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I know all receptacles in a garage require GFCI protection. But what about garage lights? I plan to hard-wire some new wiring to new garage lights and I'm wondering if this circuit needs to be on a GFCI breaker.

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NEC 210.8.2 requires all outlets in a garage to be GFCI protected so if your lights are connected by an outlet they need GFCI protection if they are hard wired they do not require GFCI protection. Exhibit 210.10 provides a illustration of this.

  • Better check current code @phillippnagel, the code now states all outlets and the exhibit I referenced shows a gfci for a corded connected door opener. There used to be an exception over 5-1/2' but that was removed several code cycles back. – Ed Beal Jan 10 at 16:52
  • sorry, you are right, I just checked, I misread, the exception is for some very specific devices, not as general as I remembered. I'll delete my comment. – PhilippNagel Jan 10 at 17:21
  • when you say outlet do you mean receptacle? Technically, a hard-wired light fixture is an outlet – mathfrog Jan 10 at 19:33
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    Yes receptacle , not hard wired. – Ed Beal Jan 10 at 19:49
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Find out if your jurisdiction has adopted NEC 2014 yet. Many haven't, because the requirements for AFCI and GFCI are really, really over the top, especially since the requirements for $40 AFCI basically to cover lazy builders who insist on using backstabs. Pre-2014, garage lights whose receptacles are on the ceiling, and therefore are not readily accessible, do not require GFCI protection.

Most especially, lights should not share GFCI protection with common receptacles, because a tool tripping the GFCI will plunge you into the dark. Now you have a dreadful situation: you are blind, the saw blade is still turning with a lot of energy, and the SawStop's contact detection has lost power, so it will not stop the blade if you get your hand in it.

  • According to the wording and exhibit I cited they do require GFCI protection got hit on plugged in lights on the house my company built last year. In the handbook the commentary specifically states there are no exceptions all receptacles are required no matter there location in both the 14 & 17 code. – Ed Beal Jan 10 at 19:51
  • @EdBeal cite added. Either he considered your ceiling outlets accessible, or he has a local variance, or he's wrong. – Harper Jan 10 at 21:19
  • @EdBeal hold on, I'm not sure. I just realized my cite is rather dated. – Harper Jan 10 at 21:25
  • I agree with your comments both on the reason they have been required and that the lights should not be on the same circuit for safety reasons. – Ed Beal Jan 10 at 22:29
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Here in Italy is mandatory for all (home and home-related) circuits to be RCD-protected.
That's because here we use TT distribution and short-circuit current usually isn't enough to trip the magnetic breaker (short circuit protection). Also because RCD let trough little lower current than MCB so there's big chance of not being killed in case of touch of an active conductor compared with MCB-only protection.

So my suggestion is to install it anyway.

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