I need to install a new electrical outlet in the bathroom, that would connect to the vanity as well as a new bidet in the future. I have two sources for this:

  1. Vanity light fixture, that's connected to a switch on the opposite wall.
  2. GFCI outlet that's on the right corner.

I have a couple of questions:

  • Which one of these options would be better? The Vanity light fixture is right above and I can easily fish out the wire, compared to the GFCI.
  • If I go with the light fixture, the outlet might not work when the light switch is off, which is okay. But I understand there is a way to make it work independently.
  • Does the new outlet need to be another GFCI? I was thinking of a basic tamper-proof receptacle.

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  • 3
    Outlets in bathrooms need to be GFCI protected. Lights unless in/near the shower might not be.
    – crip659
    Commented Apr 2 at 18:21

2 Answers 2


Assuming that your light is not currently GFCI protected, your best choice is to chain off the load (i.e., GFCI-protected) terminals on the existing GFCI receptacle. That will allow you to use an ordinary (not GFCI) receptacle. In addition, it means the receptacle will not be controlled by the light switch.

Depending on how your light fixture is currently wired, you might have unswitched hot available at the fixture. If so, then you could pull power from there as well. However, unless it is already GFCI-protected upstream, you will need to install a GFCI/receptacle rather than a plain receptacle.

Bathroom receptacle circuits are normally required by code to be 20A circuits. Older bathrooms may have legitimate 15A circuits. The circuit size is defined by the breaker size, but must not exceed the capability of the wiring. 14 AWG wiring is only suitable for 15A circuits. 12 AWG wiring is fine for 15A or 20A circuits. If the circuit is 20A with 12 AWG wiring then any extensions/modifications must also use 12 AWG wiring. If the circuit is 15A then it can have 14 AWG or a mix of 12 AWG and 14 AWG wiring.

  • 1
    Thanks for the detailed explanation. I tested it today and the light fixture is not GFCI-protected. I noticed that both bathrooms are connected to the same 20A breaker. So now I plan to wire it from the existing GFCI outlet - using 12/2 Romex and an ordinary TR receptacle. That should work fine, right? Anything else I need to consider?
    – bsong
    Commented Apr 6 at 19:19
  • 1
    Updated to clarify. Assuming it is a modern 20A circuit you must stick with 12 AWG wiring. A GFCI/receptacle only protects from ground faults, it does not protect from overcurrent - that is done by the breaker. The confusion comes about because, as allowed by code, you can have 15A receptacles on a 20A circuit - but that doesn't change the wiring. I have, many times, provided examples of why you can't downsize to 14 AWG, but suffice it to say: Playing with fire, so don't do it! (Aside from violating code.) Commented Apr 7 at 1:09
  • 1
    15A GFCI on 20A breaker is perfectly fine. But it must have 12 AWG wires - both "line" (in) and "load" (out). White 12 AWG Romex was normal until ~ 2001 See diy.stackexchange.com/questions/204883/… for details. Your wires on screws are poorly done. Looks like the GFCI has screw-to-clamp - if so you straighten the wires, probably trim them a bit and put under the clamp under the screw - no curve and easier to do. Commented Apr 7 at 1:47
  • 1
    One key rule involved is that a 20A circuit can have both 20A and 15A receptacles. If the only receptacles on a 20A circuit are 15A receptacles then there need to be at least 2 receptacles - but the standard (GFCI or not) is a duplex receptacle anyway, so effectively the rule is 15A or 20A "whatever" on a 20A circuit. Sticking with 15A receptacles means you (the electrician, builder, etc.) don't have to have 15A receptacles for 15A circuits and also 20A receptacles for 20A circuits - fewer parts stock saves $. Commented Apr 7 at 2:21
  • 1
    Noted, this is very helpful. Thanks! I had a follow-up - but posted it as a new question - diy.stackexchange.com/q/297681/185963
    – bsong
    Commented Apr 7 at 20:17

Not having details showing cabinet locations make this a little hard, but I think you are stuck between a hard place and a rock. I suspect you need to find another circuit. Existing installations that were installed to code are legal if the code changes until the circuit is modified. Modifications need to meet current code, which now says:

210.11(C)(3) Bathroom Branch Circuits. In addition to the number of branch circuits required by other parts of this section, one or more 120-volt, 20-ampere branch circuit shall be provided to supply bathroom(s) receptacle outlet(s) required by 210.52(D) and any countertop and similar work surface receptacle outlets. Such circuits shall have no other outlets. Exception: Where the 20-ampere circuit supplies a single bathroom, outlets for other equipment within the same bathroom shall be permitted to be supplied in accordance with 210.23(B)(1) and (B)(2).

Note the wording "shall have no other outlets". By code definition outlets includes hard wired connection like lights and fans. Your ability to satisfy this code section needs to be part of the decision about "if" to renovate.

  • I'll need a little help understanding this code. I'm in GA btw. Now if you notice the drain pipe + the plumbing- the vanity is gonna be installed there. The existing GFCI outlet would be right above the countertop. The new one I'm planning to connect would be on the left (in between the toilet and the countertop) - about 16" from the floor.
    – bsong
    Commented Apr 7 at 4:33
  • The existing GFCI is 15A but it's on a 20A breaker. The other bathroom, which is right behind the wall - has another GFCI that's protected by this GFCI. i.e. the Line connects to this GFCI and the load powers the other bathroom GFCI. I hope that this provides some context. Now if the code doesn't allow for another outlet .. What are my options at this point?
    – bsong
    Commented Apr 7 at 4:34
  • Also, found this thread - diy.stackexchange.com/a/170443/185963.
    – bsong
    Commented Apr 7 at 4:54
  • It appears GA is still on the 2020 NEC, which is the addition that introduced the current "work surface" language. The Code is written by a private company, and only becomes law when adopted by the authority having local jurisdiction, The paragraph I quoted has been subject to regular changes,, 1993,1996, 1996,, 1999, 2002, and 2020. Commented Apr 7 at 7:38
  • I stand by my position that adding new receptacles needs to meet current Code which would require adding another circuit to feed the bidet receptacle outlets. Commented Apr 7 at 7:47

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