Kitchen Outlet Requirements


It may seem like kitchen electrical outlets are always in short supply. Considering most electrical appliances have short cords, it makes it even more important to have several easy-to-reach kitchen outlets placed along the outer wall of the kitchen and on the kitchen island. Some kitchen electrical outlets must be ground fault circuit interrupters, or GFCI. These kitchen GFCI outlets automatically shut down the electrical circuit if the outlet comes in contact with water.

Regular Kitchen Outlets

  • The National Electrical Code, or NEC, requires the placement of kitchen outlets any time there is counter space that has a dimension of more than 12 by 24 inches. These kitchen outlets should be on two branch circuits from the breaker box. They should carry 20 amperes on #12 electrical wiring. The NEC calls for placement of the kitchen outlets at least 2 feet from the end of the counter or the wall. They should be no higher than 18 inches above the countertop and may be mounted horizontally or vertically. Depending on the length of the countertop, the spacing of the remaining outlets shouldn't be any farther apart than 4 feet. These are minimum requirements; additional outlets may be added.

Kitchen GFCI

  • Within each of the two branch circuits, at least one of the outlets on the circuit should be a GFCI receptacle. By running the entire circuit through a GFCI, if one of the regular outlets happens to get wet, the GFCI circuit breaker still trips and kills electrical power to the outlet. If the kitchen has an island, a separate circuit branch should operate the island's GFCI and other outlets.

Appliance Outlets

  • Some kitchen outlets must be set aside to operate appliances. There should be two circuits to operate the major appliances. The refrigerator needs its own dedicated outlet, as does the range, especially if it's an electric model. Other major appliances, such as the dishwasher, garbage disposal and microwave, should also have their own outlets. Other larger appliances, such as wine coolers or standalone icemakers, need separate outlets. It's important to keep in mind the circuit's capabilities and not overload it with too many appliances. If necessary, add another circuit to carry the load.

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