Do Attics Have Outlets – (Should You Them In Yours)

In the past, nearly every home was built with an attic. These spaces benefited many families in smaller homes who needed storage or living room. 

Nowadays, that’s not so common anymore. However, people who do have attic spaces often like to upgrade their attics to meet modern needs. This includes electric upgrades.

Attics do not necessarily have to have outlets, but a lot of them do. Even though attics often enjoy natural light from windows in the sloped roof, they can be dark. Adding something like a lighting outlet lets you plug in a lamp or other electronics.

Here, we explore attic electrical outlets, why you might want them, and what requirements your electrical outlets should meet.

modern attic interior with outlet

Outlets in Attics: Are They Necessary?

Most people who spend a lot of time in their attics would agree that having wall outlets in an attic is at least convenient, if not necessary. After all, how are you supposed to plug in any electrical devices you might want to use there?

An attic might be just fine with no outlets if you simply use it to store away a few items or use it only once in a while. But regular outlets will probably be vital if you turn the attic into a living space or office.

Are Outlets Always Allowed in Attics?

At the highest point of your home—right under the roof—an attic protects other rooms in the house from harsh weather conditions. An attic’s utility as a storage space, bedroom, or office makes it one of the most important rooms in many homes.

And usually, there are no issues with installing electrical wiring for outlets in an attic. However, be aware that your specific town, city, county, or state might have codes and policies that you must adhere to.

If you have any doubts about building codes and how they pertain to outlets in attics, consult a professional electrician.

Do Attic Outlets Need to Be GFCI Protected?

attic outlets installation

GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters. The critical thing to know about GFCI is that its purpose is to keep people from being shocked by electricity.

Most rooms in a home that happen to have GFCI protection do because of a code requirement. 

Usually, attics do not typically require GFCI protection. A notable exception is if there is heating, air-conditioning, or refrigeration equipment in the attic. If this is the case, GFCI protection is required.

Spaces that must have GFCI protection include swimming pools, bathrooms, garages, kitchens, and unfinished basements. Attics are not on this list. Yet homeowners often choose to add GFCI in the name of safety.

The NEC (National Electrical Code) also requires GFCI protection for every room that is a short distance from a water source. 

This code is updated every few years, so attics could be added to the list of spaces that require GFCI at any time. Keep up to date to make sure your home meets building codes.

What to Do If Your Attic Doesn’t Have Outlets

minimalist attic

If your attic does not have any outlets and you feel that you need them, the first thing you should do is check that building codes allow them. At minimum, verify that such outlets aren’t prohibited.

You can learn about building codes from a building inspector, expert electrician, or the zoning and building department at your local city hall. 

Assuming that there are no issues with installing outlets in your attic, you will have to decide whether you want to pay a contractor or install them yourself. Dealing with electricity comes with many dangers, such as electrocution, so hiring a professional is probably the best option

However, if you have experience with such projects, various benefits come from installing attic outlets yourself, such as:

Saving Money

The biggest benefit of doing DIY jobs is that you save money. Exactly how much you save depends on how big the job is. But you will likely save hundreds of dollars by installing attic outlets yourself.

installing an electrical outlet attic

No Hassle

Dealing with contractors can be a pain, especially when negotiating a fair price. If you do it yourself, you also won’t have to worry about contractor schedules or having strangers enter your home.

Conclusion

No matter what you use your attic for, outlets are very handy. Your attic probably already has at least one outlet. But if it doesn’t, you can usually install a few. 

If you are comfortable with electrical projects, you might even want to do this yourself and save some money. Just be sure to take safety precautions, and always have a partner work with you.