POSTED ON April 18, 2022
It’s that time of year. Everyone in the valley wants to spend evenings and nights outside under the bistro lighting in their backyard getaway— if they have one.
Like many Arizonans, you may be looking to elevate your backyard with an outdoor kitchen, new lighting, or outdoor displays. If you’re considering renovating your space, you’ll undoubtedly come across decisions about electricity. Any electrical appliance needs an outlet to run. Still, if you’re looking to leave something plugged in outside your home, you must ensure it’s done correctly to keep your home and loved ones safe. The answer: GFCI outlets.
GFCI stands for ground fault circuit interrupter. When an outlet shorts, an electrical current flows in an unintended, shorter pathway instead of its intended direction. In other words, electricity takes a path it shouldn’t, which is extremely dangerous. A GFCI outlet is designed to stop the current when this happens to prevent fatal shocks or property damage.
You may have noticed this in the kitchen or bathroom of your house. Have you ever tried to turn on an appliance plugged into the wall only to have the buttons on the outlet pop up instead? That’s your GFCI at work! (Make sure to tell it, “thanks!”)
Since the 1970s, The National Electrical Code has required GFCI outlets for most outdoor receptacles. Outdoor outlets also have to be covered to keep moisture and dust out of the socket. If you have an older Arizona home, you may have GFCI outlets without a cover or no GFCI outlets at all.
Not all GFCI outlets are made equal. Make sure you’re making the right decision for your outdoor space with this guide:
These are the traditional covered outlets you’ve probably seen repeatedly over the past 45 years. They have a simple hinge with a door that keeps GFCI outlets covered and free of dust and moisture. These are the cheapest type of outdoor outlet but come with some drawbacks. Because of the hinge design, plugging something into a covered outlet requires the cover to be open, removing much of its protection from the elements.
With this in mind, it’s not a good idea to leave something plugged in indefinitely. These are best for temporary power to outdoor appliances like leaf blowers, lawnmowers, and others.
Think of these as upgraded covered outlets. They maintain a cover-and-hinge design, but instead of featuring a flat outlet cover, they use a bubble. The space between the socket and the bubble cover allows appliances to stay plugged in while the outlet remains protected.
Unlike traditional covered outlets, you can leave something plugged into a bubble outlet without any concern. It’s the “gold standard” for GFCI outlets
Outdoor outlets are not known for being aesthetically pleasing. Even the bubble outlets, which operate functionally better over covered outlets, can be an eyesore among your patio furniture. Pop-Up outlets address this issue. Instead of sticking out of the wall, they pop up when you need them and hide flush when you don’t.
While these outlets look the best overall, they maintain the same issues as covered outlets— using the outlet removes its protection, and you can’t leave something plugged in indefinitely. Pop-up outlets could be exactly what your outdoor space needs if you’re okay with these drawbacks and a higher price point.
Go outside and check your outlets— are they GFCI (look for buttons)? Do they have covers? If not, call someone immediately. Installing new outlets, especially GFCI outlets, is a complex process suited for licensed professionals. Trying to replace an outlet on your own can be extremely dangerous. If you need to replace outlets on your Arizona home, call Super Electric today at (602) 904-6842.
If you’re planning on renovating your outdoor space, decide where you need your new outlets. If you’re installing new bistro lighting, you may consider an eave outlet embedded in your roof’s soffit or slightly under the soffit on the wall. An eave outlet allows you to plug bistro lights (or Christmas lights) directly into an outlet instead of using an extension cord, which creates vulnerabilities in the delivery of electricity.
Another excellent place for new outlets is your back patio. You may want to install outlets for an outdoor kitchen or near a seating area. There’s nothing worse than having your laptop or phone die while working outside on a beautiful day. So install that new outlet and charge up!
Ready to upgrade your outdoor space? Our experts can help you plan, place, and install your new GFCIs. Call now (602) 904-6842