NEC Requirements for Outdoor Receptacles

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Several NEC requirements apply to outdoor receptacles.
Several NEC requirements apply to outdoor receptacles. (Image: electrical, image by Greg Pickens from Fotolia.com)

Since 2005, the National Electric Code (NEC) has required outdoor receptacles on newly constructed houses. The NEC also includes set requirements governing the installation of outdoor electrical receptacles. Its requirements deal with their location and their adequate weather protection.

Number and Location

According to the NEC, each newly constructed home must have at least two outdoor receptacles. The receptacles are to be located in the front and in the rear of the house. The placement of the receptacles should be no more than 6 1/2 feet from the ground.

Balconies, Decks and Porches

A requirement added to the NEC in 2008 states that balconies, decks and porches that can be accessed from inside need to have a minimum of one receptacle outlet placed within the perimeter of the outdoor structure. This addition also states that the receptacle must not be more than 6 1/2 feet above the outdoor structure’s surface. The code, however, provides an exception to this requirement. Balconies, decks and porches that have a usable area under 20 square feet do not have to have an outdoor receptacle.

Weather Protection

In order to prevent moisture from getting inside an outdoor receptacle's enclosure, the receptacle's faceplate must rest securely on a supporting surface. In instances when a receptacle is installed on an uneven surface, filler material can be used in the gaps.

A weatherproof enclosure must be in place on all 15- and 20-amp, 120/240-volt outdoor receptacles. A while-in-use cover also must be utilized.

GFCI Protection

All outdoor receptacles are required to have ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection in place. A rare exception exists, however, when a receptacle is supplied via a dedicated branch circuit, is not readily accessible and ground-fault protection is provided for the equipment or receptacle.

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