I have been digging around on the internet and NEC code but I am having trouble finding this. Is it allowed by code to install upward facing outlets flush into a kitchen island countertop? I am guessing no but I am hoping to get confirmation regardless. I am redoing my kitchen and trying to decide where to put the outlets on the kitchen island. I know the code for standard countertop space. 48", GFCI, tamper resistant, etc. But the island seems to function differently as far as the code is concerned.

I did find this in 406.5(E):

(E) Receptacles in Countertops and Similar Work Surfaces. Receptacles, unless listed as receptacle assemblies for countertop applications, shall not be installed in a face-up position in countertops or similar work surfaces.

Where receptacle assemblies for countertop applications are required to provide ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection for personnel in accordance with 210.8, such assemblies shall be permitted to be listed as GFCI receptacle assemblies for countertop applications.

But this seems to be talking about actual kitchen counters and not the island so I am not sure if it applies.

2 Answers 2


The countertop issue has changed recently in the NEC code, so you need to find out which version is applicable for your jurisdiction (assuming you are subject to the NEC at all). In version 2011 and prior it was not permitted to install any face-up receptacles in an counter. Starting in 2014 (and the brand new 2017), you may install a receptacle in a counter only if it is specifically designed and listed for that application. (E.g. at random, this countertop pop-up receptacle).

The NEC does treat kitchen islands differently than regular countertop and peninsulas. You are required to have at least one receptacle. Normally outlets are required to be above the counter but for islands you are permitted to install the outlet below the counter (not more than 12" below), and there must be less than 6" overhang at that spot.

So if you are subject to NEC 2014 you could go with a pop-up receptacle. If you are on 2011 or older you must put one in the side somewhere. Under no circumstances are you allowed to install a regular outlet face-up.

  • I am currently on NEC 2014, I think the roadmap for adopting 2017 is more than a year away. Sorry for not mentioning that in OP. Thank you for the information though!
    – OCPik4chu
    Feb 23, 2017 at 19:12
  • Alsow would these be acceptable if hard wired as another option? They are technically power strips i think but if they were hard wired would they be compliant? (for an island countertop) houzz.com/photos/18374585/…
    – OCPik4chu
    Feb 23, 2017 at 19:36
  • @OCPik4chu -- you'd need to check to see if that's even allowed for permanent wiring, and that's done by checking what it's listed as -- something UL listed as a "portable power tap" cannot be used in permanent wiring, while something identical-looking that's UL listed as a "multi-outlet assembly" can be wired in permanently. Feb 23, 2017 at 23:25
  • @ThreePhaseEel - ok that makes sense, so basically if it is UL listed as permanent power then I could use that strip as well since its not facing directly up, etc. I browse around to see if they have one and see.
    – OCPik4chu
    Feb 24, 2017 at 15:20

Yes, an island or peninsula is treated differently with regard to receptacle spacing, but it is still a countertop. So no, you cannot have a receptacle facing up. A pop-up or similar is certainly allowed since generally they are not facing directly up.

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