enter image description hereAn electrician put an electrical outlet box in our covered porch ceiling. We want to hang a light fixture (one with a cord and plug over a dining table). I will be installing the outlet myself. Do I need a GFCI outlet or just a 15 amp regular outlet? The wiring is in the attic above the ceiling. The porch has sliding glass windows, the ceiling cannot get wet from rain, but there is normal humidity when the windows are open.enter image description hereenter image description here

  • I take it you're mounting the fixture to the joists and using a swag kit to wire the fixture to the outlet? Is said swag kit designed for cord-and-plug connection or hardwiring? – ThreePhaseEel Sep 13 '18 at 19:52
  • I added a photo of a similar fixture. Simple direct plug into the outlet. – BooandLuna Sep 13 '18 at 20:16
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    Since the area is enclosed I would use a standard outlet, If you might plug in things and run an extension cord outside then a GFCI would be needed. Code used to exempt even outside outlets above 6-1/2 feet but that exemption has been gone for many years. – Ed Beal Sep 13 '18 at 21:12
  • Seems like an answer, Ed. – isherwood Sep 14 '18 at 0:48
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    If you do opt for ground fault protection a GFCI breaker might be a better option than an outlet. Having the reset out of reach isn't ideal. – Matthew Gauthier Sep 14 '18 at 12:09

It sounds like you described a damp area, like a bathroom. Bathroom lighting does not require GFCI. But...

First, you are never required to use a GFCI receptacle. You can use a plain receptacle, and if GFCI protection is even required, that can be provided from another GFCI device upstream. Also, having a GFCI device past a light switch is a bad idea, so if this is sourced from a wall switch, no GFCI here. That's a hardware limitation, not Code.

You also can't put a GFCI where shorter members of your family need a ladder to reset it. How will they see to work?

Also practical, you don't want to put any GFCI device where it'l be exposed to rain, spray or condensate, so an upstream/more indoor location is more appropriate. You wouldn't charge your iPhone out here!

The next question to ponder is whether you'll be touching or contacting this light. Bathroom lights are generally grounded and garage or hi-bay lighting is usually unreachable. If frequent contact or no ground, there’s a practical argument to be made toward GFCI protection, just because it "takes off the table" any risk of electrocution.

Now ceiling receptacles are perfectly normal for lighting. Wiring luminaires via cord and plug connection is perfectly allowed due to NEC 400.6.

  • @Kris did this comment go on the answer you intended? – Harper Sep 14 '18 at 14:01
  • Yeah -- IIRC, the Code requires GFCI devices to be readily accessible, which would prohibit sticking one in the ceiling :) – ThreePhaseEel Sep 14 '18 at 14:48

The code section that deals with GFCI protection for residential dwellings that would apply to you is 2018 NEC 210.8(A)(11) which specifically is for indoor damp or wet locations.

The extra level of protection a GFCI offers is worth it as long as you don't create other problems in the process. For example, the GFCI should be accessible without too much effort. For this reason I'd recommend installing a GFCI switch in place of the regular switch. If no switch, then GFCI breaker or accessible outlet upstream.

The code also requires AFCI protection for all habitable rooms so you might as well install a DFCI ( GFCI + AFCI) breaker and be done with it.


Anytime there is a higher chance of rain, water splashing, possibly condensation you should always install a GFCI; Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter...they should always be in a bathroom or a kitchen. Not a place to save money that is for sure! These things should be installed by a licensed and bonded electrician to protect your home owner's insurance!

  • So one would conclude, then, that a GFCI isn't necessary here. There's no more chance of water splashing that outlet than there would be in a bedroom, for example. – isherwood Sep 14 '18 at 0:47
  • Check your building codes. If any electrical stuff is done it is usually a hard and fast rule that only a licensed, bonded electrician can do the work. This protects your home insurance. Protects your investment of home insurance. If you have a fire and they find work done not to code and there is no proof of installation by 'real' electrician, even if that piece of work was not the cause of the fire, it might negate your insurance completely. I've never seen outlets on patios or completely covered and screened porches that weren't GFCI. With the little snap covers? Electrician knows code – stormy Sep 14 '18 at 1:05
  • An electrician knows the most current codes and records the work they've done. Used to be we homeowners could install low voltage landscape utilities such as lighting. Not anymore. Certainly there are these packages for lighting but not the same thing. Your enclosed space might pass muster for no GFCI but I worry about home owners DIY electrical and even plumbing work fitting into the sigh, legal system and insurance coverage. That ceiling is absolutely breathtaking! Use a black cover for that box. Makes it invisible. – stormy Sep 14 '18 at 1:12

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