Height & spacing of electrical receptacles or "outlets" FAQsL
Frequently-asked questions about the proper height, spacing, and clearance distances for electrical receptacles commonly also referred to as wall plugs or electrical outlets.
This article series gives the requirements for electrical receptacle (outlet or wall plug) spacing, height, and clearances in buildings, and how to choose, locate, and wire an electrical receptacle in a home. Electrical receptacles (also called electrical outlets or "plugs" or "sockets") are simple devices that are easy to install, but there are details to get right if you want to be safe.
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Examples of proper electrical outlet locations are shown in our sketches, courtesy of Carson Dunlop Associates (Toronto).
On 2017-04-25 by (mod) re: details of electrical receptacles required in a kitchenKami
On 2017-04-25 15:17:59.097057 by KamiHow many outlets are required above counter height on a kitchen wall (back splash) with a sink?
On 2017-03-05 23:43:23.938387 by (mod) re: leaving the un-used punch-outs in an electrical box in placeJim
On 2017-03-05 17:58:01.370099 by JimDo the punch outs on the back of the outlet boxes have to be broken off completely or do they stay in to pass code
On 2017-01-29 18:52:10.195828 by RandyHI: I'm installing an outside outlet to supply power to a fountain. The wire will be run in conduit 18" below the surface, at the vertical point, a second pipe will be run to support the waterproof box, both set in concrete. Is the 6 1/2" minimum clearance above grade level for a box installed on the side of the house the same minimum height for the outlet on a free standing outlet?
On 2017-01-27 21:54:27.937898 by TannerIs there a measurement requirement for receptacles when furing out basement concrete walls. Is the minimum 4" from concrete?
On 2016-11-30 03:55:48.953566 by (mod) re: overcurrent protection for service entry wiringChris I don't understand your situation,
On 2016-11-29 23:13:35.779051 by chrisDo I need a shut off switch at the pole with the meter. can I use treated plywood for backing on meter.
On 2016-11-26 22:07:08.285158 by MarkAs per your conversation about ground prong up or down. I prefer to have the ground prong up for the simple reason, if the plug works its way out it is not hanging by just the ground prong but rather the two "active" lines. How many extension cords have you seen with the ground prong broken off. Ever since I went to ground up, my cords don't seem to lose their ground prongs. Go figure.
On 2016-10-19 15:16:54.403639 by DavidHeight of indoor receptacle
On 2016-10-10 18:03:53.737350 by alfredWhat is the minimum distance between GFI outlet from a kitchen sink.
On 2016-09-18 18:28:41.267526 by (mod)Dennis,
On 2016-09-18 17:41:04.832121 by DennisI am installing electric hydrostatic baseboard heaters, which they do not get hot enough to damage or burn anything. how far offset must the outlets be from the side of the heater? im on a limited budget, and the last thing I need is to fail inspection.
On 2016-08-26 02:30:32.599630 by DorisCan electrical outlets be installed below the bathroom mirror.
On 2016-06-29 16:20:21.101555 by JameyThank you. I'll go with a weather proof box.
On 2016-06-28 21:16:32.090072 by (mod) re: reqirement to protect electrical wiring and devices from water from a shower
Jamey, see some basics at
in the U.S. 1997 NEC Section 18 "Switchgear and Metal-Enclosed Bus" we find the following (excerpting)\
180. Switchgear Assemblies
A. General Requirements for All Switchgear
3. Piping containing liquids, or corrosive or hazardous gases, shall not be routed in the vicinity of switchgear unless suitable barriers are installed to protect the switchgear from damage in the event of a pipe failure.
If you have concern that your installation trips over advice such as the above, you could install weatherproof electrical boxes to contain all of the nearby wiring; that would add protection should a plumbing leak occur nearby.
ELECTRICAL WIRE CLEARANCE DISTANCES is your reference. But I note there are no notes about wired distances to plumbing; Plumbing is discussed under different topics such as rules about grounding ("Water systems with non-metallic non-current-carrying pipe or insulating joints are not suitable for use as grounding electrodes")
2008 NFPA 70 110.26 does not explicitly address your question about electrical wire distance to plumbing pipes
F Dedicated Equipment Space. All switchboards, panelboards, distribution boards, and motor control centers shall be located in dedicated spaces and protected from damage.
Exception: Control equipment that by its very nature or because of other rules of the Code must be adjacent to or within sight of its operating machinery shall be permitted in those locations.
1 Indoor. Indoor installations shall comply with 110.26(F)(1)(a) through (F)(1)(d).
(a)Dedicated Electrical Space. The space equal to the width and depth of the equipment and extending from the floor to a height of 1.8 m (6 ft) above the equipment or to the structural ceiling, whichever is lower, shall be dedicated to the electrical installation. No piping, ducts, leak protection apparatus, or other equipment foreign to the electrical installation shall be located in this zone.
Exception: Suspended ceilings with removable panels shall be permitted within the 1.8-m (6-ft) zone.
(b)Foreign Systems. The area above the dedicated space required by 110.26(F)(1)(a) shall be permitted to contain foreign systems, provided protection is installed to avoid damage to the electrical equipment from condensation, leaks, or breaks in such foreign systems.
(c)Sprinkler Protection. Sprinkler protection shall be permitted for the dedicated space where the piping complies with this section.
(d)Suspended Ceilings. A dropped, suspended, or similar ceiling that does not add strength to the building structure shall not be considered a structural ceiling.
On 2016-06-27 18:12:09.583244 by Jamey
We are renovating a shower adding a new shower head in addition to the existing hand held. The stud/framing to install the drop ear elbow for the new shower arm is two feet above the inside of an electric switch box.
The switch is on the outside wall of the shower that services the light/fan inside the shower. That wall with the electric and plumbing is only 26 inches wide with the mixer valve, the new diverter and new copper tubing up to the shower ell. Is this a bad idea, not code, or is it okay.
If there's a leak at the shower arm joints the water could get into the switch box. That doesn't sound like a good idea to me. Any suggestions would be appreciated. I'm very limited on the location of the new shower head since there are 2 outside walls and this 26 inch wall.
Originally, the mixer valve was installed 6 inches away from and about the same height as the inside of the switch box in that wall. How should this be configured?
On 2016-04-28 00:11:40.761410 by AnonymousGround outlet hole ontop or on bottom? Is it a Minnesota code to have it one way or another?
On 2015-11-23 14:13:37.507563 by (mod)Thank you anon. I'll take another look at the article above. It's long been the case that two views of the 12' o.c. spacing for receptacles can also be stated as equal to "nowhere are we more than 6 ft. from an electrical receptacle" since that's what 12' o.c. also provides.
On 2015-11-19 21:48:01.548858 by Anonymousyou have errors in here, the code spacing for residential is 12' o.c., not more than 6' from the end of a door/opening/fireplace/etc
On 2015-11-18 14:18:46.328066 by (mod)Thanks for the comment, Shane.
On 2015-11-18 01:09:52.509935 by ShaneIn canada there is a code that states receptacles must be with ground up if covered with a medal cover as in a garage. This rule use to apply to all receptacles. It is often(never not passed) missed during inspections. It appears more pleasing to the eye with ground down.
On 2015-11-07 02:40:17.640799 by (mod)
Sorry you think sucky Herb.
Whenever I have found trouble printing the full text of an online article from a web page I have always also found that the error was on my end in not correctly telling my browser how to print the page.
Take a look at http://inspectapedia.com/Admin/How_to_Print_Web_Pages.php
you'll see that ANY web page may print ugly depending on browser settings or how you're printing. But you can also print the entire page, all contents by taking just a moment. Happily there are dozens of free solutions that work very well.
Maybe you'll feel more charitable and use less ugly language if you try out one of the free web page formatter-printers such as at
On 2015-11-04 17:05:54.118613 by herbthis article sucks.when printed, you can not read the complete article.
On 2015-09-25 00:51:41.704578 by DanielYes but it has to meet all electrical code specs on GFCI, clearance distances, etc.
On 2015-09-25 00:20:08.031063 by DougCan I install an electrical outlet on a bathroom mirror frame?
On 2015-09-16 00:44:06.185459 by ChrisI'm adding a kitchen island to our room and need to cut into our slab to bring wires to it.
On 2015-08-10 16:04:51.145691 by (mod)Thank you for the question, Jay.
On 2015-08-10 15:27:34.542817 by JayI looked at the page - http://inspectapedia.com/electric/Electrical_Outlet_Height.php
On 2015-08-02 19:36:21.021651 by (mod)Thanks for the suggestion, John, I've included it along with a detailed reply in the article above.
On 2015-08-01 22:44:49.048869 by JohnOur electricians at work told me that they prefer to install the outlets with the ground conductor up because it reduces the chances of a metal object (i.e. paperclip) falling off of a desk and landing between the neutral and phase conductor. With the ground conductor up, there is a better chance of such an object getting deflected or falling between the neutral and ground, which would be safer than falling between the neutral and phase conductor. Although there is still a chance that an object might fall between ground and phase, it would be less likely than if the ground conductor was down. Because a typical 3-conductor plug is triangle in shape, an object is more likely to be deflected falling on the ground side than the phase / neutral side.
When running wire for a basement, is there a min height the wires must be off the ground? Not the outlet box, but the wire running through the joists. Justin Sheppard
No, Justin. But if there is the slightest danger that wires will be nicked by someone driving a nail into a stud though which the wires are run be sure to use steel plates to protect the wire where it passes through the studs. Simple nail plates are available at any building supplier.
putting in more than outlet on along a 12ft wall - Mike Tucker
Mike, if your comment is a question of how to put in more than one outlet along a 12 foot wall, yes it's perfectly permitted to exceed the minimum number of receptacles along a wall.
The wiring system is unchanged except that in some cases I recommend installing two different circuits and alternating which outlet is served by which circuit. That avoids overloading one circuit if you are plugging in lots of devices in one area.
I was looking at some height requirements on electrical outlets this is a very informational site.
thanks Jerm 4/19/12
Jerm, in the article above at ELECTRICAL RECEPTACLE HEIGHT & CLEARANCES we give the data you want. Let me know if anything is unclear.
I would like to wire in an outlet on the same wall where there is currently a light switch. Can I run wires from the light switch to power the outlet?The light switch is a 2 way switch. thank you. - Marv Walker 7/10/12
Well yes, maybe, sort-of.
Because a light switch is indeed switching a hot wire to the light, you've got power at the switch location. But depending on how the building is wired, you may not have an acceptable neutral wire, and in some still older circuits you may not have a safe ground wire.
Provided that you know how to work on electrical wiring without getting killed by electrocution, you (or your electrician) will open the switch box, carefully pull the switch assembly out enough to inspect for additional wires that may be present, and then use a VOM or DMM or even a simple neon tester to determine what wires are present.
To add a receptacle you need a proper hot, neutral and ground wire.
Watch out: if the "hot" wire in your light switch is on a 3-way circuit you may not always have power at your add-on receptacle.
I am running a new 15A outlet into the back of a bookcase in a 50 year old house with updated electrical. The wire runs out the back of the retrofit box and down through the concrete foundation into the crawlspace to a wire I plan to splice into. Do I need to put armor around the wire run through the foundation? It goes through open air for about 2 feet and there is no way to secure it to anything.
Tom - 7/19/12
You need to look at the type and rating of the electrical wire to determine if it is permitted to bury it in concrete or not.
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Also see ELECTRIC BASEBOARD HEAT INSTALL for discussion of clearances from electrical receptacles
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