New Room Construction: How Many Electrical Outlets?

Whether you just want to add a room onto your home or you are building an entire new home, you have to consider where to place electrical outlets. When designing a room, work with your architect to ensure that outlets are as close as possible to the electrical equipment or appliances you'll be using in the room. The National Electrical Code sets standards which directly affect the number of outlets a room categorized as a "living area" must have.

Outlet Spacing

Place electrical outlets about six feet apart in each room.

Outlets must be placed no more than 12 feet apart on each wall, according to the National Electric Code. This rule helps ensure that there are enough outlets available. Otherwise, homeowners would need to plug in extension cords to use all of their electrical appliances, which puts them at risk of tripping over the cords, overloading electrical circuits or even causing a fire.

Doorways and Fireplaces

If there is a doorway in the room, electrical outlets must be placed no more than six feet from the doorway. Similarly, if there is a fireplace or other structure in the wall, outlets must be placed no more than six feet from that structure. This is a complement to the rule about spacing between outlets. Together, they are sometimes referred to as the "6/12" rule.

Height of Wall

In most cases, electrical outlets are placed about 18 inches off the floor and the switches for the outlets are placed about 48 inches above the floor. However, outlets can be placed lower or higher if needed. The height of the wall does not affect how many outlets are placed in the room; the length of the wall and the distances from wall breaks such as doorways are the important considerations here.

Minimum Requirement

The NEC rules represent minimum requirements for location of electrical outlets. Electricians may place more outlets than the minimum in a room if desired. This decision is usually based on what the architect and the homeowner think will be needed in the room.

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