Electrical codes are regularly under review. A committee exists (at least for the N.E.C. and the C.E.C.) to ensure that the code rules are relevant. When suggestions are made to incorporate advancements in products and designs, or to improve the safe installation of electrical equipment, the committee will invoke changes to the code. One such change occurred several years ago regarding the rules around the installation of outdoor receptacles, and the approved cover plates.
It used to be that outdoor receptacles were only required to have weatherproof cover plates. When properly installed they provide protection from the elements, but only when the doors are closed. As soon as you plug something into the receptacle, it is no longer considered weatherproof.
This led to the changes that called for what’s known as in-use weatherproof receptacle cover plates and enclosures for receptacles that are installed in locations that meet the definition of what is a “wet location”( i.e. exposed to the weather).
This is definitely a positive change (as most are) to the code, and one I fully support. Not sure I can say the same for tamper-resistant (TR) receptacles. Not that I don’t support the added safety features that they provide, but have you ever tried plugging something into a TR receptacle in a difficult location, like behind the television and stereo cabinet, in the dark? However, that’s a topic for another day.
Remember that any electrical installations that predate changes to the electrical code are “grandfathered” to the rules of the day. However, when you add to a system, it must meet the current rules and regulations unless it is a repair or a replacement in kind. However if you need to make a repair, why not bring things up to a new and better standard?
To break it down to the simplest terms, the code now says that receptacles in a wet location must be in an enclosure and cover that is weatherproof at all times, even when an attachment plug is inserted.
In the following video I demonstrate how to replace a standard duplex weatherproof receptacle cover plate with an in-use enclosure, and I take the opportunity to fix up a poorly installed receptacle while I’m at it.
You can purchase an in-use weatherproof receptacle cover through Amazon.
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