I have outside the regular (i.e. non-GFCI) power outlet that you see on the left.

It has a nice double-cover that will keep water out.


I am about to replace it with a GFCI outlet (right of the picture). The GFCI outlet will not accept the receptacle you see on the left, because there is no room for the screw in the center. That space is occupied by the test/reset buttons.

Is there any disadvantage in installing the ordinary plastic cover (bottom right of the picture) to cover a GFCI outlet outdoors? It is vertical and is under a 3ft shed, so it will somewhat be protected from rain.

6 Answers 6


An unmentioned part of the question is the fact that the OP is trying to combine components of two incompatible electrical systems: the newer Decora system, and the older system it replaces (I don't know the name...)

The Decors outlet in question does not lack a central screw hole because of the GFC buttons. Such a central hole is not found on any Decors outlet. It is simply not part of the system design. The screws holding a Decors cover plate engage in the central holes in the tabs that connect the component to the electrical box.

There are Decora style weatherproof cover plates; here is one example: enter image description here

Use one of these with your Decors style outlet

Of course, the concerns expressed by others about the effectiveness of this solution in resisting moisture still apply...


Why play with electricity like that? Install one of these:

For use while connected:

enter image description here

or, for occasional temporary use where it can be closed and unused during wet weather:

enter image description here

  • 10
    According to National Electrical Code, the first cover is required in locations that are uncovered and subject to the weather. The second can be used in locations that are outdoors, but covered and protected from the weather. In no situation can the simple faceplate from the question be used outdoors.
    – Tester101
    Commented Jul 17, 2016 at 19:50
  • @Tester101 My main confusion when asking was the one addressed by DJohnM (old vs. new styles of cover). This answer is weak because it doesn't clarify when the full face cover is mandated. That is only clear from your comment. Since this is a matter of life or death question, you'd ideally provide a reference and post a separate comprehensive answer that summarizes the two (otherwise orthogonal) issues.
    – Calaf
    Commented Nov 5, 2017 at 16:14

The main disadvantage is that your simple cover is not to code in most jurisdictions. In addition, gfci outlets aren't really designed to get splashed, so don't be surprised if it fails prematurely. (I know you said overhang, but rain can be carried by high winds.)

I'd spend the 10 bucks and get a nice in-use cover. (The type that allows you to have something plugged in while also protecting from weather. There are some that accordion down if you don't like the look of the big ones.)


In my experience, most listed covers do a lousy job actually preventing water ingress. This is common; actual practice in electrical work is to use listed products which then proceed to leak anyway. I see remote powerboards all the time with top entry and water getting into every single thing water is not supposed to get into, lots of breaker and GFCI trips, etc.

I consider "expecting actual watertightness from a listed product" to be a lost cause.

I myself use birdhouse-tier carpentry skills to build a little "phone box" style enclosure to genuinely keep the rain out. And as a bonus, dinghy-tier boatbuilding skills to make it watertight: West System epoxy, good marine primer, don't spare the silicone, etc.

That's over top of the listed products; you still have to follow Code.

  • 1
    Yeah, part of the problem is even if the thing is hermetically sealed, it has to be perfectly dry inside or you can still wind up with liquid water in it due to condensation...but yes -- that doesn't sound pretty. Commented Jul 17, 2016 at 23:47

Must outdoor GFCI power outlets be covered? YES

You get an Appropriate cover. They are available and come in many styles depending on the Weatherproof Box you have installed the outlet in. This thing is designed to save you from electrical shock. WHY do you want to defeat its safety features? You do not like the appearance of the cover?


Yes, it should be covered. However, you might want to check the circuit breaker that feeds the line. If the old outlet was just a regular socket, it is quite possible that the line is on a GFCI circuit breaker. If that is the case, you can simply replace the old outlet with a new one of the same type, and re-use your old cover. In this case, the GFCI protection will be implemented by the breaker instead of inside the outlet.

  • Very interesting. In my main board, all breakers look the same. Nothing is different on the two that lead to the front and the back of the house. Does that mean that GFCI is absent?
    – Calaf
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 0:33
  • 1
    Breakers are probably not GFCI. However, it's pretty easy to cut into the line just before it exits the house and install an interior box w/ a GFCI in it, thus protecting the entire remote circuit. Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 14:13

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