I am going to attempt to make this as clear as possible.

In my bathroom, there is a switch that directly controls only the bathroom ventilation fan. I would like to add a recessed light over the shower by adding it to the circuit that the recessed fan is on, so the connection would be switch->vent fan->shower recessed light.

Does this connection need to be GFCI protected, and if so how would I do that because there isn't an outlet in this circuit? Would the only option be a dead-front GFI?

Thanks in advance! Dan

  • 1
    Is the light directly above the tub/shower? What do the manufacturer's installation instructions for the light say?
    – Tester101
    Apr 27, 2016 at 18:22
  • I am installing a new light. There is no current light above the shower; I am planning to put one in. The only currently installed item is the ventilation fan. And yes the light will be directly above the shower. I haven't bought the recessed light yet, so I don't have manufacturer instructions; I was more just trying to get an idea of what to expect. I do understand that a majority of it depends on the manufacturer's instructions. Apr 27, 2016 at 18:30
  • This answer might be worth reading, regarding what type of fixture to install.
    – Tester101
    Apr 27, 2016 at 20:10
  • Awesome I appreciate the help! Apr 27, 2016 at 21:54

3 Answers 3


You need a fixture listed for wet locations: from the NEC. Bathtub and shower areas. Luminaries located within the actual outside dimension of the bathtub or shower to a height of 8' vertically from the top of the bathtub or threshold of the shower shall be marked for damp locations or for wet locations were subject to shower spray. NEC 410.10.D. Since in a shower you will need a "wet location" fixture. Many call the main type of fixture used a "jelly jar" because it looks like a jar that is screwed into a fixture. There are many types that look better depending on what you want to spend.


From the 2014 NEC:

210.8 (A) Dwelling Units. All 125-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-ampere receptacles installed in the locations specified in 210.8(A)(1) through (8) shall have ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection for personnel.

(1) Bathrooms

There is no requirement in the code for bathroom lights or exhaust fans to be GFCI protected.

Sounds like you have a plan for the wiring.

Good luck!

  • Thanks for the help. Would you recommend 14-2 Nm or 12-2 Nm for the wiring? Apr 27, 2016 at 23:15
  • It depends on the circuit breaker size. A 20 amp breaker requires #12 and a 15 amp requires #14. Most lighting is done with #14 but someone could have upsized the circuit or tapped off of the 20 amp bathroom receptacle circuit.
    – ArchonOSX
    Apr 27, 2016 at 23:55

It should be GCFI-protected. I don't know if there's a GCFI switch, I've never seen one. But if you figure out a place to put a dead-front GCFI, you might as well put an outlet there.

I believe even "wet"-rated fans and lights need to be GCFI-protected; all the descriptions I've seen say "ok over tub or shower if GCFI-protected". Maybe there's a type of "wet"-rated unit that doesn't need GCFI (it's built-in ?) but I've never seen one.

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