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 Adding Smart Switch with GFCI Outlet Question
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RJK23
Starting Member

USA
4 Posts

Posted - 01/11/2020 :  09:45:55 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
My first post . . .

I have an existing outdoor 110v circuit with multiple outlets. The first outlet on the circuit is a GFCI outlet located in the garage. The circuit exits the garage and the remaining outlets are outside in various locations. I want to add a WI-FI smart switch (Belkin WEMO Switch Gen2) so the outside outlets can be controlled with a smartphone schedule, e.g., holiday lighting.

Where should the smart switch be located in the circuit? Between the source electrical panel and the GFCI outlet (upstream from GFCI), or between the GFCI outlet and the first outside outlet (downstream from GFCI)? The smart switch would be in the garage protected from the weather. I’ve inquired multiple places including Belkin, but no success in getting clarification.

Thanks,


Tfitzpatri8
Administrator

USA
10829 Posts

Posted - 01/11/2020 :  10:05:50 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Doesn’t the switch comply with code in either location? In that case, it just needs to be protected from the weather, either inside or in a weatherproof box.

The Wemo uses WiFi signals exclusively for communications, so you need a good router and reliable WiFi coverage wherever you install it. You might want to find a phone app that can confirm WiFi signal strength and possible interference from neighbors’ signals before installing.
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RJK23
Starting Member

USA
4 Posts

Posted - 01/11/2020 :  10:55:24 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Tfitzpatri8

Doesn’t the switch comply with code in either location? In that case, it just needs to be protected from the weather, either inside or in a weatherproof box.

The Wemo uses WiFi signals exclusively for communications, so you need a good router and reliable WiFi coverage wherever you install it. You might want to find a phone app that can confirm WiFi signal strength and possible interference from neighbors’ signals before installing.

Thanks, I checked the wi-fi signal with my phone and it looks pretty good. I have mesh wi-fi routers and my coverage is strong. As far as switch location in the circuit, it may not matter, but I'm trying to determine if there is a best practice. Upstream or downstream from the GFCI outlet is the question.
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Tfitzpatri8
Administrator

USA
10829 Posts

Posted - 01/11/2020 :  11:44:20 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Personally, I would install on the protected side of the GFCI. That way everything is protected from wiring faults (including faults resulting from accidental impact). It’s also more intuitive, since you shouldn’t need to turn on your Christmas lights any time you want to use an outlet inside your garage.

Are any electricians reading? What do you think?
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RJK23
Starting Member

USA
4 Posts

Posted - 01/11/2020 :  2:28:55 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Tfitzpatri8

Personally, I would install on the protected side of the GFCI. That way everything is protected from wiring faults (including faults resulting from accidental impact). It’s also more intuitive, since you shouldn’t need to turn on your Christmas lights any time you want to use an outlet inside your garage. Are any electricians reading? What do you think?
Thanks, it also makes sense to me to install the switch on the protected side of the GFCI for the reasons you stated. I also found another website with a Q&A section that suggested that if you wanted a conventional switch on circuit with a GFCI outlet, the GFCI should be upstream of the switch. Barring any contrary advice, I'll have it installed that way and report back. Thanks for your timely and helpful comments.
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oberkc
Moderator

USA
4094 Posts

Posted - 01/11/2020 :  4:45:25 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I am not an electrician, but I can tell you that I have switches controlling outside devices, and the switches (located inside) are NOT GFCI protected, but the outside receptacles ARE. The house was built in 1992 and, I assume, code compliant at that time. Still, I dont think it would hurt anything were the switch protected. I think current code may include GFCI breakers, where everything on that circuit is protected.
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RJK23
Starting Member

USA
4 Posts

Posted - 01/11/2020 :  5:48:56 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by oberkc

I am not an electrician, but I can tell you that I have switches controlling outside devices, and the switches (located inside) are NOT GFCI protected, but the outside receptacles ARE. The house was built in 1992 and, I assume, code compliant at that time. Still, I dont think it would hurt anything were the switch protected. I think current code may include GFCI breakers, where everything on that circuit is protected.

Thanks, if I understand what you are saying, the GFCI protection is downstream of the switch in your exterior circuit. Is your switch a smart switch, or conventional? If the latter, I could see where it matters less to protect it than if it would if it were a smart switch.
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oberkc
Moderator

USA
4094 Posts

Posted - 01/14/2020 :  09:10:41 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Switch is smart now. I swapped it out.
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