Proper eletrical outlet location in bathrooms (C) Carson Dunlop AssociatesElectrical Outlet Height, Clearance, Spacing FAQs
Q&A on electrical receptacle locations, spacings, distances

InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website.

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.

Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2017, All Rights Reserved.

Q&A on Spacing, Location & Height for Electrical Receptacles (Outlets)

Proper eletrical outlet location in bathrooms (C) Carson Dunlop Associates

Examples of proper electrical outlet locations are shown in our sketches, courtesy of Carson Dunlop Associates (Toronto).

Questions & answers on electrical outlet (receptacle height) posted originally at ELECTRICAL RECEPTACLE HEIGHT & CLEARANCES now found at ELECTRICAL RECEPTACLE HEIGHT FAQs

On 2017-04-25 by (mod) re: details of electrical receptacles required in a kitchen


Let's use the California state electrical code as a model (since we don't know your country, city, province or state)

The answer will depend on the kitchen size or total horizontal wall lengths involved. Typically we want to see two separate 20A appliance circuits, with GFCI protection, but the actual number of receptacles can vary. No place along the wall should be more than 24" ft. from a receptacle.

Details, based on CA's adoption of the 2010 National Electrical Code in the U.S.

1) At least two 20-ampere branch circuits shall supply kitchen countertop receptacles.

2) Wall Counter Spaces

a) A receptacle shall be installed for any counter that is 12 inches wide or greater; and,
b) No point on the kitchen counter, measured at the wall may be more that 24 inches away from a receptacle. Also known as the 2ft. / 4ft. rule

3) Island and Peninsular Counter Spaces

a) At least one receptacle is required for an island or peninsular counter with dimensions of at least 24 inches by 12 inches;
b) An island counter with a rangetop or sink installed where the dimension behind the rangetop or sink to the edge of the counter is less than 12 inches is considered as two separate island countertops; and,
c) A peninsular countertop is measured from the connecting edge.

4) Receptacle installation

a) Maximum of 20 inches above countertop;
b) Maximum of 12 below island or peninsular countertops;
c) Island or peninsular countertops may not extend more than 6 inches beyond the cabinet housing the receptacle; and,
d) Receptacle may not be installed face-up in the countertop.

5) Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupter (GFCI) protection is required for all receptacles serving kitchen countertops, as well as pantries, breakfast rooms, dining rooms and similar areas.

6) Countertops separated by sinks, ranges, or refrigerators shall be treated as separate spaces. The wall behind the sink or cook top is not to be treated as wall space unless the distance exceeds 12 inches to the wall or 18 inches to a corner

On 2017-04-25 15:17:59.097057 by Kami

How 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 place


Normally we leave the punch-outs in place except where they must be removed to install a cable connector clamp. Leaving holes in an electrical box may in fact violate local electrical and fire codes.

On 2017-03-05 17:58:01.370099 by Jim

Do 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 Randy

HI: 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 Tanner

Is 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 wiring

Chris I don't understand your situation,
But in general, you'd want a breaker to protect the wire between pole mounted meter and building.

On 2016-11-29 23:13:35.779051 by chris

Do 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 Mark

As 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 David

Height of indoor receptacle

On 2016-10-10 18:03:53.737350 by alfred

What is the minimum distance between GFI outlet from a kitchen sink.

On 2016-09-18 18:28:41.267526 by (mod)


Please see ELECTRIC BASEBOARD HEAT INSTALL at where we repeat your question and give a detailed answer (at the article bottom) as part of our discussion of clearances from electrical receptacles

On 2016-09-18 17:41:04.832121 by Dennis

I 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 Doris

Can electrical outlets be installed below the bathroom mirror.

On 2016-06-29 16:20:21.101555 by Jamey

Thank 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 Anonymous

Ground 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 Anonymous

you 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.

I have not found a Canadian electrical code with the provision you name, so I would be very grateful for an actual code citation reference.

On 2015-11-18 01:09:52.509935 by Shane

In 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

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 herb

this article sucks.when printed, you can not read the complete article.

On 2015-09-25 00:51:41.704578 by Daniel

Yes but it has to meet all electrical code specs on GFCI, clearance distances, etc.

On 2015-09-25 00:20:08.031063 by Doug

Can I install an electrical outlet on a bathroom mirror frame?

On 2015-09-16 00:44:06.185459 by Chris

I'm adding a kitchen island to our room and need to cut into our slab to bring wires to it.
What type of wires should be sent to the two outlets and what type of conduits should I run the wires through.
PVC or metal. Is THWN or THNN the preferred wires? Can I tie those into the 12-2 or 14-2 wires to the other outlets?

On 2015-08-10 16:04:51.145691 by (mod)

Thank you for the question, Jay.

Generally the national electrical code does not specify electrical receptacle heights though you will find some recommendations for a minimum height above the interior floor for receptacles and switches in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Mike Holt's forum, a resource we often consult on electrical questions, and Redwood Kardon / Doug Hansen over at Code Check, another resource, repeatedly state that there is no NEC-given minimum height. Mike adds that "common sense would place the device above the high water mark"

There are maximum heights (with possible exceptions for special-use receptacles such as for roof edge ice dam heat tapes), tyically 6ft 6 in. Max.

At a very minimum, no outdoor receptacle cover or junction box should be in ground contact if the specific box, cover, and components are not rated for wet or buried applications. But that's a bit of a cop-out I realize.

The devices must be GFCI protected.

On 2015-08-10 15:27:34.542817 by Jay

I looked at the page -
Great info but what about for the exterior (outside a house)? What is the minimum distance from the bottom to the ground for an exterior outlet? More specifically for my case, the minimum from the bottom of a junction box (closed with waterproof gasket) to the ground. Thank you in advance, Jay - Miami, FL

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 John

Our 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.

Question: what is the minimum height that indoor house wiring must be above the ground or floor level?

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.

Question: how do I install multiple electrical outlets (receptacles) along a wall?

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.

Question: electrical outlet height requirements

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.

Question: can I add an electrical outlet on the wall where there is already a light switch?

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.

Question: armor around wire through concrete?

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.


Continue reading at ELECTRICAL RECEPTACLE HEIGHT & CLEARANCES or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.


Also see ELECTRIC BASEBOARD HEAT INSTALL for discussion of clearances from electrical receptacles

Or see these

Articles on Electrical Receptacle Wiring

Suggested citation for this web page

ELECTRICAL RECEPTACLE HEIGHT FAQs at - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.


Or use the SEARCH BOX found below to Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Click to Show or Hide FAQs

Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia

Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.

Search the InspectApedia website

Comment Box is loading comments...

Technical Reviewers & References

Click to Show or Hide Citations & References

Publisher's Google+ Page by Daniel Friedman