Under cabinet outlets?

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by rgonyer, Apr 1, 2009.

  1. rgonyer

    rgonyer New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Okay, here's my dilema.

    Currently we are putting new cabinets in our kitchen. We are going to put a nice stone backsplash in afterwards. I didn't like the idea of having my outlets in the backsplash for looks reasons. (I'm kinda picky that way, we're using nice tile and I'd rather see more of that).

    Anyway, some internet searching revealed that a lot of people will surface mount wiremold boxes underneath. Also some have done the plug mold (long strips). Also, Hubbel has some new nice looking surface mount angled boxes designed just for this purpose: (http://hutt-online.com/osc/gfci-under-cabinet-p-2117.html)

    I'm an electrical engineer. I do a lot of controls/PLC type of work so I am familiar with reading the NEC but I am no expert on the residential stuff. From what I can determine, outlets can be mounted in any way as long as they are no further than 20" from the top of the counter top. In fact, after doing some digging on line, the value was changed from 18" to 20" so people could mount things under the cabinet.

    My question comes in here: I contacted our local inspector and asked him my question. He said if it's in the back splash it has to be 20" or less from the counter, but if it's under the cabinet, it can be no more than 12" from the counter. This makes no sense, and I'm wondering if he thought I was asking if I could put them in the lower cabinet. I didn't call him back yet because I thought I would see if I could find more information and a better way to explain it to him over the phone first.

    Does anyone know of any issues with doing this? Is it possible that some local nonsense random code trumps the NEC? I know it might look a little funny with cords hanging down from under the cabinets, but the only thing we leave plugged in full time is the coffee maker. Everything else is unplugged and put away when not in use.

    Any advice appreciated
    Thanks, Robb
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,126
    Location:
    New England
    Another possibility is to have these people make some plates for you www.stonewallplates.com. They can faux finish the outlets and switches to match, too. There are other suppliers out there that can do similar things.
  3. rgonyer

    rgonyer New Member

    Messages:
    7
    That's my backup backup plan... ;-) But we would REALLY like them to be under the cabinet if at all possible...
  4. drick

    drick In the Trades

    Messages:
    392
    The 12" rule applies to placing the outlet in the lower cabinet below the counter.

    Sorry I don't know for sure that placing them under the top cabinets is legal or not. What I can tell you is that the distance from my countertop to the bottom of my top cabinets is 18 inches so it would seem legal in my kitchen.

    Get your inspector to agree before proceeding though.

    -rick
  5. GabeS

    GabeS Remodel Contractor

    Messages:
    294
    Location:
    Brooklyn NY
    It would be pretty hard to plug things in. You would have to bend and twist your body so much to see what you are doing.

    Also, if you have a coffee maker or toaster on the counter, you are going to have the cord going up to the bottom of the cabinet. That will look much uglier than just having the outlet on the backsplash, which looks normal because every house is like that.

    Under cabinet lighting: yes
    Under cabinet outlets: I say no.
  6. thassler

    thassler New Member

    Messages:
    106
    Location:
    Tennessee
    These might be an option for you:?

    http://www.tasklighting.com/ap/angle-strip.htm

    I'm using two of them on my kitchen island. They land between the top of the backsplash and bottom of the bartop. I wanted to keep the bartop as low as possible. They're UL listed - my inspector ok'd them but you could tell it was the first time he'd been asked about them.
  7. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,540
    Location:
    North Carolina
    not more than 20 inches up and not more than 12 inches down

    210.52(C)(5) Receptacle Outlet Location. Receptacle outlets shall be located above, but not more than 500 mm (20 in.) above, the countertop. Receptacle outlets rendered not readily accessible by appliances fastened in place, appliance garages, sinks, or rangetops as covered in 210.52(C)(1), Exception, or appliances occupying dedicated space shall not be considered as these required outlets.

    Exception to (5): To comply with the conditions specified in (1) or (2), receptacle outlets shall be permitted to be mounted not more than 300 mm (12 in.) below the countertop. Receptacles mounted below a countertop in accordance with this exception shall not be located where the countertop extends more than 150 mm (6 in.) beyond its support base.
    (1) Construction for the physically impaired
    (2) On island and peninsular countertops where the countertop is flat across its entire surface (no backsplashes, dividers, etc.) and there are no means to mount a receptacle within 500 mm (20 in.) above the countertop, such as an overhead cabinet
  8. rgonyer

    rgonyer New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Those look very interesting... I might have to check into them. It says you can specificy left or right hand wire entry. How did you handle that? The romex cannot be exposed so did you come out the back somehow?
  9. thassler

    thassler New Member

    Messages:
    106
    Location:
    Tennessee
    Yes, the wire entry is on the back (left or right side). It just amounts to a knockout for a 3/4 cable clamp. I still have two I haven't installed. I could attach some pics if you need more detail.
  10. rgonyer

    rgonyer New Member

    Messages:
    7
    I can understand what you're saying about the knock outs. I'd love to see some pictures of the ones you have installed though... if you have time!
  11. thassler

    thassler New Member

    Messages:
    106
    Location:
    Tennessee
  12. rgonyer

    rgonyer New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Very nice, thanks for the link!
  13. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,797
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    outlets

    Just be sure the box you use can accomdate a GFCI outlet, since they are larger than a conventional duplex receptacle, unless you can feed them from a remote GFCI.
  14. thassler

    thassler New Member

    Messages:
    106
    Location:
    Tennessee
    Yes - very good point I failed to include. These are not GFCIs and must be protected by an upstream GFCI device.
  15. rgonyer

    rgonyer New Member

    Messages:
    7
    I wound up going with some hubbell boxes, RU170W. Pretty nice actually. I had planned to have the GFCI breakers in my box feeding my outlets, but I can't since the house was originally wired to share neutrals in a 12/3 for most circuits....
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