2023 NEC Section 210.8(A)(7): GFCI Protection for Areas with Sinks and Food Preparation

By: Robert Key | Mar 03, 2023

There is no question that properly functioning Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupter (GFCI) devices save lives. The Consumer product Safety Commission states that deaths by electrocution have steadily decreased since their introduction in the 1971 edition of the National Electrical Code. It is important to note that since 2011, these devices have been required to be readily accessible since they should be tested monthly. GFCI devices can and do fail, which removes the potential for protection against shock and electrocution. 

2023 NEC Changes

The 2020 NEC required GFCI protection for receptacles installed in 11 locations throughout a dwelling. The 2023 NEC has increased that number to 12 locations as provided in Section 210.8(A)(1) through (A)(12). The new location includes any area of the home other than a kitchen in “Areas with sinks and permanent provisions for food preparation, beverage preparation, or cooking.”

The text that occupied (A)(7) in the 2020 NEC has been moved to (A)(8) so that now there are 12 locations (instead of 11) where receptacles must be GFCI protected in a dwelling unit. 

This is a very significant change to the Code. During the 2020 Code cycle, a receptacle installed in a butler’s pantry or above a basement bar did not require GFCI protection unless the receptacles were within six feet of a sink. The change is logical, given the low cost involved with providing GFCI protection and the fact that any location where water and electricity are present has the potential for electric shock in a fault current situation. There is a high likelihood for water to be present in any food prep, bar, or similar location, even without the presence of a sink.

In the same way as kitchen countertops that since the 1996 NEC have required GFCI protection for receptacles regardless of their proximity to the sink, receptacles installed in food and beverage prep areas are subject to moisture regardless of their distance from the sink. Those locations represent potential for electric shock or even electrocution. 

Section 210.8(A)(7) will now ensure GFCI protection is provided for all receptacles included in food and beverage prep areas outside of the home’s kitchen but specifically receptacles that are located more than 6 feet from any sink.

It falls upon the electrical professional to keep up with these important code changes. The new requirement is in harmony with the intent of the Code, “the practical safeguarding of persons and property from hazards arising from the use of electricity.”

Areas like this butler’s pantry are now required to have GFCI protection for outlets, even when no sink is present.

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