2023 NEC Section 210.8(A)(5): GFCI Protection for Basements

By: Robert Key | Mar 04, 2023

One of the most important ways to protect people against electrical shock is Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupter (GFCI) Protection. The 2023 Edition of The National Electrical Code (NEC), Section 210.8(A), Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Protection for Personnel, Dwelling Units, calls out an additional location in a dwelling unit where ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection is required for receptacles.

The 2020 Code cycle made significant changes to this section, such as:

  • All 125- through 250-volt rated receptacles supplied by a single-phase branch circuit rated 150 volts or less to ground are required to have GFCI protection. This means that in addition to the washing machine, a clothes dryer in a laundry room would also need to be protected.
  • All portions of a basement, finished or not, require protection.

2023 NEC’s Biggest Changes

In the 2023 NEC, the number of locations where GFCI protection is required has increased from 11 to 12. The fifth location from the list is, 210.8 (A)(5), Basements. In the previous Code cycle, installers were offered only one exception to the requirement for GFCI protection for basement receptacles, and that exception only applied to a receptacle outlet(s) serving fire alarm or burglar alarm systems, and only in the basement. This exception was placed in the list following Basements, as it only applied to that location.

For the 2023 Code cycle, there has been a change to the format, making this section easier to understand and more consistent with the style guide for the NEC. All of the exceptions for Section 210.8 (A), Dwelling Units, reside at the end of this section and apply to all 12 locations listed. This includes the exception that was previously applied only to basements.

Together these four exceptions to GFCI protection for receptacles at dwellings now can be found at the end of Section 210.12(A) and they apply to all the locations listed at 210.8(A)(1) through (12). In addition, the 2023 NEC has also replaced the words “fire alarm or burglar alarm systems” with “premises security systems.” The use of this broader terminology will relieve the electrician from having to determine whether an outlet will be used for a fire or burglar alarm system as opposed to a “home security system” or “smart home security system,” etc.

Fire alarm and home security systems are now exempt from ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection in all areas of a dwelling.

The four exceptions now applicable to all locations in 210.12(A)(1) through (12) are as follows:

  • Receptacles for snow melting and deicing that are not readily accessible.
  • Receptacles supplying only a permanently installed premises security system.
  • Factory-installed receptacles internal to a bath fan.
  • Listed weight-supporting ceiling receptacles used in conjunction with a compatible attachment fitting and installed to support a ceiling luminaire or fan.

Electricians may be surprised when they turn to section 210.8(A)(5), expecting to verify their dedicated equipment receptacles are still exempt from GFCI protection in basements. According to the reformatted 2023 NEC, not only are fire and burglary alarm system outlets still exempt from GFCI protection in a dwelling unit basement, but their equipment outlets are exempt from GFCI protection requirements when located in any of the 12 dwelling unit locations specified in 210.8(A)(1) through (12).

In my opinion, this change is an improvement to a very important code section.

2 thoughts on “2023 NEC Section 210.8(A)(5): GFCI Protection for Basements

  1. Why not just ground fault and arc fault the whole residential electrical service on time and be done with it instead of having to install the ever increasing individual GFCI/AFCI required protection devices.

  2. Stan,

    That sure sounds easy, but good luck troubleshooting an intermittent ground fault. Every time there is a ground fault, it would take out your entire service. I have had to troubleshoot this situation on a floating home where a new appliance was tripping the whole house GFCI but only when the compressor would turn on. Just think, late at night when everyone is sleeping, a ground fault occurs in someone’s Christmas lights and they lose all power to their entire house including their breathing apparatus or life support equipment.

    Personally, I’m fine with the individual GFCI/AFCI protection devices.

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