Installing a GFCI Outlet for Your Grow Lights

11 December 2015
 Categories: , Blog

As winter weather forces your plants indoors, it's time to evaluate your indoor plant environment. If your grow lights are plugged into a regular outlet, there is a danger of electric shock from water spray coming into contact with your electric outlet.

You can minimize the danger by replacing the outlet with a GFCI outlet.

What is a GFCI outlet?

A GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlet will detect when an outlet is insufficiently grounded and shuts off power to the outlet. The outlet cannot be reset until the danger has passed.

Because water is a strong conductor of electric current, these outlets are most useful in damp or wet areas such as bathrooms, basements, outdoor locations, or, in this case, where water is being sprayed indoors.

What do you need to install a GFCI outlet?

The Outlet

You can find a GFCI outlet in any home improvement store. You are most likely to be replacing a standard fifteen amp outlet, with two parallel slots and a hole for a round grounding pin. If you are replacing a twenty amp outlet for higher use appliances, it will have one of the parallel slot shaped as a sideways "T".

A New Open Face Plate

The face plate that covers your existing outlet will not be usable with a GFCI outlet, because the center of a GFCI outlet has an indicator light and a reset button in the center that must be exposed.


Both a Phillips and flat head screwdriver will be needed.

Removing Your Old Outlet

turn off the power to the outlet by shutting off the appropriate circuit breaker. If you're not sure which breaker is the correct one, plug an appliance into the outlet and turn it on, then shut off individual breakers until the appliance shuts off.

Remove the center screw from the old face plate, then the two screws that hold the outlet inside the gang box in the wall.

You will see either one or two sets of wires connected to the side(s) of the outlet. Detach all wires by loosening the screw terminals, keeping the wires separated.

Installing the GFCI outlet

if you have one set of three wires, connect them to the top "load" section of the outlet. The black wire will be connected to the gold terminal, the white wire to the silver terminal, and the green or copper wire to the green terminal.

If you have a second set of wires, you will connect these to the bottom "line" portion of the outlet in the same manner. 

Push the outlet into the gang box and install the open face plate with the provided screws, then turn on the power, and your task is complete. 

Of course, even though your outlet is protected, you will still  need to avoid spraying water near the outlet as much as possible to avoid activating the outlet's automatic shutoff.

If you need help changing any outlets, or if you want a new one installed, consider contacting a residential electrician to help you.