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GFCI for outdoor holiday lights?

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  • GFCI for outdoor holiday lights?

    I live in an area with a fair amount of rain during the winter months. I am planning ahead for an elaborate outdoor lighting display at my home and considering purchasing an extension cord with an inline GFCI.

    My outdoor AC power outlet is a 3-wire grounded outlet, but not a GFCI outlet. I have a conventional circuit breaker panel for my home.

    My question is: Will the GFCI be effective if the device plugged into it is not grounded? In my case, the holiday lights will be the typical strings of lights on a two-wire plug without any ground. Is it worth spending $25 - $30 for the GFCI?

  • #2
    Re: GFCI for outdoor holiday lights?

    The GFCI will still protect you from electrical shock, even if the load is not grounded.

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    • #3
      Re: GFCI for outdoor holiday lights?

      yes. breid................

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      • #4
        Re: GFCI for outdoor holiday lights?

        Originally posted by AverageHomeowner View Post
        I live in an area with a fair amount of rain during the winter months. I am planning ahead for an elaborate outdoor lighting display at my home and considering purchasing an extension cord with an inline GFCI.

        My outdoor AC power outlet is a 3-wire grounded outlet, but not a GFCI outlet. I have a conventional circuit breaker panel for my home.

        My question is: Will the GFCI be effective if the device plugged into it is not grounded? In my case, the holiday lights will be the typical strings of lights on a two-wire plug without any ground. Is it worth spending $25 - $30 for the GFCI?
        A GFCI outlet monitors the flow of current between the hot terminal and the neutral terminal. If a device like, say, a set of Christmas lights is functioning properly, spreading glee and cheer as they should, the current flowing from the hot terminal, through the Christmas lights thereby powering them then back through neutral terminal will be the same or very, very nearly the same. However, if a child were to stick his or her finger into an empty socket on those same Christmas lights and receive a shock, then some of the power that should be going back to the outlet will be taking an alternate route to earth. The GFCI "sees" that as a current imbalance since there is more "going out" than "coming in". If the imbalance exceeds 5mA (very, very little heat but still a memorable jolt if you've ever inadvertently tripped a GFCI the hard way) then a mechanism in the outlet breaks the connection and the electrocution is averted. This all happens independently from the equipment ground which is why you are permitted to retrofit old 2-wire outlets with 3-prong GFCI if no other grounding method exists.

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