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Does Bathroom Need GFCI Protection?

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Last updated on August 14th, 2022 at 01:28 pm

Due to continuous electrical malfunctions, which are bound to occur, it is always essential to use some form of safety measures. Therefore, modern electrical installations make use of GFCI outlets for protection against electrical fires and damages.

A GCFI is a circuit breaker that kills the electric power when there is a significant fluctuation in current. Well, lots of questions are popping up about the need for GFCI protection in bathrooms.

Bathrooms need at least one outlet that GFCI protects. This has been reiterated by the National Electric Code, which recommends that you use about two or three GFCI outlets when you can. Nevertheless, you could choose to use several GFCI protected outlets, but you should make sure to have one installed.

Does Bathroom Lighting Need to be GFCI Protected?

Bathroom lights need GFCI protection because they pose some high risks when there is an electrical short. Additionally, GFCI protection is highly required for switches and outlets and fixtures of light above the shower area.

Well, it’s always better to be safe, so there are certain things you can put in place to make sure you are safe from any risk. Know that one mode to make sure your bathroom lights are free from threats of electrical shock is to install the required GFCI outlets.

GFCI outlets are crucial in areas that can get flooded by water while you use your bathroom. This may cover the areas where your sink, bathtub, and shower stall are located. Well, whether you use those areas frequently or not, GFCI protection is always needed.

Note that you can protect yourself from electric shocks by placing a GFCI circuit breaker in the installation outlets or your electrical panel. Also, if you use one outlet, it would be best to use the wiring in “multiple location” mode. This would give protection against shocks in the entire house and not only at one GFCI outlet.

Some kinds of bathroom lights do not require GFCI protection. For example, fluorescent fixtures, recessed lights, incandescent lightings, and other bathroom electric lightings do not require GFCI protection. Now, in most instances, there is a high risk of electrical shock once your bathroom components become wet.

This is because fixtures do not do anything to protect you from electric shocks. Also, a tiny spark could cause an unexpected fire outbreak because bathrooms carry plumbing which is always wet and filled with water. Therefore, most bathroom facilities’ manufacturers emphasize GFCI protection for fixtures of bathroom lighting that are within reach of your tub or shower.

Therefore, if the outlet around your shower or tub gets tripped, your bathroom lights would still function. Well, GFCI gives you essential protection against electrical damages and imminent injuries.

Can Lights and Outlets be on the Same Circuit in Bathroom?

Many homeowners wonder if it is okay to put lights and outlets on the same circuit in their bathrooms. Of course, this kind of electrical setup is allowed; it is widespread in most places globally. However, it would be best if you took note of one thing; never place loads that are more than 80 percent of the circuit rating on those outlets.

One thing is for sure: placing lights and outlets on one circuit provides some top-notch convenience. This is because this helps to solve various problems and issues which may have been pending.

For example, if you’d want to add lighting to an area without light, it is always easier to place it on the circuit. Adding lights and carrying out wiring afresh may be impossible or simply too tedious, so this could be the only option.

Another reason for this kind of wiring is if you want to improve the lighting of your bathroom. Also, you can go ahead to add another outlet to perfect the electrical setup and reduce the risks of electrical hazards.

Fifteen amps or twenty amps branch circuits ideally provide electricity to outlets, lights, and even combined. As a homeowner, you can choose to use this kind of setup in your bathroom; you won’t be making any violations to safety guidelines.

Also, note that it would be best if you never added outlets or lights to a bathroom circuit that supports other outlets outside the bathroom. The only circuit you should modify should be for taking care of items that need electricity in your bathroom.

Can a Bathroom be on a Single Circuit?

In carrying out electrical installations, homeowners often get into fixes about the number of circuits that a bathroom requires. For example, your bathroom may occupy just a little bit of space which you think can be efficiently covered by one circuit extension. However, the National Electric Code now stipulates that you should install at least two dedicated circuits in every bathroom.

Also, you are required to use a 20 amp receiving circuit for all your auxiliary appliances.  These circuits must be protected by AFCI or GFCI using circuit breakers or receptacles which offer GFCI and AFCI protection.

On the other hand, you must place wall switches and light fixtures on another circuit. This circuit can have a capacity of either 15 amps or 20 amps; if there is a heat lamp inducted into the setup, a 20-amp circuit is best. Additionally, this circuit is to power the vent fan in your bathroom.

Another separate circuit is needed for any other power-consuming fixture or appliances you might install in your bathroom.

Although the National Electric Code states that bathroom circuits should be dedicated to the bathroom, you may still ignore this stipulation if your local authorities allow it. Well, you will have to check with local house planning officers to make a decision.

Does a Bathroom Exhaust Fan Need its Own Circuit?

If your bathroom exhaust fan has a heater built into the system, it is required to have its own 20 amp circuit. This kind of circuit is called a dedicated circuit because it works with a single fixture or appliance. Other fixtures that require dedicated circuits are wall heaters, heat lamps, and several other built-in appliances for heating.

It is general practice for electricians to add another circuit for the bathroom exhaust fan which matches its power rating. This circuit is also supposed to match the fan’s blower demand to avoid tripping failures and subsequent damage.

Understand that a 20-amp circuit delivers 80 percent of its load before it hits a risk of subsequent tripping. Now, when you plug several loads on a circuit that exceed its capacity, both run the risk of electrical damage and personal hazard.

For this reason, most electronics manufacturers insist that you use dedicated circuits for some combination units. Surprisingly, these circuits do not necessarily require GFCI protection.

Therefore, separate wiring circuits are always a good idea. Additionally, electrical codes stress that branch circuits must possess electrical capacities that equal the loads you plan to use on them. Therefore, you should keep these in mind when installing your bathroom exhaust fan to ensure your safety.


GFCI protection is one important thing you shouldn’t forget when carrying out electrical installations in your bathroom. Also, the number of GFCI outlets you use depends on the general layout of your bathroom. Nevertheless, at least one GFCI protected outlet should be present.

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