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I want to update the wiring in my laundry room but get confused about the requirements for this designated circuit. As I understand, Arc Fault protection breakers (AFCI) are now required for laundry rooms as well. Since dual function AFCI and Ground Fault breakers (DFCI) are the same price as sole AFCI breakers, I wanted to install a 20 Amp dual function breaker, running to a 20 Amp outlet for the washing machine.

Does this outlet have to be a GFCI protected or is the breaker enough?

The second question is if it is possible to have a second outlet on this circuit within the laundry room for general purpose, and if yes if this has to be another 20Amp outlet or if this can be a 15Amp outlet?

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    Usually want one point of protection, breaker or outlet/receptacle.
    – crip659
    Commented Jan 24, 2023 at 19:05

4 Answers 4

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The laundry room can be served by any number of circuits.

However, at least ONE of the circuits must be a 120V/20A circuit that serves only receptacles in the laundry room. Any number of receptacles is fine.

However, all circuits which do so must (as of NEC 2014) be AFCI-protected at the circuit breaker. Protecting at the first receptacle is not possible unless there's metal conduit from the panel or it is buried in 2" of concrete.

They must also (as of 2014) must be functionally GFCI-protected. Thanks to the magic of the LOAD terminals, this protecting GFCI can be located anywhere. However, if LOAD magic is used, "GFCI Protected" stickers must also be used. This is a deal-breaker for a lot of people.

So you have the option of at least 3 configurations.

  • AFCI+GFCI breaker at the panel. "GFCI Protected" stickers on all outlets.
  • AFCI breaker at the panel. GFCI receptacles at all outlets. No use of LOAD terminals.
  • AFCI breaker at the panel. GFCI receptacle at first outlet, others fed from the LOAD terminals and stickered.

The stickers do not need to be blue and flimsy. You can buy or make better ones, as long as they are not hand written. If you do, you might also state where the reset is located.

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    Thank you for the clarification! The breaker I bought for other rooms came with acceptable stickers so I will be using them.
    – Trojan
    Commented Jan 24, 2023 at 19:42
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Eaton publishes a handy guide for this. There's a matrix on Page 5 that gives you the requirements per location and by code cycle. For laundry your 115V circuits need to be dual AF/GF on 2014 code and up. Starting with the 2020 code the 230V circuits also need to be GFCI.

The 115V laundry circuit is a laundry room only circuit. Code reference below. If you want an additional 20A circuit it won't count separately from the square footage against your load calculation, so it's 'free' for load calculation purposes. There's no prohibition on extending the circuit from an adjacent room either, if that makes things easier, so you can have a dedicated laundry room circuit and an additional circuit in the room. Having a second circuit is super handy in case you want to use an iron while the washer is running without risking popping the breaker.

210.11(C)(2) In addition to the number of branch circuits required by other parts of this section, at least one additional 20-ampere branch circuit shall be provided to supply the laundry receptacle outlet(s) required by 210.52(F). This circuit shall have no other outlets.

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  • Thank you for the clarification that I cannot have another outlet on the circuit!
    – Trojan
    Commented Jan 24, 2023 at 19:11
  • "outlet(s)" would seem to suggest that there may be more than one
    – user28910
    Commented Jan 24, 2023 at 19:16
  • @user28910 That is true, "This circuit shall have no other outlets." would then refer to outlets outside the laundry room?
    – Trojan
    Commented Jan 24, 2023 at 19:41
  • For sure it's laundry room only. I've seen it interpreted both ways regarding how many outlets to put on it, but 210.52(F) seems to allow several outlets if you want. I think I'll revise my answer, as I had it in my head the other way.
    – KMJ
    Commented Jan 24, 2023 at 21:35
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As far as the question of "if this outlet has to be a GFCI protected outlet or if the breaker is enough?", that is always no. GFCI protection can always be provided at any of:

  • The breaker. Not always an option, depending on your panel, but protects 100% of the circuit with no issues of "line vs. load". This is however the only option I am aware of for 240V circuits.
  • A receptacle. Can protect that receptacle and optionally (via "load") all subsequent receptacles. If this the first receptacle in a circuit and you use "load" to feed all other receptacles then this is functionally the same as GFCI at the breaker.
  • A deadfront, such as this Leviton from Home Depot:

Leviton GFCI

This usually doesn't make sense, as a breaker is simpler and a receptacle just as functional. But it is useful if (a) you want to use the GFCI TEST/RESET as a switch and/or (b) to provide GFCI protection for a hardwired device such as a light above a shower where you can't put the GFCI at the device and a breaker would cost more (and the switch could be useful too, depending on where you install it.)

Installing a GFCI breaker and a GFCI receptacle will really trip you up.

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First question:

No, you do not need an additional GFCI outlet if you have a GFCI breaker. A GFCI breaker has (more-or-less) the same internal guts as a GFCI outlet, and it provides GFCI protection for the entire circuit. (If you're familiar with using the LOAD terminals on a GFCI outlet, that's pretty much what the breaker gives you.)

It's certainly possible to dasiy-chain as many GFCI devices as you want, but it provides zero benefit, wastes money, and requires you to reset everything in a very specific order to restore power after a trip.

Second question:

I can't quote the exact section from the NEC, but from reading other questions on this site, 15A receptacles are internally rated to handle 20A wiring, they're just not rated for 20A plugs. So there is nothing wrong with adding an additional 15A receptacle on this circuit. However, as KMJ pointed out, the laundry room receptacle is required to be the only outlet on that circuit, so in this case you cannot add any other outlets.

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  • I was slightly off and did revise - the laundry circuit has to be laundry room only, but you can do multiple outlets. I still think dedicating one circuit to the washer only is a good idea.
    – KMJ
    Commented Jan 24, 2023 at 21:40

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