The title says it all. It appears wet locations require not only GFCI protection but also weatherproof boxes and appropriately rated everything, but I can't find much addressing damp locations. Most prototypically damp locations are called out directly (kitchens, garages, basements); I can't find any blanket statement applying to damp locations.

Part of the issue might depend on how one construes "outdoors". Is a screened patio that's fully under the same roof as the primary structure indoors or outdoors? The glossary at the start of the document unfortunately does not formally specify this term.

  • 2
    What's the point of asking? GCFI in damp locations is clearly a good idea, are you trying to save a few bucks?
    – Bryce
    Aug 13, 2012 at 4:55
  • @Bryce Legitimately interested. All possible GFCI outlet locations are pretty non-obvious should they trip. The wiring I am replacing was not GFCI protected for the last 75 years or so, apparently without problem. Aug 13, 2012 at 6:59
  • Revisited this while looking at front-door lighting, where a tripped GFCI would lead to a dark entryway which is itself a safety and security issue. Code very clearly restricts GFCI protection requirements to receptacles, not outlets or circuits in general. GFCI protection can affect how deep you must bury underground cable runs: headed to a lamp pole? Bury 24" down without GFCI, only 12" with. Here is a quick forum discussion from 2007 on the topic; the Code references are still valid as of the 2011 NEC. Sep 22, 2012 at 7:48
  • If the circuit is only powering a light, it seems unlikely that you'd get a nuisance GFCI trip.
    – Hank
    Oct 22, 2012 at 0:23

2 Answers 2


A quick check of the NEC 2008 definition section, might yield an answer. GFCI protection is required in all wet, and damp locations. It is also required in some dry locations, where specified in the code.

Location, Damp. Locations protected from weather and not subject to saturation with water or other liquids but subject to moderate degrees of moisture. Examples of such locations include partially protected locations under canopies, marquees, roofed open porches, and like locations, and interior locations subject to moderate degrees of moisture, such as some basements, some barns, and some coldstorage warehouses.

Location, Dry. A location not normally subject to dampness or wetness. A location classified as dry may be temporarily subject to dampness or wetness, as in the case of a building under construction.

Location, Wet. Installations underground or in concrete slabs or masonry in direct contact with the earth; in locations subject to saturation with water or other liquids, such as vehicle washing areas; and in unprotected locations exposed to weather.

Let us also look at section 406.8 Receptacles in Damp or Wet Locations.

(A) Damp Locations. A receptacle shall be considered to be in a location protected from the weather where located under roofed open porches, canopies, marquees, and the like, and will not be subjected to a beating rain or water runoff.

According to this section, you might also need a weatherproof cover for the receptacles.

A receptacle installed outdoors in a location protected from the weather or in other damp locations shall have an enclosure for the receptacle that is weatherproof when the receptacle is covered (attachment plug cap not inserted and receptacle covers closed).

You might have a bit of wiggle room if the space is completely enclosed, but you still might consider GFCI protection just to be on the safe side.

Section 210.8 Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Protection for Personnel. specifies locations that require GFCI protection.

(A) Dwelling Units. All 125-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-ampere receptacles installed in the locations specified in (1) through (8) shall have ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection for personnel.

(1) Bathrooms

(2) Garages, and also accessory buildings that have a floor located at or below grade level not intended as habitable rooms and limited to storage areas, work areas, and areas of similar use

(3) Outdoors

Exception to (3): Receptacles that are not readily accessible and are supplied by a dedicated branch circuit for electric snow-melting or deicing equipment shall be permitted to be installed in accordance with 426.28.

(4) Crawl spaces — at or below grade level

(5) Unfinished basements — for purposes of this section, unfinished basements are defined as portions or areas of the basement not intended as habitable rooms and limited to storage areas, work areas, and the like

Exception to (5): A receptacle supplying only a permanently installed fire alarm or burglar alarm system shall not be required to have ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection.

FPN: See 760.41(B) and 760.121(B) for power supply requirements for fire alarm systems. Receptacles installed under the exception to 210.8(A)(5) shall not be considered as meeting the requirements of 210.52(G).

(6) Kitchens — where the receptacles are installed to serve the countertop surfaces

(7) Laundry, utility, and wet bar sinks — where the receptacles are installed within 1.8 m (6 ft) of the outside edge of the sink

(8) Boathouses

Depending on the porch construction, this space may or may not be considered "outdoors". Because "outdoors" is not specifically defined, I would air on the side of caution and install GFCI protection and weatherproof covers. Use your best judgment and the definitions of damp, dry and wet locations to make a decision. Keep in mind, however, the inspector will have the final say as to what is and is not required.

  • You found the same passages I found, so I'm forced to conclude what I'm doing falls in a regulatory aporia. I'm picking up a GFCI receptacle today to provide downstream protection to the luminaire. Even without much guidance from Code here, it seems unconscionable not to provide GFCI protection. Aug 13, 2012 at 16:57

NEC GFCI requirements Underwater pool lighting since 1968

On Receptacles:

  • Outdoors (since 1973)
  • Bathrooms (since 1975)
  • Garages (since 1978)
  • Kitchens (since 1987)
  • Crawl spaces and unfinished basements (since 1990)
  • Wet bar sinks (since 1993)
  • Laundry and utility sinks (since 2005)

Looking for any further wiggle room?

Feeling that light tingle in damp conditions might be the last thing you remember.

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    Enclosed porch - is it heated and habitable year round? If not, it's outside and per NEC 1996, requires GFCI. Aug 13, 2012 at 7:11
  • +1 for the "tingle" Use GFIC's in that seasonal structure, be safe. Aug 13, 2012 at 11:10
  • Do you have a NEC code reference for the "heated and habitable year round" criteria? Others were apparently unable to find any definition of "outdoors".
    – Hank
    Oct 22, 2012 at 0:25

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