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Old 05-17-2010, 01:17 PM   #1
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GFCI question - what is protected here?


Hi there,

I am reconfiguring some existing wiring in my unfinished basement. I would like this circuit to power two sets of fluorescent shop lights and a couple of outlets. The outlets will be constant, but the lights will be switched on/off by a 1-pole switch at the top of the stairs.

If the power runs from the box to a GFCI outlet first, followed by a "normal" second outlet and then the shop lights, will everything downstream of that GFCI be protected? What about the switch?

Thank you!
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Old 05-17-2010, 01:21 PM   #2
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Most GFCI recepticals have two sets of terminals labeled "Line" and "Load". You connect the wire from the breaker to the "Line" side. Anything you want protected down stream by the GFCI, you connect to the "Load side". Anything you don't want protected, you connect to the 2nd set of "Line" terminals. (There should also be two sets of Load terminals).

So if you want, and local codes allow, you can run the main power to the "Line" side of the GFCI, all the other outlets connected to the "Load" side, and connect the switch to the "Line" side as well. Then all the outlets will be protected by the GFCI, but if the GFCI trips, you're not in the dark.
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Old 05-17-2010, 01:28 PM   #3
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Thank you so much for the quick response.

Is there any reason that the switch/lights should not be connected to the load side (protected), with the exception of not being left in the dark after a tripped circuit? Am I being too cautious?

I assume you are suggesting that I connect whatever I don't want protected to the second set of line terminals, correct?

Thanks again, very helpful
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Old 05-17-2010, 01:44 PM   #4
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Being left in the dark is the only reason I know of not to protect the lights. Anything you do not want to protect can connect to the second set of LINE terminals, yes. You can also pigtail off the wire that is connected to the LINE/LOAD side to unprotect it/protect it.

There's no reason I can see to protect lights, unless specifically dictated on the instructions (some shower & outdoor lights, etc)
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Old 05-17-2010, 01:49 PM   #5
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Generally speaking, the purpose for a GFCI is to protect you from getting electricuted around water. So any locations that tend to have water around (kitchen, bathrooms, pools, outdoor outlets) require GFCI to prevent shock when the electricity suddenly finds an alternate path through water. Basements are included in the GFCI requirement because of the likelyhood of being flooded after a rain or because they are more likely to be a place an outdoor extension cord will be plugged in, etc).

Now generally speaking, there isn't much of a danger of you being electricuted by an over-head light fixture. The fixture is generally going to be either out of reach or something you're not generally going to be reaching for, except when changing light bulbs. Even then, you're likely to have turned the light switch off before changing the lights. That pretty much limits your danger to being electricuted from over-head lights to flipping the switch with wet hands.
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Old 05-17-2010, 01:58 PM   #6
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Excellent information, y'all. Thank you very much!
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Old 05-17-2010, 03:11 PM   #7
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All of my basement lights are within easy reach
And my bathroom lights are also within reach
I think all of my outside lights require a small step ladder at the least
2 old kitchen lights were within reach, one was directly over the sink

So there are some locations that I might GFCI to avoid problems
Code is the Min required to pass Inspection



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Old 05-17-2010, 03:56 PM   #8
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You are supposed to have a switch at the top and the bottom. Not sure of the code number off the top of my head, but more than 3(??I think) stairs and you are required to install a switch at the top and bottom.
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Old 05-17-2010, 04:15 PM   #9
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Seems every unfinished basement I have been in only has a switch at the top?
I only have single pole too, I'll need 3-ways once the garage door goes in

The lights for my stairs is controlled by one switch
Basement lights are controlled by 2 other switches
I also have the lights & outlets on different circuits



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Old 05-17-2010, 04:29 PM   #10
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I believe the code references you might be looking for is 210.70(A)(2)(c).

"Where one or more lighting outlet(s) are installed for interior stairways, there shall be a wall switch at each floor level, and landing level that INCLUDES AN ENTRYWAY, to control the lighting outlet(s) where the stairway between floor levels has six risers or more."

So if the basement is basically a dead-end (not a daylight basement with a regular doorway to outside) then code would seem to allow only a light switch at the top of the stairs.
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Old 05-17-2010, 05:12 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
I believe the code references you might be looking for is 210.70(A)(2)(c).

"Where one or more lighting outlet(s) are installed for interior stairways, there shall be a wall switch at each floor level, and landing level that INCLUDES AN ENTRYWAY, to control the lighting outlet(s) where the stairway between floor levels has six risers or more."

So if the basement is basically a dead-end (not a daylight basement with a regular doorway to outside) then code would seem to allow only a light switch at the top of the stairs.
That's the one. It doesn't seem to qualify what an "entryway" is in that particular paragraph. In the one before, regarding exterior exit lighting, it specifies what an outdoor entrance is or isn't. In this case it seems that they could be referring to a bulkhead or even meaning if there is access to the stairway. I think I will question my local inspector on this one, because that has never come up as an out. Not that I would actually omit it.
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Old 05-17-2010, 06:24 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sparky8370 View Post
... In this case it seems that they could be referring to a bulkhead or even meaning if there is access to the stairway.......
Well, I found this on an inspectors online checklist.

Quote:
Hallways and stairways have at least one wall switch-controlled lighting outlet. Where one or more lighting outlet is
installed for interior stairways, there is a wall switch at each floor level and landing level that includes an entryway to
control the lighting outlet where the stairway between floor levels has six or more risers NEC 210.70 (1)(a)&(c).
So it would appear that he is interpetting as my previous example I quoted. Counting entryway as an entryway to the stairs. Otherwise, it would not be required on any level above or below ground level.
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