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How many outdoor receptacle outlets are required by code?
Monday, March 7, 2022
A minimum of two outdoor receptacles, one at the front and one at the back wall, are required by the National Electrical code [NEC 210.52(E)(1)]. This applies to single-family homes and each side of a duplex. Also, each receptacle must be readily accessible and not more than 6-1/2 feet above the the ground or walking surface.
A minimum of one exterior receptacle was originally required for new homes by the 1971 edition of the NEC, although they were already being installed much earlier due to consumer demand. The 2005 edition upped it to two receptacles. Then the 2008 NEC further expanded the requirement to include at least one receptacle within any balcony, deck, or porch that is accessible from inside the house and more than twenty square feet.
Outdoor receptacles must also be protected from moisture and rain. If the receptacle is in what the NEC calls a “damp location,” meaning that it is outdoors but under a roof so that it cannot be directly rained on, then it should have a “weatherproof” cover, which has a flap mechanism that covers the slots when it is not in use. Receptacles in a “wet location,” that are exposed to direct rain, must have a “while-in-use” cover that is able to seal out rain while a cord is plugged into it.
The primary reason for outdoor receptacle requirements is the trend towards outdoor living that began in mid-1950s with sliding glass doors opening onto a backyard patio or deck. Front porches that are more than just a covered entry area have also againbecome more popular in recent decades. The shock and trip hazards of extension cords running from inside the home proliferated along with the barbecues, pools, tiki huts, and porch furniture, so the NEC rules changed to make the it safer.
Also, see our blog posts What is code requirement for receptacle outlets at a porch, deck, or balcony? and How many outdoor receptacle outlets are required for a mobile/manufactured home? and Does code require an exterior electrical receptacle outlet near the front door of a house? and What is the minimum height for an exterior receptacle outlet?
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To learn more about electrical wiring, devices, and receptacles, see these other blog posts:
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