I am replacing a front yard light post that has a GFCI outlet attatched. The old post has 12 gauge wire connected from the house thru the post and outlet to the the light. The new post is prewired with 18 gauge wire and also includes a GFCI outlet. Can I connect the old 12 gauge to the new prewired 18 gauge? there is a 20 amp circuit breaker. What is ETL?

  • 1
    Is the 18 gauge wire supplied with and part of the appliance? Is this appliance UL-listed, ETL-listed, CSA listed, or other NRTL with a file number, or does it just have CE, RoHS and/or FCC (which are not testing labs)? Not necessarily a deal breaker but raises more questions. Aug 17, 2019 at 18:49
  • It is ETL listed. It was pre wired. I will have to take it apart to re wire it with 12 gauge. Part of the reason i bought it and paid more was that it was pre wired.
    – user105108
    Aug 17, 2019 at 22:06
  • It is ETL listed. It was pre wired. I will have to take it apart to re wire it with 12 gauge. Part of the reason i bought it and paid more was that it was pre wired. When I say take it apart, I mean remove the outlet and the solar photo detector.
    – user105108
    Aug 17, 2019 at 22:13
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    Then you don't need to do it. ETL approved it that way. This works because very short runs inside equipment cabinets follow different rules. They are allowed to run hotter than 90C (assuming the cabinet is built for this, of course). Aug 17, 2019 at 22:15

4 Answers 4


The fixture is a listed device and manufacturers don’t have the same limitations for the wiring that electrical wiring in your home has. YES you can connect the 12 AWG wire to your light pole fixture. This is exactly the same as almost every light fixtures in your home mfg’s regularly use smaller wires because the load is limited. Note they have a maximum wattage listed for the light(s) when used according to the manufacturers instruction it is safe. So yes this is normal for a fixture.


Yes, that's perfectly fine. The reason is that the appliance is supplied this way, and it is listed by a competent NRTL, meaning that it follows (most likely UL's) rules for internal construction.

The rules inside equipment are different than the rules for in-wall wiring. For instance wiring inside equipment can exceed 90C if its insulation is rated for that, and if that won't damage the appliance. You can bet that part of the ETL testing included throwing 20A of load on that receptacle.

If you saw this in equipment that lacked an NRTL stamp and file number, then you'd want to take a hard look at it, and possibly a hard look at your purchasing practices. Keep in mind that NRTL listing is required for most parts of your mains electrical system (NEC 110.2 requires the local AHJ approve the equipment, and any sane AHJ will defer to the NRTLs.)

Luminaires are not one of them, however a thing can't have a GFCI receptacle and still claim to be a luminaire.

  • Actually, luminaires are required to be listed these days (NEC 410.6) Aug 18, 2019 at 3:56
  • I would be very disappointed if the testing didn't involve throwing substantially more than 20A of load for an extended period (to give themselves a bit of a safety margin). Aug 19, 2019 at 13:11

The GFCI outlet needs to be connected to the #12 wire. If the #18 is a separate run up to the light, then you'd have to pigtail a piece of #12 from the outlet and the #18 to the incoming #12. The #18 wires could be connected to the load side of the GFCI.


NO don't ever mix AWG Wire gauges they are different for a reason and the main reason is amperage. Sure it will work but it's 100% wrong and the #18 gauge wire becomes a fusable link and potential fire hazard. It would be easier to use the #18 wire to pull #12 wire and make it right.

  • 3
    I think maybe you've misunderstood the scenario. Almost any mounted light fixture has smaller wire in its construction than what's run through the walls.
    – isherwood
    Aug 19, 2019 at 15:32

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