Do Outdoor Lights Need to Be on Their Own Circuit?

GFCI outlet for outdoor lights

“Do outdoor lights need to be on their own circuit?” If that’s what you are wondering, you have reached the right place. Let’s cut to the chase; the final answer is no! Let us first go through the basics of the circuit.
GFCI or ground fault circuit interrupters are nifty devices designed to sever electrical circuits if they sense an imbalance, thus protecting people from electrocution. According to section 210.8 of the National Electric Code, all outdoor receptacles must be protected by GFCI. So if your home or commercial lighting has missed out on this crucial feature, contact a reputed outdoor lighting company to get it.
Lighting the exterior of your home is much more complicated than the interior. Outdoor lights are exposed to all sorts of crazy weather conditions like rains, storms, and snowfall. That’s when GFCI for outdoor outlets comes to use to protect you from electrocution, as water mixed with electricity is a dangerous combination.
Since it is all about safety, many electrical systems require GFCIs. They continually monitor electric flow, and if they detect any abnormalities, they automatically trip and de-energize the circuit. This is why they are primarily installed in places where water can potentially come in contact with electricity, like bathrooms and kitchens.
GFCIs are a recent development that has only gained popularity since 1971. Initially, the law mandated that they must be installed at the exterior of the house and by the swimming pool. But with recent developments, the law states that it must be installed within six feet of all plumbing fixtures both inside and outside the house. This means that they have to be installed at the following locations:

  1. Bathroom: All receptacles must be protected by GFCIs
  2. Sinks: Receptacles within 6ft of bar sinks must be protected
  3. Kitchens: Receptacles serving kitchen countertop surfaces must be protected by GFCIs
  4. Crawl Spaces and Basements: GFCIs outlet for outdoors must be installed in the basement and crawl spaces which are not habitable but used for storage purposes.
  5. Swimming pools: Protection is required for all luminaries, circulation, sanitation equipment, and pump motor receptacles within 20ft of the swimming pool.
  6. Temporary wiring systems: Everything must be GFCI protected
  7. Outdoors: All receptacles outside the dwelling unit must be protected, including the eaves of the roofs. The only exception is that of de-icing equipment.
    One receptacle is also required on each deck, porch, patio, or balcony. But does this mean that all outdoor devices have their own circuit? No, there is no requirement for GFCI at every location as long as the total is less than the GFCI’s capacity. It does not matter how many receptacles are connected.
    Most of them are enabled to protect up to 20 amps, and this can be drawn by as many receptacles as needed.

Indeed, there are benefits of putting outdoor lights on individual GFCIs because if one trips, the others will work, and the exterior of your whole house will not be plunged into darkness. This can be problematic if you come late from work or want to relax on your patio.

So, Do Outdoor Lights Need to Be on Their Own Circuit?

Hope this blog answered this question. Homeowners should avoid doing electrical work on their own and call in professionals, as it is crucial to be extremely careful in such scenarios. Outdoor GFCIs must have special covers depending on where they are located. All outdoor receptacles must be weather-resistant. All metal boxes should be adequacalltoy grounded. Outdoor lighting installers can do this for you with their expert knowledge of GFCIS. They should be covered for protection if they are used in wet locations. This will protect it from moisture even when in use.
These are the basics of outdoor electrical outlet code, and just in case you need help, feel free to reach out to professionals!