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Old 11-02-2011, 09:43 AM   #1
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Landscape wiring question: GFCI and Breaker Amp

I am wiring the backyard and setup three double ganged outlet boxes.I wanted to have one outlet in each box hot and the other switched. I used 12 gauge 4 wire and set it up with one wire to hot (black), the other switched (red)' a common white and ground. To wire the switched set I used an existing, isolated, three way switch that uses 14 gauge wire between the upstairs switch and the downstairs switch about 15 feet away. So, in the entire run only 12 gauge is used except for a 15 foot run of 14 gauge between the upstairs and downstairs switches.

Also, outside I originally set up two GFCI switches running them from the hot and switched sides of the first outlets in the series of three. Trying to save some money by not buying all GFCI.

The GFCI setup didn't work. Since the ground is common one GFCI switch triggered the other when both were connected. So I isolated one and left the other which is now connected to the black hot wiring and, presumably, the ground wires to all four downstream outlets. The red switched wire does not connect to a GFCI switch.

My outlets are all using weather covers with gaskets and i seal even further with silicone so i don't really want to tear this up once i do it this last time. Wiring to the 14 gauge connected switches are not an issue. I can disconnect completely from a box in the breaker room I setup for this. Or just replace the landscape-connected 15 amp 3-way with a 20 amp switch and control from just that one. This is just a switch replacement. The upstairs 3 way is dead.

Questions are the following.

Does the use of the 14 gauge bit mean my breaker should be 15 amp not 20? Does use of a common white ground mean I would need to set up the hot black breaker connection with a 15 amp as well (although the electrical route does not pass through then red/14 gauge bit). Do I need to use 15 amp outlets for all connected to the 15 amp breaker?

Will using one GFCI trigger too many breaks? Should I give each outlet it's own? What GFCI switch can I use for outside? Some have labels that suggest they cannot be used for this but it is unclear.

If use the 15 amp breaker must I use 15 amp outlets?. I really want to put in 20 to avoid replacement costs if I pull out that 14 gauge bit.

Thank You

Background on my switch challenge. No questions in here just explaining what I was trying to accomplish.

I wanted to be able to turn the lights on and off from the house. At the same time I wanted outlet power that didn't require me to run into the house to switch it on. So I used double gang boxes with two outlets with one I could switch and the other hot. The boxes all have external covers that isolate weather with rubber gasket outlets on the bottom for wiring.

The house already had a double switch wired that was intended to control outside lights but no outside lights were installed. there is one switch on the main floor beside the patio door, another below from the walk out basement patio door. It was originally powered from a feed leading from the main floor outside light and ran into a wire leading from the basement switch to god knows where.

The setup was created as part of the original house. The previous owner then finished part of the basement under the upstairs switch. The main floor switch is set within a large bay window and the wiring runs to the downstairs switch through the finished part of the basement and then laterally until it emerges into the unfinished part where I could see it. The run is through a number of layers of construction both in the finished portion of the basement then under the extended bay area. Frankly I can't see how to rewire or add wire without it becoming a big job (at least for this DIY).

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