by Nick Gromicko, CMI® and Kenton Shepard
Are exterior receptacles required at decks? The 2008 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC) describes two requirements for locations of outdoor receptacles in one- and two-family dwellings. The previous edition (2005) includes only one of these requirements, and inspectors should be aware of this change and understand the reason it was made. The NEC also describes how to achieve adequate weather protection for exterior receptacles.
Two Requirements for Locations of Outdoor Receptacles:
1. As of 2005, the NEC required at least one outdoor receptacle in the front and in the rear of
the house, not more than 6½ feet from the ground.
2. As of 2008, the NEC added the following requirement:
Balconies, decks and porches that are accessible from inside the dwelling unit shall have at least one receptacle outlet installed within the perimeter of the balcony, deck or porch. The receptacle shall not be located more than 6½ feet (2m) above the balcony, deck or porch surface.
The code offers the following exception to this rule:
Balconies, decks or porches with a usable area of less than 20 square feet (1.86 m2)
are not required to have a receptacle installed.
Reason for the 2008 Code Supplement:
Extension cords are likely to be used to run appliances on large balconies, decks and porches (greater than 20 feet square) if receptacles are not installed at these locations. Extension cords can be dangerous, especially if used outdoors and in wet conditions. The dangers associated with extension cords are…
Moisture Protection for Exterior Outlets
GFCI protection isn’t required for a fixed electric receptacle supplied by a dedicated branch circuit, if the receptacle isn’t readily accessible and the equipment or receptacle has ground-fault protection of equipment.
In summary, a recent supplement to the NEC’s requirement for the locations of outdoor receptacles has been added to mitigate the dangers arising from the use of extension cords. Inspectors should note missing deck receptacles as safety issues.
Note: The content of this article comes from the NEC, not the International Residential Code (IRC), because the IRC does not explicitly address these issues.