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.
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.
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.
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.