I'm considering installing an exhaust fan in my bathroom which includes light and heat, and requires a dedicated 20 amp circuit. Would this circuit need GFCI protection? The instructions for the unit don't say anything about it. Even if it's not required, would it be a good idea to do anyway?
The National Electrical Code (NEC) does not require bathroom exhaust fans to be GFCI protected, however, there is this bit in Article 110.
110.3 Examination, Identification, Installation, and Use of Equipment.
(B) Installation and Use. Listed or labeled equipment shall be installed and used in accordance with any instructions included in the listing or labeling.
Which means you have to follow all of the manufacturers instructions while installing the fan. If you read the installation instructions that came with the fan, you might find something like this.
SUITABLE FOR USE OVER TUB OR SHOWER ENCLOSURE WHEN INSTALLED IN A GFCI PROTECTED BRANCH CIRCUIT.
If you install this fan over a tub or shower, the fan must be GFCI protected according to the manufacturer.
needing would depend on your local codes and whether the device has a build-in GFCI breaker
though if the fan needs a ground you probably should add one
however it can't hurt adding one given that a GCFI breaker doesn't cost much
No. GFCI protection is only needed for outlets.