Electrical outlets inside cabinets

cathy725November 16, 2012

I did a search and didn't see this addressed. I'm trying to figure out where to place some outlets inside some cabinets. I've seen people put them in the pantry for microwaves, but I'm really wanting to move my cell phone charging station into a drawer or cabinet, but don't know where I'd want it. I'm thinking one of the end cabinets where it would be more convenient to grab things when they are charged. I've seen a few of these in design booklets. We may design our own for flexibility, though.

Any other reasons for outlets inside of cabinets?

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We have 2 receptacles in our tall pantry/utility cabinet, so 4 total outlets. We plan to use the upper one as the charging station with a surge protector/usb strip. The lower outlets are used for charging our hand/stick vac. We wanted the upper receptacle near a high shelf as to keep the electronic gadgets away from little fingers.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 12:29PM
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Don't have any answers for you but would love to know what others have done. I would love to put them in a drawer in a base cabinet, but I'm not sure if this is even possible. The way one KD described it to me is: you want a drawer where you can take all the stuff that collects on your countertop and swipe it into a drawer making it all disappear when company comes. Sounds like exactly what I need- kitchen tends to get cluttered with "stuff" of 3 kids (14, 12 and 7 year olds) and a DH. So yes I would also love to hide our phone chargers. I would place it outside of the work/prep zone.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 2:56PM
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a number of gwers have done this. maybe some will repost pics here for you. some have put them in a bathroom cab too.

I'd love a drawer to scoop misc from the counter into... but not the same drawer where I had things recharging.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 3:01PM
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Great idea about putting a receptacle in the pantry for charging.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 3:02PM
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We put outlets in our tall cabinets to use for charging our toys. On the road but will try to post soon

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 4:53PM
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It is much easier to put an outlet in a cabinet with a door than with a drawer. If you do a drawer, then that drawer is no longer removable, and the wire has to be run in BX (flexible conduit) to protect it from possibly being pinched or abraded by the drawer slides etc.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 5:03PM
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We have an outlet in a drawer

There is just a little notch in the back that the cord fits through and the cord is then powered under the sink. I believe if I needed to remove the drawer, I would just disconnect the power cord under the sink. I am very pleased w/ my in-drawer outlets, although ours are in the bathroom not the kitchen.

In the kitchen, we have a large appliance cabinet w/ outlets inside of it. The cabinet is 36" wide and holds all of our appliances. The surface they are on rolls out if desired, and the door also folds back. I absolutely love this because I did not and do not ever want anything out on my counters!

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 5:10PM
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" If you do a drawer, then that drawer is no longer removable, and the wire has to be run in BX (flexible conduit) to protect it from possibly being pinched or abraded by the drawer slides etc."
still not acceptable.

Permanent wring is not designed for repeated motion (even if stranded).

You need to find a type of cordage you can get past the AHJ.

The pic of the drawer above is a fire waiting to happen from wear on the cordage unless it is the correct type.

Like 'hard service' at least, and adequately strain relieved (both ends), with an adequate service loop, and protected from damage.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 5:56PM
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Hi - Our electrician installed an outlet and electrical strip in the top drawer of a 36" wide 4-drawer cabinet. The drawer is 3 inches deep. We (mostly) love it. We have phones, ipods, kindles, cameras and all the related wires, chargers, ear buds, batteries, etc. in the drawer. I had also planned to put my laptop and cord in the drawer, but there's no room!

The electrician installed the outlet in the cabinet, behind the drawer and screwed the strip to the back of the drawer. The cord from the strip drops behind the drawers. Unfortunately, when we plugged in several of the chargers the drawer wouldn't close. So we unscrewed the strip and velcro'd it to the center of the drawer. No problems now, but I think a 4" deep drawer would have worked better.

I know I got this idea off of gardenweb when I was planning my kitchen -- there might be some good pictures on the bathroom forum.


    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 6:09PM
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brickeyee our above drawer was in a new-home build and passed code and our building inspector was a stickler. So, they must have done something right.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 6:25PM
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there's more that can be done to base drawers than we know about yet....when I wandered into a kitchen showroom this summer while on vacation abroad, I noticed when opening some deep/wide base drawers they have them fitted with internal lights that go on when drawer is opened...kitchen design leaves no stone unturned.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 6:49PM
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Sorry, I'm with brickeye on this: I would never put an outlet in a drawer that was expected to be pulled out. I know it is often seen here and has passed inspections, but it wouldn't pass my own comfort zone as a volunteer firefighter or my DH's hard line on this as former licensed electrician. To me it's a house fire just waiting to happen.

Just because it hasn't caused a problem yet, doesn't mean it won't happen and I believe brickeye is correct that wiring is not designed for the repeated stresses inherent in being flexed hundreds/thousands of times.

The other potential issue is the long-term build-up of heat from the charging process inside the closed drawer. That could conceivably lower the ignition temp of surrounding materials enough to create a problem all by itself (Not to mention diminished life of the charger and chargee themselves.)

However, a fixed outlet inside a closed cupboard or pantry is some what different. A small risk due to its being concealed and having a longer opportunity to burn before being detected by a smoke alarm, but over-all acceptable. You could mitigate that risk by installing a smoke alarm within the cupboard.

The "charging station in a drawer" is the one cool-looking idea on GW that I wish would just go away. It makes me cringe every time I see it.



    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 9:23PM
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Yes, there are some VERY important safety considerations if you want to do this. And even then, not all AHJ's will approve it. So, ask first. And don't be surprised if your local codes office doesn't allow outlets in drawers. It is for your own safety. Wires flexed and pinched ARE a safety hazard.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 9:35AM
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live_wire_oak, what's the safety risk? Just curious. My reno is up to code. We have a power strip inside our pantry on a shelf. We use it to charge/store our phones. Love it!

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 10:11AM
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"So, they must have done something right."

Glad you are wiling to bet on that.

Make sure their s an arc fault breaker supplying that thing.

If it plugs into a receptacle it is likely not even covered by the NEC (it is not considered permanent) but still needs needs a UL listing (though rarely enforced until after the fire if they can find enough remains to tell).

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 10:18AM
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I'm on the side of safety here: Outlets in an upper cabinet? Great! Outlets on an open pantry shelf? Wonderful! Outlets inside a drawer, so that you cannot see the back portion, cannot notice that the cord is becoming frayed as it rubs against the drawer time and time again? No thanks. Not in my house.

One more reason to want an outlet in an upper cabinet: A hidden TV in the kitchen.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 10:18AM
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On a shelf, it's only the heat buildup that you need to concern yourself with. Chargers put out a lot of heat that I wouldn't want next to foodstuffs, as it will degrade their quality faster.

It's the drawer issue where you get the bigger safety hazard. Any wire, even in the sometimes code inspector accepted flexible metal conduit, that is subject to the movement of a drawer is at risk for that wire to become frayed or even broken over time. Or if someone pinches it between the drawer and glide and forces the drawer to shut on it, that can pinch the wire inside to become damaged. Just the in and out of daily life will cause the wire to bend repeatedly. Wire isn't designed to do that. Find a scrap piece of electrical wire, take off the plastic coating, and sit in front of the TV one night and repeatedly make make a sharp loop out of it and then stretch it back out. Do that enough times, and the wire will break. Do that enough times with that drawer in and out, and the wire---with actual electricity running through it---will also break. Now you're talking fire hazard.

I much prefer putting an outlet into a shallow "message center" type cabinet with a door than even thinking about putting one into a drawer. One location around here won't approve a drawer outlet at all, one will, but only in BX, and one barely inspects anything. So, just because someone in the codes office "inspected" the installation doesn't mean it's actually safe. The adherence of codes officials to actual code isn't always the highest, nor is their actual knowledge of code. I wouldn't base the safety of my home on the fact that any code inspector approved any installation.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 10:24AM
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We put outlets in the appliance garages/bays but we made them switched outlets. No need to mess with the cords or plugs but have a convenient switch to cut power to the toaster oven, blender, etc when not in use.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 1:13PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

We put one in our book case on the end of the kitchen island to use as a charging station.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 1:45PM
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"flexible metal conduit"

It is not intended for repeated and continued movement.

It is NOT cordage (and that IS designed for repeated movement).
Flex conduit is intended to be flexed ONCE, when it is installed.

Just like the CSST flex gas lines.

Shape ONCE, never move again.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 5:23PM
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saw this on pinterest

    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 6:45PM
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Remodelfla--pics did not show up.

Wow--didn't mean to stir up a hornets nest (or is that a fire ant nest :) But it's good to hear all sides of the issue and safety is important!

I decided on the message center cabinet on the end of my upper cabinets. We will have to have the GC install the power outlet/strip into the back of the cabinet. I showed him exactly what I wanted, and he seems to think it will work. I'll post pictures if it all works out. Don't hold your breath, though because it may be 6 months before we get the kitchen done!

    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 8:11PM
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yea... I see that! They were false drawer fronts on island that flipped down and exposed outlets.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 8:15PM
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I have a charging drawer in my new kitchen that was very carefully designed by our GC (my BIL) and our electrician. There is a standard outlet recessed into the wall behind the base drawer cabinet about half way down the wall, and a small cut out in the back behind the drawers. From there, we found an industrial type coiled extension cord with a flat plug that is plugged into the outlet, and then a flat power strip in the top drawer, with its cord over the back of the drawer and plugged into the extension cord.

It actually works quite well - I'll try to get a picture, or at least find the diagram that we used for the idea.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 2:08PM
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I have an outlet for my hair dryer in my bathroom cabinet.

My electrician refused to put it in the back of the drawer but (reluctantly) agreed to put it in the side of the cabinet on the inside of the drawer. The drawer sides are lower than the drawer front.

Does that make sense? Don't have a picture.

I also have an outlet in my kitchen cabinet for my stand mixer that sits on a lift so that it is plugged in all the time.

I never thought about these things being a fire hazard.

Next house, I will put them on a switch as someone above suggested.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 2:26PM
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Some great ideas here! I'm finally getting close to the start of the kitchen remodel (finally)! Cabinets have arrived and I'm waiting for the GC to give a start date (within the next week or two).

I think I'm going to err on the side of too many outlets if possible. Here's what I'm thinking:
1. Outlet in charging station cabinet
2. Outlet in microwave shelf
3. Outlet under the sink (for possible future motionsense faucet if I decide it's worth it--not doing it now)
4. Outlet or two in Pantry

I think that's all the hidden ones. I like the idea of the switched outlets since I will have an area with coffee pot, toaster, etc that it would be nice to just turn off rather than unplug everything.

I'm also trying to figure out how I can hide the phone connection. Right now it's on my backsplash area and really an eyesore. I'm trying to figure out where I can move it so it's not visible. These days with cordless phones, it seems like I don't have to have the base station sitting out on a counter.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 2:56PM
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Here are a couple of things we used for inspiration

Here is a link that might be useful: Robern electric option

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 3:12PM
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