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We have an outdoor receptacle, under an enclosure and with flaps that drop down over the plug area, but not GFCI. We would like to use it for a light sensor timer, with 3-outlet powerblock. Is this safe or should we change out the receptacle?

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    How do you know it's not GFCI? It may be protected by a GFCI outlet in another receptacle in the same circuit or there may be a GFCI breaker in the panel.
    – jwh20
    Commented May 13, 2019 at 0:02
  • 4
    If you plug a GFCI tester into it, and push the "Test" button, does it trip off? Commented May 13, 2019 at 0:15

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You have asked the question in a way that indicates you are in North America. As such, you should consult the relevant electrical code in your area as to whether ground-fault protection is required for outdoor accessories.

In terms of safety, non-GFCI outdoor accessories are not inherently unsafe, however it may be a legal requirement for new installations, and with good reason. Environmental factors make the risk of physical damage and water ingress greater, increasing the danger of electric shock. A GFCI device may reduce the danger posed, but as has been mentioned, you may already have GFCI protection before the outlet itself.

If not, a like-for-like replacement of the outlet with a suitable GFCI version should be a simple job, but be aware they take up more depth in the mounting box. Investigate the existing outlet before purchasing a new product.

Similarly, you may be able to use a power block with a GFCI-protected plug. These are bulky, like you might see on a hairdryer, and would not be suitable for leaving connected, which may be your intention.

If you do purchase a GFCI outlet, be sure it is also weather resistant and consider ingress protection by way of a waterproof mounting box if the existing outlet is not mounted in such, like this: Weather resistant outlet mounting box with in-use cover

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  • It depends on the date the home was built if GFCI protection was required. Today it is required but in years past it was not required. I usually do update outdoor outlets but not always.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented May 13, 2019 at 17:16
  • @EdBeal exactly, that's why I mentioned it's not necessarily that non-GFCI = unsafe but I would also consider an update.
    – Sam_Butler
    Commented May 14, 2019 at 9:53

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