harper thanks for your help Please clarify what I am unclear about - How do the 3 wires from the UF cable connect to the GFCI
    – provlima
    Sep 20, 2017 at 12:34
  • @provlima its ground goes into the ground bundle with all the other grounds. Sep 20, 2017 at 13:48
  • @ Harper what about the hot and neutral wires from the UF cable feed? Can they be inserted into the small LINE pair of push holes in the back of the GFCI ?
    – provlima
    Sep 20, 2017 at 15:08
  • @provlima lemme guess, you are accustomed to every wire landing on a screw terminal? 2 wires need to go to each screw terminal on the GFCI's LOAD side, so we need to pigtail. This is where you put a short wire on the one screw, and then wire-nut this pigtail with all the other wires which need that screw. Sep 20, 2017 at 15:11
  • @provlima sorry, I misunderstood what you asked. Better GFCIs use a scheme called screw-and-clamp which allows you to poke 2 wires in 2 holes directly beneath the screw head, and then crank the screw down to secure the wires. The slick thing about this is you can really land 2 wires per screw, or 8 wires total (2 line hot 2 line neu 2 load hot 2 load neu). Yes, if your GFCIs have the ability, use it. Sep 13, 2018 at 21:07

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