I would like to add a plug outside where each plug would be independently switched. The use of this is to be able to switch a rope light and a fan separately. This is being added to a new breaker so can be treated independent of everything else.

I know how to do this with a standard outlet, but the GFCI aspect is throwing me for a loop.

The best option I have been able to come up with is to buy a GFCI with a blank face and put it in-line before the switches. Is this the best way to handle this? If so, my follow up question is where to place the GFCI box? Is there any issue with placing it in the attic, or does it need easily accessible?

There are no local codes to follow, but I would like to follow all common codes.

  • From what I can tell, you should follow 2011 National Electrical Code.
    – Tester101
    Jun 10 '13 at 11:40
  • Do you have anything in place now (any wiring, plugs, etc -- please describe) or is this all new?
    – gregmac
    Jun 10 '13 at 17:55

If this is new, I would do this:

  1. Run a wire from the panel to a GFCI outlet in your garage (or wherever -- it may even be in the same box as the switches).
    • Optionally, you could just use a GFCI breaker for this circuit but these are over $100 more than regular breakers, whereas a GFCI outlet is easily less than $20 in parts
  2. From the LOAD terminals on the GFCI outlet, run power to your switches.
  3. From here, run everything as you normally would: switch hot for each outlet, and run the switched hot, neutral and ground to each switch.

I'd want the GFCI somewhere easily accessible in case it trips. You can install a GFCI near the switch, or even in the same junction box so that a tripped GFCI will be right there next to your switches.

Or you can install a weather proof 2 gang box outside with the following steps, which leaves you with an extra unswitched GFCI outside.

  1. One side would be the unswitched GFCI. Connect the line to your power source.
  2. To the hot load connect the black wire of a 12/3 (white, black, red + ground).
  3. Run that line to your switch junction box where you connect the black to a wire nut and two black wires that go to each switch. To one switch, you attach the white (with black tape to indicate the wire is a switched hot). And to the other switch you attach the red.
  4. Back in the outlet junction box, break the tab on the switched outlet so they're independent. To one hot attach the white wire (with black tape on this end too) that's coming from the switch. On the other hot, connect your red.
  5. And for the neutral, run a white wire to the GFCI load connection to your outlet.

Replace the circuit breaker in your service panel with a GFCI circuit breaker. Then everything else downstream becomes much easier.

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