We have a very old house, which has had an old run of electrical cable (2-wire) from the basement about 40ft to a lamp post that has been unused. The old cable has been disconnected, and the current plan is the following:

  • Use the old line to pull a new cable in to the basement
  • Add a new, 13th breaker (20A) to the panel for this line
  • The cabling will be outdoor 12/3
  • The cable will be buried 18-inches inside PVC (because it runs by a garden and there could be future digging)
  • The lamp post will have a GFCI outlet, a motion detector, and a light attached
  • The run will contine to the garage which currently has no lights or outlets (another 12 or so ft)
  • Will add in a GFCI outlet, then a few LED overhead lights to the garage.

My main question is this - I had a client with outdoor lamps get lightning strikes and fry stuff in their office (like 8k in equipment). Is it wise to add a new grounding rod near the outdoor lamp post? (post is currently wood, but someway will be replaced with metal)

  • Have you checked to see if the old conduit is actually still pullable? If it is very old chances are that its not pullable anymore for many possible reasons.
    – Tyson
    Sep 25, 2017 at 17:26
  • Where it goes under the (dont remember the term for the bit between the foundation and the rest of the house under the siding) we found it moves. Because it's old were going to use fishing line to hopefully not have to deal with that kind of issue
    – solenoid
    Sep 25, 2017 at 17:33
  • 1
    Why are you using 12/3 and not 12/2? I don't see any mention of a MWBC or 240V service
    – mmathis
    Sep 25, 2017 at 18:15
  • @mmathis running two circuits - one for the pole light and the lights in the garage, the other for the outlets in the garage for power tools. Is this not a correct application?
    – solenoid
    Oct 3, 2017 at 18:24

1 Answer 1


You can put a proper ground rod there if you really want to, and tie iti n with the grounding system. There's no restriction on grounding, what you can't do is tie neutral to ground.

Now... Why are you putting GFCI outlets all over the place, outdoors no less? GFCI devices perform very badly outdoors and it will be a maintenance headache.

You only have one circuit, so you only need one GFCI device. If this comes as a surprise to you, this is a great time to get educated. Save you a fortune in the long run.

And put it indoors. So it's out of the weather.

If you're simple, fit a GFCI breaker. Otherwise you can run EMT conduit off the service panel to a nearby location (like right next to the panel) and fit a steel box, and a cheaper GFCI deadface or liveface receptacle there. That will position it to take the lightning hit instead of your expensive stuff.

The outdoor circuit gets fed off that, and you use plain receptacles throughout. If the circuit has good grounds, you should be able to confirm the efficacy of the GFCI protection with a pocket tester.

  • Is there something else you could recommend for outdoor outlets? We're right by the ocean, and the garage is umm, not very well sealed from the elements, so with one being on the pole and the other in the garage, I thought using those and the covers they came with could help out a bit with all the salty moisture.
    – solenoid
    Sep 25, 2017 at 17:36
  • @solenoid oh no, it'll be exactly the opposite, the elements will eat the GFCI devices. You are better off with plain receptacles. Also those covers are absolute trash, designed to meet the UL testing regime not real world conditions, I often remove those covers and watch a receptacle full of water drain out of the box proper! I build little birdhouses over top of them so rain can't land on them, helps a lot. You still get condensation. Sep 25, 2017 at 17:57
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    I agree with GFCI'S inside if possible or you will be changing them out every few years. If a good quality (metal) in use cover is used and sealed it can extend the outlets life but fog and sea air cause failures in the electronics in just a few years no matter how well covered in my experience.
    – Ed Beal
    Sep 25, 2017 at 19:05
  • @EdBeal Are there any plugs that can sustain being outdoors in the northeast near water? Something from the nautical side of things perhaps? Or is it just going to be a fact of life =/
    – solenoid
    Oct 3, 2017 at 18:25

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