National Electrical Installation Standards

Standards as High as Your Own

Thursday, January 3, 2019


Re: CQD answer published Thursday, December 20, 2018 -GFCI with no EGC

1) Charlie, the question is probably referring to a two wire system where there is no EGC. I run across this frequently in older homes. Yes, the GFCI will still work without an EGC. Tom Ekstrom 

2) What if the person asking the question ask the question in the following way (which is what I think he was trying to ask)…what would your answer be? I have a GFCI outside that I can’t get an equipment grounding conductor to, is that violating and CODE? Regards, L. Keith Lofland



Hey Tom and Keith thanks for your follow up comments.

1) As previously stated GFCI's are only intended to be used in circuits where one of the conductors is solidly grounded. The term grounded conductor is defined in Article 100. That does not mean that an equipment grounding conductor (EGC) needs to be present for the GFCI to function but the system needs to be grounded. In residential applications this is typically accomplished by the utility grounding their supply transformer secondary.

2) Clarifying what we previously stated, for new installations, receptacles on 15 and 20 ampere branch circuits must be of the grounding type as stated in 406.4(A) and their grounding contacts must be connected to an equipment grounding conductor as stated in 406.4(B)&(C). So, if this is a new installation an equipment grounding conductor must be installed with the circuit conductors. If an existing non-grounding type receptacle is being replaced, and an equipment grounding does not exist in the enclosure, GFCI protection can be used without having to install an equipment grounding conductor under the conditions in 406.4(D). The Informational notes remind us that some equipment is required to be connected to a branch circuit that includes an equipment grounding conductor. As mentioned in the answer to 1) the system (likely utility) still needs to be grounded.

ABOUT CQD: NECA’s Code Question of the Day (CQD) is a leading National Electrical Code® forum for NECA and the industry. The CQD generates a lively dialogue and relative practical and Code-based responses to an ever-increasing and interactive audience.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: All answers are based on the latest edition of the National Electrical Code®, unless the question requests a response based on a specific edition. This correspondence is not a formal interpretation of the NEC®. Any responses expressed to the questions are opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of NECA, NFPA, or any technical committee. In addition, this correspondence is neither intended, nor should it be relied upon, to provide professional consultation or services.

ABOUT CHARLIE: Charles M. Trout, better known as Charlie, was a nationally known NEC® expert and author. He served on several NEC® technical committees and is past chairman of CMP-12. In 2006 Charlie was awarded the prestigious Coggeshall Award for outstanding contributions to the electrical contracting industry, codes and standards development, and technical training. Charlie was also a member of NECA’s Academy of Electrical Contracting. Charlie’s experienced team of industry experts keep the CQD dialogue and discussions active and informative in the spirit of the man himself, as he wanted.

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