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I know outdoor receptacles have to be GFCI, however my hot tub manual specifically says the breaker should be GFCI (does not mention the receptacle). I know there is also a GFCI near the hot tub motor as well. If the receptacle is already GFCI, does it make sense to have a GFCI breaker as well, isn't that a waste? I suppose I could only use a GFCI breaker and not a GFCI receptacle outside, but inspectors seem to frown on that and it's a pain to reset all the way in the basement if there's ever an issue. I'm in New York State USA.

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    There's no requirement for any receptacle to be GFCI. Very dull home inspectors are the only people who believe that. What matters (where GFCI is required) is the receptacle is fed from a GFCI-protected source. Receptacles so fed should have a label "GFCI Protected", and the only possible complaint the inspector can have is if that label is missing. I make my own plastic labels using a labelmaker because they look neater and more permanent than the free paper ones that come with GFCIs. – Harper May 14 '18 at 23:21
  • Now is this a gas fired hot tub or electric? – Harper May 14 '18 at 23:23
  • It's an electric hot tub which requires a 115v 20A dedicated circuit (which I'm running). If I opt for the GFCI breaker and standard receptacle, you're saying I simply have to label it as GFCI protected somewhere? – jjj May 15 '18 at 0:15
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    yes, that is how GFCI works when used skillfully. I recommend using a single receptacle (1 socket not 2) so the socket is truly dedicated. – Harper May 15 '18 at 0:24
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    If the instructions require it, then Code requires it. That is literally on the first page of Code. That is because the item was UL listed contingent on the instructions being followed. There are huge benefits of integrating GFCI into the breaker (or standalone GFCI) versus a GFCI at the receptacle. First, it means the wiring run is also protected, so if someone splashes water on the receptacle box, nothing bad can happen. Also, 1-socket receptacles are common, 1-socket GFCI+receptacles are scarce. By the way since "dedicated" is specified, that's mandatory. – Harper May 15 '18 at 15:47
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GFCI is not a receptacle or breaker. It is a zone of protection provided by the GFCI device. It protects everything down the line from the GFCI device.

Sometimes the GFCI device itself has a couple of convenience outlets that are on the protected side: a GFCI+receptacle combo device. This is what you mean when you casually say "GFCI", because this is the most visible form of GFCI device.

You are also familiar with the GFCI+circuit breaker combo device. This obviously protects loads downline, since it has no convenience outlets of its own, just two "LOAD" terminals. GFCI+breaker combos are $40-ish.

Then there is the GFCI-only (not a combo) device, a "black box" which does only the GFCI function. It has two LINE inputs, two LOAD outputs, and that's all. It typically comes in a rather familiar looking package, hence the slang term "deadfront". Deadfronts are about the price of the cheapest GFCI+receptacles since they don't need child-safe sockets nor outdoor rating, around $15-18.

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Since this is a dedicated circuit for 1 appliance, you also need a single plug. Common and $5 in plain sockets - rare and expensive in GFCIs.

Why do we care where we protect?

  • First, are the wires protected? If the GFCI+receptacle gets wet, or water gets inside the box, water can contact the non-protected wires directly. The GFCI tripping won't help you at that point. Not an issue with GFCI+receptacles upstream.
  • A GFCI outdoors is also ravaged by the elements and will have a much shorter service life, which is a shame because it also must be an "outdoor-rated" GFCI at extra cost.
  • Anti-tamper safety doors over the blades are required, these are much cheaper on plain receptacles than GFCI receptacles.
  • Cost -- GFCI+breaker combo devices are around $40 and you are married to your panel brand*; if your panel is an obsolete like Pushmatic, you're out of luck. Deadfronts cost $15-18 + $5 for a plain breaker. Outdoor rated, anti-tamper GFCI+receptacles cost $25+.

* Siemens makes breakers specifically for Square D QO panels; and UL lists them for QO panels only (they don't fit Siemens panels). However they are not any cheaper than Square D's QO breakers, so these "classified" breakers are a waste of time. So Don't mix and match brands, even if they "seem to" fit.

  • My only question is: why did you mention anti-tamper safety doors being required, but link to a dual-pole outlet without anti-tamper? – jjj May 16 '18 at 0:37
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Any receptacle within 3 feet of a water source has to be GFCI or be on a GFCI breaker. If a receptacle is protected by a GFCI or a GFCI breaker then it needs to be labeled. I was told that you should not have a GFCI receptacle on the same circuit as another GFCI, At the time I failed to inquire why. Trust me, if you trip a GFCI, it is worth the trip to the basement. A GFCI trips in a very short period of time, something like 1/10000 of a nanosecond! Your life is worth the trip.

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    1/10000 of a nanosecond! - that's thirty light-micrometers. Try 40milliseconds, at least for RCDs. GFCIs should be similar. An HRC fuse or MCB on a hard fault would be far, far, faster. – Someone Somewhere May 15 '18 at 9:55
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    Would give a plus if even close on the time but wrong on both counts ! a fuse is and will always be slower than an electronic device that can count 1/2 waveforms but this is only at 50/60Hz, now get the time right. Milli, micro nano, pico or 10x-3, -6, -9. -12 , please don't pull numbers out of the air and the reciprocal of the wavelength is the frequency FWIW. – Ed Beal May 15 '18 at 20:26

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