Are GFCI Outlets Required In Bathrooms [Explained]

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There is much debate regarding the necessity of GFCI outlets in bathrooms. Some people believe that they are necessary for safety reasons.

Many argue that GFCI outlets are not required for bathrooms because they are not wet locations. Some say bathrooms contain water, even if it is not used frequently; GFCI outlets are a smart idea.

However, are GFCI outlets required in a bathroom? Short answer: Yes. According to the law, all bathrooms should have at least one GFCI-protected outlet. So that it will protect your bathroom from unwanted electrical hazards.

What is GFCI outlet?

A GFCI outlet is an electrical outlet designed to protect people from electric shock by detecting any unusual current flow and quickly shutting off the power. It can prevent high power electrical surges.

You should use good-rated GFCI outlets in many areas of your home, including bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, garages, and outdoors. It is also good to install these receptacles within 4-6 feet of a sink or other water source.

Are GFCI outlets required in bathrooms?

Generally, you should use a GFCI in a bathroom. But it is not mandatory because GFCI requirements may vary from state to state. If you are uncertain about the building code requirements in your state, you should contact your local building department.

According to the National Electric Code (NEC) in the United States, GFCI outlets are required in bathrooms, kitchens, and outdoor areas where water may be present.

Additionally, installing GFCI outlets in your bathroom can reduce the risk of electrocution. You may experience an electrical shock if you contact with an energized circuit.

When a GFCI outlet detects a ground fault, it instantly cuts off the power to the circuit. Having this protection can give you and your family a sense of security.

GFCI outlets required in bathrooms

Check Local Regulations Regarding GFCIs

You should your local municipality or regulatory organization for specific information regarding your region’s regulations. It’s good to install GFCIs wherever mandated by law, as they can be very important safety features.

When are GFCI Outlets Required in Bathrooms?

According to the National Electric Code, GFCI-protected outlets must be installed in bathrooms at a minimum. They recommend each bathroom should have two or more GFCI-protected outlets.

You should place them within 4-6 feet of the outer edge of a lavatory, sink, bathtub, shower stall, or other wet areas. It is good to use 125-volt, single-phase, 15- or 20-ampere receptacles in a bathroom even if it is 100 ft. away from a water source.

How Many Amps Should be Used With a Bathroom GFCI Outlet?

In order to effectively protect against electric shock, 15- and 20-amp, 125-volt receptacles must be installed with GFCI protection. It means a single 20-amp branch circuit is required for all bathroom receptacles.

However, if you have multiple outlets in a bathroom, you can install two or more GFCIs. So that they are able to effectively trip in case of an electrical fault. Make sure you follow NEC guidelines and always use wiring which meets the necessary safety requirements.

Tips to Prevent Electrical Hazards in the Bathroom

1. Mix electricity and water

When electricity and water are combined, they can create a potentially deadly situation. Therefore, you should install GFCI outlets which will prevent electric shock if water and electricity are mixed together.

2. Check local GFCI codes

Check your local building code to determine whether you need a GFCI outlet in your bathroom. However, if there is any water source in the bathroom sink, shower, tub, etc, a GFCI outlet is required. Even if your jurisdiction does not require GFCI outlets, it is still a good idea to have them installed in your bathroom.

3. Upgrades the electrical system

If your house is very old, it probably does not have a GFCI outlet. To ensure the safety of your home, you can upgrade your home electrical panel. The process isn’t too complicated. A professional electrician can handle it quickly and easily.

4. Install more GFCI outlets

I will recommend using GFCI outlets in bathrooms and kitchens, laundry rooms, and outdoor outlets. So every location where water and electricity have a possibility of coming into contact should be equipped with GFCI outlets.

NEC Bathroom Regulations

General lighting/fan circuit

According to NEC 210.70(A), the circuit for general lights/fans in a bathroom must be a dedicated circuit. It prevents overloading of the wiring and potential fire hazards. Also, it would be best to use at least 15-amp circuit breakers on this circuit. You should also install a 20 amp circuit breaker if you have an exhaust fan and a light over the tub or shower.

Use at least one ceiling-mounted light fixture

Your bathroom should have at least one ceiling-mounted light fixture. This light is extremely beneficial when performing tasks such as shaving or applying makeup.

Additionally, it creates an airy, open atmosphere in the room. Furthermore, it can be a safety feature, especially for unaccompanied children who use the bathroom.

Use at least one GFCI-protected

Your bathroom should have at least one GFCI-protected outlet to prevent electrical hazards. In addition, you should add a GFCI outlet for every additional bathroom you have.

GFCI Outlets in the bathroom

Use AFCI Protection

AFCI stands for Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters. It protects people from electrical fires by detecting and interrupting any arc faults before they have a chance to start a fire.

It is necessary to have AFCI protection in every living area of the home. However, it is especially crucial in the bathroom because there is a lot of water present.

As water and electricity do not mix well, using AFCI protection in your bathroom can protect you and your family from potential fires.

Switches must be grounded

Your bathroom must contain a switch that you can easy to controls the ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). The GFCI should be easily accessible and have a 15 to 20 amps rating.

According to NEC, you must use a wall switch outside the tub or shower areas to control a GFCI receptacle located inside the wet spot.


How many GFCI outlets are required in a bathroom?

According to most electrical experts, bathrooms and other wet areas should have at least one GFCI outlet. So that it can protect you from electrical shock if water or moisture contacts an electrical device.

Are electrical outlets required in commercial bathrooms?

Yes, commercial bathrooms are required to have GFCI outlets by law.

Last Words

In most countries and areas, GFCI outlets are not required in bathrooms, but they can pose a danger in case of an electrical accident.

Therefore, you should consult a licensed electrician if you doubt whether or not your bathroom should be equipped with GFCI outlets. In general, every bathroom or possibility of water contamination area should have at least one GFCI outlet between 15-20 AMPs rating.

[Updated by Palash Talukder]

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