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I would like to extend a standard electrical circuit to the outside with a GFCI outlet. Can I install a GFCI downstream? This would be easier than running a new circuit back to the breaker panel.

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Yes you can certainly do this. Other options include replacing any outlet upstream with a GFCI, or replacing the breaker with a GFCI breaker. In both these cases, the entire circuit would be protected.

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  • One thing to look out for is a shared neutral; you can use a GFCI with a shared neutral, but you can't protect downstream outlets unless they have a dedicated neutral from the point of the GFCI onward. – TomG Apr 23 '13 at 2:15
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    My understanding is that GFCI's only protect downstream, not upstream. – DA01 Apr 23 '13 at 5:45
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    GFCI receptacles only protect devices connected to the LOAD side terminals. If the receptacle is installed incorrectly, downstream devices can be left unprotected. GFCI devices do not protect upstream devices, they only protect the circuit connected to the LOAD side terminals. – Tester101 Apr 23 '13 at 12:12

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