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What is code for bathroom receptacle outlet spacing?
Wednesday, August 22, 2018
The minimum requirement is one receptacle within three feet of each sink on an adjacent wall, or inside or on the face of the sink cabinet not more than 12 inches below countertop [NEC 210.52(D)]. Additional receptacles are not required, but no receptacle can be placed within or directly over a shower or tub.
There are two circumstances where we find no receptacle near a bathroom sink as required. The first occurs in older houses that originally had a small, single receptacle built into the bottom of the light fixture above the sink. Those type fixtures are no longer available so, when the light is replaced, there’s no receptacle anymore. Here’s a pic of one of the mid-20th century light/receptacle combinations.
Also, the receptacle requirement sometimes gets forgotten in a handyman bathroom remodeling. Here’s an elegant double-sink bathroom remodel we saw recently with no receptacle anywhere near the sinks.
Bathroom receptacles have also been required to have GFCI shock protection for about the past 30 years. The GFCI-device may be located at the center of the receptacle, at a receptacle in an adjacent room, or in a breaker in the electric panel.
Placement of a receptacle directly behind a bathroom sink, as in the photo below, is not recommended because of the potential for an electrical cord to fall in the sink when it is full of water.
Different standards apply to closets, hallways, foyers, kitchen, garage, or outdoor receptacles. See our blog posts How far apart should electric receptacles be spaced in a bathroom? and What is the code requirement for receptacle outlets in a closet? and How many electrical receptacle outlets are required in a hallway? and How far apart should kitchen counter receptacles be spaced? and How far apart should electric receptacle outlets be placed in a garage? and What is the code requirement for receptacle outlets in a foyer? and Is a house required to have outdoor electric receptacle outlets?
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To learn more about electrical wiring, devices, and receptacles, see these other blog posts:
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