Can You Wire Multiple GFCI Outlets (Daisy Chain) on the Same Circuit?

There is a common misconception that you can daisy chain GFCI outlets together. Having 2 GFCIs on the same circuit has no added benefit and can cause the occupant confusion when it comes to tracking down a tripped GFCI outlet.

When the GFCI is installed on the lead outlet, there is no need to wire multiple GFCIs on the same circuit for residential use. All GFCIs trip at a current leakage as low as 4 to 5 milliamps. There is no additional safety gained from daisy-chaining two or more GFCIs together.

If your home has multiple GFCI outlets on the same circuit, and you trip a downstream GFCI, the lead GFCI will also trip. You will not be able to trip the downstream GFCI until you locate and reset the first (lead) GFCI on the circuit.

Brief Overview on How a GFCI Works

The GFCI uses a differential current sensing circuit. A ground fault occurs when the current escape the receptacle across the neutral. A sensor monitors the current flowing through the hot wire and neutral. When a ground fault across the hot and neutral wires occurs, the sensors trip, shutting off power on that circuit to prevent electrical shock.

The GFCI also protects the device plugged into the outlet and all downstream outlets. All appliances connected to an electrical circuit need a functional ground fault protection device (GFP) to meet NEC regulations involving GFCIs.

A GFCI is a safety device used to protect occupants from electrical shock or electrocution, which is why it’s essential to test GFCIs every month and be sure they trip as intended.

For more on how GFCIs work, see our article How Do GFCI Outlets Work and Why You Need Them.

What Does it mean to Daisy Chain Outlets

Daisy-chaining outlets are merely the practice of wiring several outlets together in series on one circuit. Having multiple outlets on the same circuit is common. The number of outlets used will vary on installing a 15-amp or a 20-amp circuit.

Is GFCI Daisy Chaining Dangerous?

There’s no added danger by daisy-chaining multiple GFCIs together. When a GFCI is installed on the first circuit outlet, if one outlet trips, the other outlets in its daisy chain will also trip and shut off. See the illustration below.

Can You Daisy Chain Multiple GFCI Outlets?

Yes, you can daisy chain GFCI outlets together, but it’s unnecessary and provides no added safety. There’s nothing that says you can’t install multiple GFCIs on the same circuit. However, there is no additional safety gained by doing so.

GFCIs are meant to be used as a protection mechanism for an entire circuit, not just one outlet. What would happen if you wired two GFCIs outlets together and the first GFCI trips? You will still protect the second device (the one downstream), meaning that if one outlet trips, the others in its daisy chain will shut off.

The GFCI will protect against electric shock by tripping the circuit to detect that current is flowing along an unexpected path. Although they are most common in bathrooms, kitchens, and outdoor areas, you can find these outlets anywhere where moisture may contact electrical wiring. The NEC updates safety standards every 3 years and continually expands the GFCI usage.

When installing a GFCI outlet, be sure to test the GFCI by pushing the TEST button on the device’s front. It should trip and then reset itself (indicated by the LIGHT going out). If it doesn’t, have a qualified electrician look at it.

How Many GFCI Outlets Can You Have on the Same Circuit?

As stated above, you only need one GFCI on the circuit, provided you install the GFCI outlet on the first (aka lead) outlet. Installing one GFCI is also the most cost-conscientious approach as a GFCI receptacle can cost $25 or more while a standard outlet only costs about $5.

You could install about 10 receptacles on a 20-amp circuit. However, it’s unlikely you’d ever need this many GFCI receptacles on one circuit.

Can I Plug a GFCI Plug into a GFCI Receptacle?

Many appliances now have built-in GFCI protection in the plug. A hairdryer is an excellent example of this.

Manufacturers are starting to do this as a safety precaution if the user is plugging the appliance into a receptacle that is not GFCI protected. If you plug a GFCI plug into a GFCI protected circuit, both will likely trip in the event of a ground fault.

However, you’ll still have the safety of GFCI protection if you plug the appliance into a non-GFCI protected outlet, such as a bedroom where the NEC doesn’t require GFCIs.

FAQs

Ground fault circuit interrupters, or GFCIs, are a lifesaver. They can prevent electrocution and fires in your home by automatically shutting off the power when they sense a ground fault. Here are some additional questions you may have about GFCIs. Keep reading to find out!

Do all Bathroom Outlets Need to be GFCI?

Bathrooms often have electrical outlets to plugin hairdryers and other appliances. The National Electrical Code (NEC) requires that all bathroom outlets be Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs). However, there may be some exceptions.

GFCIs are special outlets that protect people from electrical shocks. They work by sensing when an electrical current flows in an unintended direction, such as through a person’s body. When a GFCI detects an unsafe condition, it automatically shuts off the power to the outlet.

Do all bathroom outlets need to be GFCI? It depends on the local building code. NEC requires all bathroom electrical outlets to be Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs). However, there may be some exceptions in certain regions due to different codes requirements.

In new construction homes, you’ll often find all bathroom outlets daisy-chained to one lead GFCI outlet on the circuit. The configuration will often vary based on the size of the house. Some builders will place each bathroom on individual circuits, while other contractors may have all bathrooms sharing a circuit.

Does a Refrigerator Need a GFCI?

The NEC requires AFCI for refrigerators but does not require GFCI protection. The NEC guideline states that a receptacle on a dedicated branch circuit located and identified for a cord-and-plug-connected appliance, such as a refrigerator or freezer, does not require a GFCI.

However, it also states that all outlets within 6 feet of the edge of any sink require GFCI protection. So if your refrigerator is within 6 feet of the sink of any sink, it will require GFCI protection.

To accomplish this task, most builders will now install a CAFCI breaker inside the breaker box to protect the circuit from all fault types, which meets the NEC requirement for both AFCI and GFCI protection.

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Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections for 17 years. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started HomeInspectionInsider.com to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.
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