Outdoor outlet questions


Old 05-21-05, 01:53 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 36
Outdoor outlet questions

I have an outdoor outlet on a 20 amp circuit that I want to run some power tools off of via a 50 ft. 10 ga, 20 amp Yellowjacket extension cord. It has a standard outlet, so I bought a 20 amp GFCI to install.

I took the cover off to confirm that it was dedicated, which it is, but noticed there was no ground wire. Is it safe to use an extension cord with this circuit?

Secondly, the outlet in question is basically wired directly behind the fusebox but only with 14 gauge wire.(Split level house, the box is in the laundry room above ground level) Is that an issue despite the lack of distance from the circuit to the outlet? It probably wouldn't be much of an issue to rewire it with 12 gauge, given the proximity of the outlet to the box.

Would I be just as well off rewiring the outlet, and just tapping into it and running another line to our attached garage where I work? It's about 40 feet from the existing outlet.

I'd appreciate any advice, and I thank you in advance!
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Old 05-21-05, 02:03 PM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
Many outdoor outlets are not GFCI receptacles themselves, but are nevertheless GFCI protected by a GFCI receptacle or breaker upstream from it. Redundant GFCI protection is unnecessary (but it doesn't hurt either.

Unless the circuit is wired with 12-gauge wire and protected by a 20-amp breaker, you are not allowed to put a 20-amp GFCI receptacle on it (i.e., a receptacle with one "T" shaped slot). You must use a 15-amp GFCI receptacle (with 20-amp pass-through), with simple slots.

Now, finally to your questions.
  1. It is safe and okay to use this extension cord on an ungrounded, but GFCI protected, receptacle.
  2. As long as the breaker is 15-amps, the 14-gauge wire is fine. But there's no harm replacing it with 12-gauge if you want to (although there's not much point either). The main advantage of replacing the cable is to get grounding (unless you already have it via metallic conduit).
  3. I'd need to know a lot more about your garage to answer your last question. There are a hundred things to consider when providing power to a garage. First of all, is there any electrical power at all in the garage now? But the extension cord should only be used for temporary occasional use. Unplug it and coil it up after every use (even though it is outdoor cord).
Old 05-21-05, 07:28 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 36
Thank you very much for the reply. I'll probably end up replacing the wire to the outlet. I already have some 12-2, and it shouldn't be terribly involved, since the outlet is right there. Having the ground in place will just be a bonus.

The garage is attached to the house, around 40 feet from the box. It has power running to it, but it's a 15 amp circuit that it shares with a couple other areas in the house. I have a neighbor who's an electrician that just happens to be away on vacation while I'm doing this. When he gets back, I'll have him take a look and he can give me some hands on input. I just didn't want to go off halfcocked and do this work if there's a chance that I shouldn't.

Thanks again!

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