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Why must we install a bathroom receptacle per NEC requires if we don't want one?

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asked in Electrical by peschell (120 points)
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1 Answer

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Hi Peschell,
I'm afraid I'm not the right person to answer that question… NEC requires GFCI outlet receptacle(s) in a bathroom for safety reasons, so anyone using electrical equipment near water sources is protected from being accidentally electrocuted. 
Whether you choose to comply with those requirements or not will matter if an accident happens or maybe when your property is evaluated by a home inspector prior to a real estate transaction. Different laws serve different purposes; this one helps to save lives.
answered by darekrudy (21,730 points)

My question was not why do we use a GFI receptacle - that's obvious. The question is why are we required to install a receptacle if we don't wan't one? NEC won't allow a receptacle near a shower or tub for obvious reasons and for the same reasons I would not want to have a receptacle near a sink but code requirement demands I install one. Why?


It would be difficult or probably even impossible to implement several rules that cover every possible configuration / installation of outlet receptacles around the house. Creating one general requirement optimized for safety is much easier. 
Let’s say a home owner has a bathroom which is not equipped with an electrical outlet receptacle. They have a guest staying overnight and using that bathroom, taking a shower or maybe just washing their hair. Since there is no electrical outlet for the hair dryer, hair styling iron, or corded shaver, they simply ask for and use an extension cord plugged into an unprotected outlet in an adjoining room. 
Besides locking GFCI protection (some devices do have that built in already / some not), there are a number of things that may go wrong with this scenario:
  • An extension cord is undersized, not capable of handling a hair dryer; it overheats which could cause a fire
  • An extension cord could cause a person to trip over it 
  • An extension cord could get damaged if the door is closed on it
  • A person could drop an electrically powered device into a sink filled with water and get electrocuted….
The above can work for a horror movie script, and for those who write building codes, it’s an attempt to create some general laws that can be applied in our everyday lives without disrupting them too much.