Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) | CEC § 210.8


Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters, or GFCIs are essential safety devices crucial in residential electrical systems. The guidelines for their installation and use can be found within the California Electric Code (CEC).

Before we delve into the specifics, let's clarify some of the terms you'll encounter:

  1. GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter): A device that protects against severe or fatal electric shocks and reduces the risk of electrical fires by interrupting the electrical circuit when it detects an imbalance between the outgoing and incoming current. It is defined in the CEC as "A device intended for the protection of personnel that functions to de-energize a circuit or portion thereof within an established period of time when a ground-fault current to ground exceeds the values established for a Class A device."
  2. Receptacles: Also known as outlets. These are the points in a building's wiring where a plug is inserted to draw electricity for appliances and devices. They are defined in the CEC "A contact device installed at the outlet for the connection of an attachment plug, or for the direct connection of electrical utilization equipment designed to mate with the corresponding contact device. A single receptacle is a single contact device with no other contact device on the same yoke or strap. A multiple receptacle is two or more contact devices on the same yoke or strap."
  3. Single-phase branch circuits: In a residential context, these are the circuits that provide the power to your outlets. They're called "single-phase" because the power they deliver has a single waveform (a representation of the flow of electricity).
  4. Voltage: A measure of electric potential, often in reference to the power provided by an electrical circuit. A higher voltage typically means a circuit can deliver more power.
  5. Amperes (Amps): The standard unit for measuring electrical current. The current rating of a circuit determines how much electrical charge can flow through it per second.

Understanding these terms is key to interpreting the California Residential Code sections provided. The codes define the need for GFCI protection in various areas within dwellings and for certain appliances. Locations range from bathrooms and kitchens to outdoor areas and accessory buildings, and specific appliances include everything from vending machines to dishwashers.


The requirements for GFCIs are found in California Electric Code (CEC) 210.8 (A) through (F). Also be aware of what the manufacturer’s instructions of the specific electrical equipment you are installing are requiring. They may specify that the circuit that the equipment is being installed on must be GFCI protected.

GFCI Protection in Dwelling Units

All 125-volt through 250-volt receptacles installed in the below locations and supplied by single-phase branch circuits rated 150 volts or less to ground shall be GFCI protected.

  1. Bathrooms
  2. Garages and accessory buildings that have a floor located at or below grade level not intended as habitable rooms and limited to storage areas, work areas, and areas of similar use
  3. Outdoors
  4. Crawl spaces — at or below grade level
  5. Basements
  6. Kitchens — where the receptacles are installed to serve the countertop surfaces
  7. Sinks — where receptacles are installed within 1.8 m (6 ft) from the top inside edge of the bowl of the sink
  8. Boathouses
  9. Bathtubs or shower stalls — where receptacles are installed within 1.8 m (6 ft) of the outside edge of the bathtub or shower stall
  10. Laundry areas (an area containing or designed to contain a laundry tray, clothes washer, or clothes dryer)
  11. Indoor damp and wet locations

GFCI Protection for Specific Appliances

Appliances identified below rated 150 volts or less to ground and 60 amperes or less (single- or 3-phase) shall be GFCI protected.

  1. Automotive vacuum machines
  2. Drinking water coolers and bottle fill stations
  3. Cord-and-plug-connected high-pressure spray washing machines
  4. Tire inflation machines
  5. Vending machines
  6. Sump pumps
  7. Dishwashers