Since “WR” receptacles are required on exterior of residences, can I still install standard receptacles on the load side?

  • 1
    When you say standard do you mean non-gfci, non WR, or both? – NoSparksPlease Dec 11 '20 at 15:53

There are two different issues involved here:

  • GFCI electrical protection required for outdoor receptacles
  • WR physical protection required for outdoor receptacles

The key is that the GFCI can be provided:

  • Breaker - protects entire circuit
  • Outdoor receptacle - protecting just that receptacle
  • Outdoor receptacle - protecting that receptacle and any following receptacles (whether indoor or outdoor)
  • Indoor receptacle - protecting that receptacle and any following receptacles (whether indoor or outdoor)

What is your actual sequence of receptacles, lights or other devices from breaker on out? Even though the "sequence" is technically a "tree", very often you have one string of cables connected (via pigtails or devices) - essentially one long sequence of devices.

There is a big advantage to putting the GFCI protection indoors. While WR will help quite a bit, nothing beats "inside a temperature controlled dry environment".

If this is a new installation (as opposed to replacement/upgrade) then try and plan your wiring so that you have an indoor receptacle prior to the first outdoor receptacle. Fit a GFCI at the last indoor receptacle and wire the outdoor receptacle from the LOAD connections. This will also work if this is a replacement/upgrade situation and there happens to be an indoor receptacle prior to the first outdoor receptacle.

If there are no indoor receptacles then you can either add one - but that would be extra work, use a GFCI breaker (not always an option, depending on the existing breaker panel) or install a WR GFCI receptacle. If you install a WR GFCI receptacle and it is the only receptacle on the circuit that needs protection (i.e., the receptacles following it are indoors and not in laundry room, garage, etc.) then you can use LOAD for the following receptacles or you can pigtail the wires going to the following receptacles to the LINE side. That doesn't provide GFCI protection, which means that a GFCI trip on the outdoor receptacle won't affect the other receptacles.

The one thing you almost always do NOT want to do is to install additional GFCI receptacles in one circuit. That costs more without providing additional protection. Either use standard on LOAD (protected) or standard pigtailed to LINE (not protected, but perfectly code compliant for many locations).

  • I think you may have indirectly answered OP's question, as my read of it is: "do GFI protected outdoor non-GFI receptacles need to be WR?" – Jimmy Fix-it Dec 11 '20 at 4:19

NEC 2020 Code Language:

210.8(A) Dwelling Units. All 125-volt through 250-volt receptacles installed in the locations specified in 210.8(A)(1) through (A)⁠(11) and supplied by single-phase branch circuits rated 150 volts or less to ground shall have ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection for personnel.

It doesn't say how protected. One breaker, dead face device, or receptacle, if properly wired, can protect the whole circuit.

The WR is different, it says:

406.9(B)(1) Receptacles of 15 and 20 Amperes in a Wet Location....(requirements for covers omitted)...All 15- and 20-ampere, 125- and 250-volt nonlocking-type receptacles shall be listed and so identified as the weather-resistant type.

Each receptacle needs to be weather resistant. There is no way an upstream device can provide weather resistance.


WR simply means "Weather Resistant". It's a plain recep that is designed to tolerate being outdoors.

What do you mean "Load side"? Plain receptacles don't have a "Line" and "Load" side. They only have a "Line" side, because plain receptacles don't DO anything. They don't have any function.

Yes, it's true they have 2 screws on each side. However using both screws is functionally the same as pigtailing a single wire to the receptacle. They are just a splice point for convenience, they don't define any "Line" or "Load" functionality.

"Load" means that the device provides a service e.g. ground-fault detection on GFCIs. It has the "Line" side which is not protected, and the "Load" side which is protected.

Except for the below exception, simply hook everything to the "Line" side. GFCIs allow 2 wires to be attached to each "Line" terminal, so just do that.

  • "Load" is for extending GFCI protection to downline locations, and you should never, ever do that unless you actually intend to. That seems like a silly statement, but we have problems every week from people who didn't follow that simple rule. And if you intend to, you MUST label all the downline outlets "GFCI Protected". (which means, obviously, that you must know what you are protecting). If you don't want to sign up for that adventure, then forget "Load".

For instance, if you have a GFCI recep in a bathroom, the shower light needs GFCI protection. You'd power that off the receptacle's "Load". However you don't want the vanity light tripping if the GFCI trips, and it's not required to have GFCI protection, so you'd connect that off "Line".

Using "Load" without knowing what you are doing means you are "accidentally" providing GFCI protection. While that seems like antibiotics ("can't hurt might help"), it actually causes a lot of problems.

  • And in fact due to antibiotic resistant bacteria, throwing antibiotics at "everything" is, just like throwing GFCI at "everything", not a good idea. In both cases: Use it when you need it. Use it when you don't absolutely need it but where the benefit is likely to outweigh the potential problems. But don't use it "everywhere". – manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact Dec 12 '20 at 23:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.