Is there a standard amount of outlets per room/sq ft.?

robinson622February 1, 2009

I'm trying to figure out our outlet placement, and I know the price shoots up with each added outlet.

When does it become an extra?

Thanks, Lori

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Code is that there must be an outlet within 6 feet from any given point on the wall. That means that the least you could get away with is every 12 feet along every wall. However, I would find a different place to skimp. It is a huge ordeal, and very costly, to add outlets later down the road when you realize that the code minimum isn't sufficient. Hope that helps.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 9:51PM
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Thanks arewethereyet!

Oh believe me, I'm not planning on skimping with my electrical choices. I'm actually trying to prepare myself for the overage. I think I have covered everything I could possibly want or need in our home as far as that goes. Whether the hubby thinks I need all of these "extras" is another thing. ;o)

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 11:00PM
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Requirements for receptacles are a little more detailed than every 12'. And there are exceptions where, in coordination with your electrical inspector (almost always someone other than the bldg insp), you can forego placement of a receptacle. Here are a few things based on lessons learned during my build:

- receptacles and switches should be placed at uniform heights within a room. BUT, there is no code dictating the heights. Outlet heights can be adjusted for kids and the physically handicapped.

- Have bath/kitchen cabinet layout designed first to ensure wall outlets clear countertop backsplashes and stay below wall cabinets.

- Plan for more receptacles than code requires. Code is the minimum. You can overdo it but I recommend the following: receptacle below every room wall switch, receptacles in roof eaves for Christman/party lights, exterior receptacles at each corner of house (at ground and deck levels), at least one receptacle in unfinished spaces (e.g., attics), and a ceiling outlet in every room (whether for immediate or future use).

- Code requires 20A GFCI receptacles in baths/kitchens. This requires 12ga wiring whereas 15A circuits require only 14ga wire. However, many electricians today install 12ga wiring throughout. 12ga is thicker and more expensive but is a worthwhile investment. Another option is to see if your electrician is willing to put receptacles and lights on separate circuits. Run receptacles using 12ga and lights using 14ga.

- tie your smoke/CO2 detectors to a lighting circuit used on a daily basis. This helps to quickly alert you if the breaker pops and you lose primary power to the detectors.

- don't forget to plan low voltage (CATV, computer network, telephone, etc.) outlet locations. Try to keep about 10" from electrical outlets.

- run an underground line to any building not attached to the house.

- ask about whole house surge protection at your electrical panel BUT still plan to use surge protected power strips for all your electronics.

This may seem complicated but I think receptacle layout design is much easier than lighting design. Good luck.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 12:49AM
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If you control a receptacle with a dimmer switch you must use a special receptacle and appliance plug in order to avoid the danger of dimming devices like TV's and heaters.

Smoke and CO2 detectors should be on a separate circuit so that a ground fault in other fixtures or wiring will not cause the detectors to become inoperable. The detectors should automatically alert you to loss of power.

The person you should be talking to is your project designer or electrician.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 9:35AM
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keep in mind it is better to have and not need, than need and not have! if your panel allows for it, make sure certain rooms have at LEAST 2 20A circuits for teh recpts. you would hate to install a home theater system later on and every time you turn teh lights on or plug up something it trips the breaker! (been there done that!)

to add to the above, double check with the electrical inspector. there have been threads on here about folks being required to put an outlet into a granite backsplash after the fact because teh codes dictate one every X feet.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 11:02AM
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You may want some outlets at special heights. In my laundry room, I have an outlet at a height convenient to plug in an iron. In an office area, there is an outlet above the desk to make it convenient to plug in a desk lamp.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 11:26AM
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I believe that the term 'standard amount' is of course, 'never enough' when you need them.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 12:56PM
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LOL, jasonmi! IMO, "standard amount" depends on who is defining and whether or not they are paying.

robinson622 ~
With the floor plan in front of you, and preferably a list of your furnishings: study room by room and think about [and then mark on the plan] where you may want floor lamps, desk lamps, radios/TVs, computers, telephones, and an area for recharging rechargeables. Don't forget annual usages such as Christmas tree/s and lights, or special usage such as a room fogger for a baby, or lighting for shelves and/or pictures as well outlets for shavers and hair dryers. Then go back and be sure there are outlets placed inbetween the ones you marked; my preferance is no more than 4' apart. The kitchen is a whole separate issue as it depends on your usage of small appliances and how many [if any] will be in their own garage. I don't think I've ever heard anyone say they had too many outlets in the kitchen. I prefer counter outlets to actually be just below the cabinets, maximum 12" apart, and a spacious garage that permits each appliance to be used without interfering with the others ~~ some folks use a garage only for one or two items, and some store all their gadgets in one area, while others wouldn't want anything to do with the idea. However, if you do want multiple outlets for a garage, a surge-protected strip outlet can be handy and not too expensive. I also have weatherproof outlets below (and to one side) of each sink in case light is required for a a repair -- which tells you that I've never been able to manage a flashlight and a wrench and hold whatever else all at the same time, lol.

Obviously, I'm one of those people who think outlets provide a lot of convenience for very little extra cost. Keep in mind that your primary expense is for the wiring and the labor -- and if you know what you want and don't go around changing things, it doesn't add much to put outlets at 4' instead or 8' or to have them placed where needed. BTW, a lot of folks do the multiplying (and gasp) for expensive outlet plates, but keep in mind that a plain plate from the discount house will do the job just as well as one from BigNameDesigner, and recycling used covers isn't sinful, especially in hidden locations or where they will be painted.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2009 at 10:28AM
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This weekend I took my plan and marked areas where I'd like outlets. Off the top of my head here are some places I put outlets:

bottom sides of front door for christmas lights
roof soffits for christmas lights
above kitchen cabinets
on each exterior wall
in master closet
in walk-in pantry
inside cabinet in mudroom for charging, etc.
inside cabinet in master bath and jack and jill bath
in fireplace mantle
in floor of family room
bottom of stairs for christmas lights up banister (or should the outlet be at the top landing?)
in roof of porch
below all windows for christmas lights
in storage room
on either side of bed 4 outlet plug
I heard something on this site about an outlet near the jacuzzi tub for heater??? not sure

I'm sure there's more, but I just can't think of them right now.

Any more ideas? I'm all ears.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2009 at 9:53PM
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One should be at waist-height wherever the ironing board will be. Don't forget the outlets for the washer and dryer as well as for appliances such as a freezer, wine cooler, or whatever.

If anyone is into crafts or sewing, consider extra outlets so that lamps and tools can be positioned for maximum comfort. I know one quilter who has outlets set under wall cabinets, and her floor cabinet tops actually unfold to double the usable surface; outlets are used for swingarm lamps, electric scissors, sewing machines, and irons. And there are gardeners who will want outlets available when they get into starting seeds (heat mats, sunlights, fans). Toolshops and hobbyists have their own requirements to consider.

You'll want a master switch to control all the Christmas lights; someone posted that their master was inside the MB closet. Wherever is convenient to turn them on and off -- I prefer timers.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 7:34AM
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I used to live in the "Far North." More than one builder put a switch in the MBR to control a dedicated outlet for an automobile block heater. I also saw MBR switches wired to control a coffee maker outlet in the kitchen.

If it's not already required by code, I would insist on at least two separate outlet and lighting circuits on each floor, in addition to the dedicated circuits. That way you still have lights and power on each floor if a breaker trips or has to be turned off for any reason.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 10:27AM
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