I have been doing some reading and feel just about ready to add some more outlets to my garage. I would like to add 2-3 more outlets, 1 on one side at the top (maybe under the roof overhang) for Christmas lights, and two on the front of the garage for more lights and using tools. I planned on adding a new 20amp GFCI breaker with 12 gauge wire. By the way, I am located in Alameda County, California.

I will list all the code rules I am aware of here, but can you guys help me identify any more I might potentially need to comply with?

  • use circuit breaker of same brand as panel
  • must use gfci protection on all outdoor outlets (this should be covered by my breaker)
  • outdoor outlets must be at ground level to 6.5' high (does that mean I can't put the outlet under the roof overhang)?
  • I must use at least 12 gauge wire for my 20 amp circuit
  • wire must be stapled to wall studs near where the box is put in.

Thank you all for the help!

  • If you need more help figuring out the correct breaker for your panel, please post clear photos of the panel front and the label on the inside of the panel door and we can help you from there. Commented Nov 28, 2018 at 5:05
  • You can provide GFCI protection for the entire circuit by using a GFCI breaker in the panel instead of a standard breaker. With a GFCI breaker you use standard receptacles and they are GFCI protected. Alternatively, you can use a single GFCI receptacle in the first box in the circuit and this will protect the entire circuit if you feed the next receptacle with the load terminals on the GFCI receptacle. Commented Nov 28, 2018 at 10:50
  • Where in your house is your electric panel (aka load center)? Specifically is it in the garage? Commented Nov 28, 2018 at 10:53
  • Do you wish to extend an existing circuit that is in the garage or do you plan to install a new circuit starting with a new breaker in the panel? Commented Nov 28, 2018 at 11:38

2 Answers 2


Your breaker needs to be made to fit that panel or line of panels. For instance

  • Eaton/Cutler Hammer CH type panel ---- CH breakers
  • Eaton/Cutler Hammer/BRyant BR type ---- BR breakers
  • Challenger panel ---- Eaton BR breakers because of a special exception
  • Square D Homeline ---- Homeline breakers
  • Square D QO type --- Square D QO or Siemens QD breakers because Siemens/Murray made a competitor breaker for Square D's QO panels specifically

The thing not to do is say "well, if a BR breaker fits a Challenger maybe it'll fit my Siemens." It will semi-fit, the. fail badly.

GFCI protection at the breaker, you're all set. It solves the awkward problem of resetting a GFCI receptacle under an eave.

#12 on 20A is correct. #10 is also valid if you have a long >70' run, to reduce voltage drop, but for Christmas lights I wouldn't care until it was over 110'. For specialty service receptacles like under-eave ones for Christmas lights, calculate voltage drop based on the engineered load, not the breaker capacity.

Lights are a continuous load so you should only have 16A of lights on a 20A circuit. Also on LEDs think about VA, not watts, for instance a diodic 1 string LED string may use 10W but 20VA. That's because it draws 20W but only half the time -- it's 20VA because the generator needs to make the whole sinewave.

Wire only needs to be stapled to wall studs if you have access to do that. Center it on the joists to minimize its exposure to drywall screws etc. If you are fishing the wire in a finished home and you don't want to tear away the wall covering, you need not staple it.


You're almost there, but not quite

First off, matching breaker brand isn't quite enough to get you there, you need to use a breaker that your panel is labeled as compatible with (either via the loadcenter UL label or a labeling supplement provided with a classified breaker), as Square-D and Eaton (Siemens was this way too, but recent changes have ameliorated the situation) have two mutually-incompatible loadcenter product lines, and some loadcenter assemblies use other folks' breakers for one reason or another.

Second, an outlet can be more than 6.5' off the ground, but that means two things. First off, that outlet no longer counts as the outdoor outlet required by the Code in 210.52(E), so some other outlet has to do that job instead. Also, that outlet cannot have a GFCI put there, because said GFCI is no longer readily accessible.

Finally, you need an "extra duty" while-in-use cover (hood) on the outlet to keep water out of it, as well as a weather-resistant receptacle. These combine to mitigate water damage to the receptacle, but aren't perfect -- in particular, the plastic while-in-use covers are prone to breakage especially in cold conditions, so a metallic type is recommended instead for the extra robustness it provides.

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