Outlet in tilt-out shelf under sink

Old 10-16-10, 11:41 PM
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Outlet in tilt-out shelf under sink

What kind of code issues might I have trying to install an outlet on the back side of a tilt-out panel directly in front of the sink?

I'm doing a kitchen remodel and have a peninsula. To meet code, I have to have an outlet near the end of a peninsula. I worked out with my inspector that I can position the outlet on the side and not directly on the end (since the end faces the front entry door and putting an outlet there would be unsightly.) The problem is, even though the outlet will be right at the end, it will be underneath the counter top overhang behind a decorative counter top support. This means it will be inconvenient to use the outlet since you basically have to hang yourself upside down (or move a bar stool and squat down) to plug anything in.

I was standing at the cabinets today thinking... (the cabinets are installed but the counter top is not installed yet). We have a corner sink at the wall end of the peninsula. There is an outlet on the opposite side of the sink from the peninsula (on the exterior wall) but it will be inconvenient to use while working on the peninsula because you'd need to drape an electric cord through the sink.

So I was looking around trying to think of some other more convenient place that I might could put an outlet without mounting one in the surface of the counter. (The outlets I have described up to now are the only ones my inspector requires.) Then an idea came to me... We are not using the drawer area where there is a decorative panel in front of the sink. We had the option of installing a tilt-out tray there hinged on the bottom, but we didn't choose to do this. We're considering converting this space into a tilt-out door to allow access to an outlet behind the door.

We've got three 20A GFI protected circuits for the counter top area so running power to an outlet in this area shouldn't be a problem. The problem is exactly how to fit an outlet in this space. The sink will be very close. I'm guessing between 1" and 2" between the back of the decorative panel and the side of the sink bowl. (The sink isn't positioned and the countertop isn't measured yet so we have some flexibility for about 48 hours from when I posted this.)

The most ideal outlet position would be such that when you tilt the door open, the outlet is facing up toward the ceiling. (So you look down into it and don't have to bend over to plug anything in.) This means we need the most narrow outlet possible... and since it is facing up, I worry about someone working at the sink spilling water into the outlet when the door is open. I thought about mounting plugmold to a block and then mounting the block to the back of the door so the door only has to open a little bit and not to a full 90 degrees... but I've read posts that plugmold isn't the best idea on a 20A kitchen circuit... and I need a tamper resistant plug anyway.

Another option is to install a shallow box on the back of the door. The door would need to open full to 90 degrees to allow you to plug things in comfortably making it harder for someone to use the sink while the door is open. You would be standing an additional 6 to 8 inches away from the sink straining your back.

Both of these "mount to the door" options require stranded wire in some kind of waterproof flexible conduit I suppose... and of course either a commercial grade outlet or clamps to attach the stranded wire to the outlet.

Another option is to mount as shallow a box as possible permanently in the opening, but not to the door itself. This eliminates needing stranded wire and constant movement of the conductors, but it also would require keeping the door open most of the way because plugs would be in the way of it closing even part of the way.

What thoughts do you guys have on these ideas?
Old 10-17-10, 01:42 AM
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Basically here's the issues:

You can't have a receptacle facing up in a wet location or recessed into a countertop (406.4 [e])
You can't use standard solid or stranded THH/WN conductors in a moving assembly (can't remember reference)
You can't use FLEXIBLE cable as a substitute for permanent wiring. (400.8)

I'll defer on this because 400.8 prohibits flexible cable from being used as a substitute for fixed wiring (1) AND prohibits it from being attached to building surfaces (4), AND where it could be subject to physical damage (7) - all three apply.. However, 400.7(a)(9) allows an exception for connection of moving parts. But Im not sure if that means moving parts of a machine or if a moving drawer/door would apply.

IMO it's just a bad idea trying to hide it like that because you have all sorts of potential problems. I would install it on the end of the peninsula using a colored receptacle that is close to the cabinet finish (you can get them in basically any color, not just white and ivory), and a custom match plate. It wouldn't be the only peninsula in the world that has an outlet you can see from the front door.. What kind of cabinets are we talking here? Light wood, dark wood, or paint/veneer?
Old 10-17-10, 06:12 AM
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I agree with JM, your options for using flex cord are not an option. Can you post a couple of pics of the peninsula from different angles?
Old 10-18-10, 03:21 PM
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My wife has convinced me to scrap the idea. Mainly because she's nervous about this (for safety reasons) and she doesn't think it's worth interfering with how close to the edge of the counter top the sink can go. This outlet would get use at most once or twice a month. She says for that little usage, I can stop being lazy, can move a chair, and squat down to reach the outlet at the end of the peninsula up under the overhang.

It's a moot point, but one of the issues with mounting the outlet in the end of the peninsula is we have purchased an extra door panel to mount there so it looks like it's the front of a cabinet and not just the end of a peninsula. It would look even more odd to mount an outlet in the surface of a decorative door panel than it would just a plain end panel.
Old 10-18-10, 04:36 PM
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Not saying it is a good idea but if you hinged the panel and used a clock receptacle you could have hidden receptacle there under the door. Of course since a clock receptacle isn't isn't absolutely flat you would need to rout a recess in the back of the door for the face of it and the door couldn't be fully closed when the receptacle was in use unless you also routed a cord channel from the top down to the receptacle face recess. Just a wild idea. Best to ignore my idea.

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