Placing a new outdoor pole light with a three way switch and outlet. Using 12/3 wire in conduit with One 3way switch in house. Question: what is the best way to have ground fault on outlet and switch?

  • Some clarification - do you want two switches, one on the pole and one in the house? Do you want the receptacle on the pole switched with the light, or always on? – batsplatsterson Dec 9 '18 at 13:58
  • Circuit is 15amp using 12/3 wire in conduit 120 from other switch in house. One switch on pole with outlet. Outlet will be on same circuit and controlled by the three way switchers. – Jon Dec 9 '18 at 14:05

One way to add GFCI protection for the outdoor lights and receptacle would be to use a GFCI breaker for the circuit. This will protect everything on the circuit, if there's anything else on it.

That may be a bonus, or may be a problem if you don't want GFCI protection on some of what's on that circuit. For example, if the sump pump in your basement is on that circuit, a nuisance GFCI trip could prevent the pump from working and you wind up with a flooded basement.

Another way would be to add GFCI protection anywhere between the panel and where the cable leaves the house. One way to do that would be to add a GFCI receptacle anywhere between the panel and the inside three way switch, maybe somewhere in the basement where the cable feeding the inside 3-way switch is accessible. The receptacles have LINE and LOAD side connections; you'd connect the LINE side to the power feed coming in, and the LOAD side to the outside lights etc. downstream. Depending on the routing of the circuits wiring, other loads, etc., other loads may be affected as with a breaker. If you install the GFCI receptacle right where the circuit comes out of the panel, it will affect all loads as would a GFCI breaker. If you install it where the cable to the pole exits the basement, it would only protect what's outside.

Another way would be to add a gang to the switch box and put a dead front GFCI in the switch box. I like this method because people can see the dead front right next to the switch if it trips and not have to think too hard.

dead face GFCI

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  • 1
    That photo is not a deadfront GFCI. That's the mythical GFCI switch: the answer to the question "Can I just use the test/reset buttons on my GFCI to turn off the loads everyday?" Not on normal ones, as they are not switch rated. This one is, you don't need a 2-gang box to put it next to the switch, it is a switch. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Dec 9 '18 at 16:11

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