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I have installed a covered patio and would like to add lights and a couple of outlets. The current set up is a breaker out there that was set up for a potential AC hookup; it is fed by a 10gauge wire with black and white both having a load of 120V from the main breaker box, which has a 30Amp Double breaker.

My plan is to get rid of the breaker, and use the 10 gauge wire as a regular 10/2 to feed all my electrical needs out there. On the main breaker I would switch out the 30 Amp double breaker for a regular 20 Amp single breaker.

Outside, I would then continue with 12/2 wire that feeds a GFCI outlet, then another GFCI outlet, then a couple of switches. One would go to a regular outlet to feed string lights (or i could just hard-wire the lights) and the other would feed a chandelier.

Main questions:

1; is it ok to go from 10/2 to 12/2 to feed everything?

2; can I install a regular (not a AFCI) breaker for everything since I will use GFCI outlets?

3; can I go from a GFCI outlet to lights without problems?

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The fact that you want to connect a GFCI recep downline of another GFCI recep, and you have concerns about feeding a light from a GFCI recep, suggests to me you are unfamiliar with how GFCI "Downline Protection" works.

A GFCI is a device, not a receptacle. You've been buying combo devices that provide both. A GFCI device is perfectly capable of protecting anything wired downstream of it (i.e. fed from it). The GFCI receptacle protects its own sockets, obviously... however it can also protect downstream loads.

You choose that protection (or not) by placing the hot and neutral wires on the GFCI's "Load" terminals (or not).

"But what else would I do?"

If you don't want the downstream to have GFCI protection, stick its hot and neutral on the "Line" terminals also. (they take 2).

Details:

It's true, traditional receptacles have 2 screws on each side, and they are hardwired to each other (if you don't break off the tabs, that is). They were intended to be used as a convenient splicing device - supply on one screw, downstream on the other screw, easy peasy.

Somebody does that a lot, then they meet a GFCI. Two screws on each side, supply gets one, downstream gets the other, just another convenient splicing device, right? Why do they even waste money putting tape on two of them? Does it have writing on it? I didn't look. Actually, those screws have totally different functions. The "Line" screw is meant to be both supply and onward connection - it has a feature that lets it take 2 wires.

The "Load" screw is specifically reserved for protecting downstream loads that you want to give GFCI protection to. It should never be used for anything else.

In fact it is illegal to simply throw all downstream wires onto it. Why? Because that would result in plain outlets being GFCI protected, and that's fine but they must be labeled with a "GFCI Protected" sticker or it's a Code violation. You would also be doing yourself a favor to make your own labels that also state where the reset is to be found.

So you should make careful choices with each hot/neutral pair you add.

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  • Thank you for the explanation, it was really helpful. I had a pretty good idea on GFCI, but was confused since all our outdoor outlets are GFCIs. So I thought by code they all had to be. I have an electrician come out tomorrow to double check my plans and then hopefully will get it all taken care of. On a side note. There are 2 outlets on the backside of our kitchen island, one is a GFCI and another is a regular one down line. It is not labeled as GFCI protected, at least not on the outside... – Marc Mar 1 at 19:49
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The breaker swap makes this work

Since you're going from a 240V-only circuit fed by a two-pole breaker to a 120V-only circuit fed by a single pole breaker, and downbreakering from 30A to 20A, your plan to continue the circuit with 12/2 to GFCI receptacles and ordinary lighting on the patio is fine. Since these are outdoor outlets, you won't need an AFCI breaker to protect them; however, I suspect you'll want to use a "blank face" or "deadfront" GFCI for the chandelier, with the switch wired "downstream" of the GFCI, so that you can't plug something into that GFCI that trips it, knocking power to the chandelier out in the process. (A regular GFCI receptacle is fine for the GFCI feeding the string lights, though.)

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  • Thank you for the explanation. I am having an electrician come out and take a look, but I think overall I have a pretty good understanding on how it works and what I need to take into consideration. I don't mind the chandelier tripping in case the GFCI trips. I only anticipate using the outlets for charging phones or a TV. – Marc Feb 27 at 22:24
  • Thank you for your answer. I assume I would have to bypass the original GFCI then in order to install the blank face down stream. that way it can trip on its own but won't be tripped if the original GFCI gets tripped, correct? – Marc Mar 1 at 19:43
  • @Marc -- yeah, the feed to the blank face + chandelier + switch would be off the LINE side of the other GFCI – ThreePhaseEel Mar 1 at 23:35

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