Building a House: Where to Put Electrical Outlets
A situation many homeowners face every day is not having enough closet space. The same is true when it comes to electrical outlets. No matter how many outlets are placed in the home, it seems there are never enough or they're not located in an easily accessible location once the furniture is put in place.
Installing Electrical Outlets
First and foremost, while laying out the plans for a new room, sketch out the floor plan to include the location of the furniture or equipment that will be housed in each room.
Permit and Electrical Code Requirements
If you’re in the process of having a new room built, any required permit and/or inspection for electrical work completed by a licensed electrician tops the list of things to do. Check with the building code office of your city to find out what’s required prior to having any electrical work started.
An inspection by a city, state, or county official, whichever is applicable to your location, ensures the work complies with city building codes as well as National Electrical Codes (NEC). The NEC outlines the spacing requirements for electrical outlet installation. For example, an electrical outlet can be placed between 12 and 16 inches from the floor.
Things to Consider
There are several things to consider with the installation of electrical outlets. The electrician will discuss with you where you want outlets installed and how many are needed to address the following issues.
- Know how many receptacles can be placed on a 20-amp circuit.
- Carefully spread the load by distributing the power consumption evenly among all breakers housed in the electric panel/fuse box.
- Avoid overloads by knowing what will plug into each outlet, so the power draw on the circuit does not exceed 16 amps.
Placing Electrical Outlets
In most rooms such as the living room, dining room, and bedroom, outlets are placed along the floor line several inches above the floor per specifications available in the NEC website. Outlets are also generally placed not more than six feet apart. This is to support safety in the home by avoiding the use of extension cords.
When designing a home office, the placement of the outlets is as important as the location. Unlike the other rooms where outlets near the floor work efficiently, in a home office environment, you’ll most likely have a desk and other work stands for printers or extra computer equipment. You don't want the difficulty of crawling under a desk or trying to reach behind it to plug in devices.
To avoid this situation, have the electrician install electrical outlets slightly above the top of the desk and printer stands for easy access. If your plans include a wall-mounted TV, have the electrician install an outlet in the application location where the TV will be located.
The kitchen is one room where you’ll want extra outlets for a variety of items such as small appliances or under-cabinet LED lighting. Consider having higher amperage plugs placed in extra locations for future use of a microwave, or if you decide to change the location of your refrigerator.
In the bathroom, kitchen, or any room with access to water, the electrician must use GFI rated plugs for safety purposes. Like the kitchen, have the outlets placed in convenient locations that do not place the cords anywhere near running or standing water.
Garage or Laundry Room
Like the other areas furnished with heavy living room or bedroom furniture, you don’t want to have to move bulky pieces in the garage or laundry room to reach an outlet. Have the outlets installed in easy to reach locations above the top of the unit versus along the floor for washers and dryers.
For use of tools and equipment in a garage, place as many outlets as the circuit box can safely handle along the wall. This makes the use of electric tools, wet/dry vacuums, and air compressors easy.
Safety combined with convenience and easy access are the steps to consider when choosing electrical outlet locations. Discuss all options with the electrician to ensure each step meets the requirements.