Where to put the required outlet by the sink?

annkathrynApril 9, 2012

I believe the code is for an outlet every 2 feet when a counter is longer than 6 feet. There's also an exception:

Exception. The receptacle outlet required for the countertop can be installed below the countertop where necessary for the physically impaired or where there is no wall space above the island or peninsular counter. The receptacle must be located not more than 12 inches below the countertop surface and it cannot extends more than 6 inches measured horizontally from the counter's edge.

In my kitchen, I'm planning on using plugmold to mount the outlets under the upper cabinets. However, I've got a space between the sink and dishwasher where there's no obvious place for an outlet. I'm planning on having the windows come down to the counter, so no wall space there.

I don't see how a Mockett pop-up outlet could work there either - not behind the sink, and not in the counter over the dishwasher.

My architect's solution is to put an outlet on the fascia in front of the sink. I'm not crazy about that at all. Should I allow that to be installed until the point we pass inspection, and then remove it?

I actually don't need any of the 3 outlets shown on my plan; the toaster is going elsewhere, and the outlets in the corner will be sufficient for my occasional use of mixer, blender and Cuisinart appliances.

Any ideas appreciated.

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The code is actually that no place on a counter run is more than 2' from a receptacle. This is different from what you posted, although I suspect you just misstated it.

Does a Sillite outlet do you any good, aesthetically speaking? It could even go, well, in the window sill.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sillite

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 7:55PM
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I would ask on the electrical forum.

I don't know if you can put an outlet in front of the sink. I wouldn't.

I'm curious why the sink is not in the middle?

Could you put an outlet between the windows?

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 8:02PM
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Are you sure that an outlet on the fascia in front of the sink meets code? Based on the dimensions in your diagram, that would mean that there is more than 4 feet between the outlet and the plug mold on the right side, which doesn't meet the code requirement of having no place on a counter run more than 2 feet from a receptacle. I know it is not over by much, but it could depend on the inspector that comes to look at your house whether it passes or not.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 8:12PM
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Thanks for your responses. I think a Sillite might be a good option, if we have room for one on the window sill. I really wanted the window to be flush with the counter though.

The sink isn't centered because, due to the configuration of the cabinets, it wasn't going to be centered anyway and so we decided to embrace the offset. Also that gives us more counter to use on the right side, and the ability to use the right casement window as a pass-through to the porch outside.

There's no space between the windows, even though it looks like there might be molding there; these are two 3-foot casement windows.

According to my architect, the outlet on the front of the sink meets code. Odd, I know. And yes, we might have to find a place for a second one somewhere between the 2 upper cabinets.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 8:20PM
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Are Sillites GFCI outlets?

I have similar layout and outlet/windows-down-to-counter issue.
A contractor I'm interviewing mentioned that I need GFCI outlets all along the sink area.
I'm thinking of using Sillites in between the 3 windows, having the smallest molding in between as possible.

Please keep me updated.
Thank you,

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 9:10PM
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For huango - remember that any outlet can be GFI protected in one of two different ways - being "downstream" from a GFCI receptacle OR by being on a circuit protected by a GFCI protected circuit breaker in the panel. Your electrician/contractor should be aware of this. Even if you don't use Sillites, there's no reason to install multiple GFCI receptacles on the same circuit - all you need is one - all the receptacles "downstream" from that first one will have GFI protection.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 10:02PM
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Amanda--I have 2 sillites in my kitchen. They are not GFI. We solved this by putting ALL the kitchen outlets downstream from a GFI outlet. I hid those in the pantry as I find them unattractive. Electrical rough inspector asked about this, nodded, and moved on. :)

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 12:14AM
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Rachiele, LLC

An additional thought... If you are using a disposer, consider an air switch in the counter. That is often an issue in a situation like yours.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 5:54AM
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I understand about the code requiring outlets arranged in a certain spacing along the counter, but why on earth would anyone want to have a near mix of electrical outlet and water? Seems like a terrible thing, even with GCFI protection. Shouldn't the sink be one of the interruptions in the countertop/spacing requirement?

What electrical need/use is there at a sink? Aside from a garbage disposal (which I can't have) and that would be hardwired, or at least plugged into an outlet under the sink and a DW which requires a special 220V circuit. What am I missing?

I just can't think of a single thing that needs to be
plugged in at the sink.


    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 9:11AM
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Most areas that have adapted the international code will require an outlet every 4 feet, so that you don't have to reach more than 2 feet to get to a plug in. Also, a sink is considered an interruption and the outlet just needs to be within 2 feet of the edge of your sink.

If you would tweek your layout slightly and put the sink under the window (even if it can't be exactly centered), you might be able to meet the 2 feet tollerances with your plug mold.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 11:00AM
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The sink space on the counter doe NOT require any receptacles.

That portion of the counter is simply not counted (or a cook top space).

The rule is that no place on the counter can be more than 24 inches from a receptacle, and it applies to any section of counter more than 12 inches wide.
All kitchen counter receptacles are required to be GFCI protected.
You can use GFCI receptacle to protect downstream plain receptacles by connecting them to the LOAD side of the GFCI receptacle.

Remember at least two 20 amp small appliance branch circuits must be used for the counter receptacles.

A few other things are allowed on these circuits (but no lighting of any kind).

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 11:04AM
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We had a similar situation and we had the electrician make an appointment with the inspector. He reviewed this problem and a few others and worked with us to resolve issue. They will work with you. You may have to pay for the meeting with the inspector, but if you have additional concerns it is worth it.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 11:09AM
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Thanks to all who have posted, this is good information.

I had a general contractor at the house today to walk through so he can give me a bid on our total renovation (WHY is it like pulling teeth to get GCs to schedule walkthoughs so they can generate a bid??? /rant) Anyway I asked him specifically about this, and he said that inspectors in my town are generally good about working with homeowners when there are tricky outlet placements. He thought that given the configuration of the sink & dishwasher, an inspector would be ok with plugmold under each of the upper cabinets, and nothing on the counter or cabinet face. He said that worst case we could create 2 finished panels for in front of the sink, stick the outlet there until the final inspection, and then remove it and put the 2nd panel in its place.

Thanks also for pointing out the air switch option. I'm not sure we really need a disposal but DH is still considering it.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 5:12PM
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Brickeye is correct: the rule for electrical outlet spacing on counters doesn't apply to the sink. Our window above the sink is 6 feet with an outlet on either side of the window so the outlets are about 7' apart. The outlets about 2' from the edges of the sink. (One is a couple of inches over 2' from the sink but the inspector didn't fuss about that.)

In your case, the plugmold on the right will be about 4' from the edge of the sink. A Mockett pop-up outlet in the back left corner of the cabinet to the right of the dishwasher would probably be close enough to 2' from the sink to satisfy an inspector.

BTW, we have an outlet on the front panel of our prep sink cabinet and find it quite a convenient place for an outlet. I often run the food processor there since the items I prepped are there and it's convenient for clean-up too. Also the waffle maker - just because it's relatively close to the table.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 2:43AM
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Thanks for the visual, cloud_swift!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 1:51PM
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