I am looking at the electrical code and see a couple things that read a bit... vague, or perhaps not quite easily interpreted.

Any wall greater than 2' wide must have an outlet

Does this mean even if the wall is within the 12' of an outlet that it still needs its own outlet? Picture a kid's bedroom with a 4' bifold closet door and 3' entry door on the same wall and the bedroom is 12' wide with both doors there. This leaves ~ 5' of wall space divided into three chunks. If two of those wall slices are 2' 1" and one wall is only 10" then does that mean the two wall slices that are > 2' need outlets? Does this rule trump the 12' distance between two outlets?

So if you have a door, 2' 1" of wall space to the right of it, corner, then another wall tying into that one with an outlet 6' down the wall?

Receptacle outlets must be no more than 6' away from any point of habitable wall space but can be 12' apart if the wall has no breaks in it

Does this just mean as long as there's not a knee wall bumping out our a bump in/out of the in the exterior wall that 12' of wall space is okay between outlets, counting wrapping around the corner so an outlet would be 9' from the corner and the next outlet needs to be 3' away from that same corner?

  • the "wall" spans a corner. a receptacle within 3' 11" of the corner on the other wall serves the 2' 1" wall.
    – Skaperen
    Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 20:28

2 Answers 2


Think of the rule a different way.

Assume appliances have 6 foot long cords. It must be possible to place an appliance anywhere along the wall, cord hugging the wall, without needing an extension cord. You can't drape extension cords across thresholds or doorways. Wall sections narrower than 2' are exempt.


I'm not sure about the corner part - someone who knows the code far better than I do can answer that.

But the basic premise of the other parts is:

  • Extension cords are bad, so have receptacles within distance of a standard appliance cord.

Extension cords are: (a) a tripping hazard, (b) get worn out but used anyway, (c) are often undersized for the actual load, (d) are not always securely connected to other cords or to the receptacle.

Therefore, no wall location should be more than 6' away from a receptacle. Which means a 12' wall could have one exactly in the middle or two separate receptacles, and a wall longer than 12' needs at least one every 12' feet.

  • The one thing worse than extension cords is cords in front of a doorway

Cords in front of a doorway are likely to be tripped over by a guest or even by the owner in the dark in the middle of the night on the way to the bathroom, etc.

Obviously there has to be a limit, which is currently 2' - anything smaller - e.g., a little 1' short section next to a door - doesn't need to have any receptacles (but it can if you want to). Personally, I think this is a huge improvement over older houses that have far too few receptacles to comfortably plug in all our modern 120V devices - cell phone chargers, laptop computers, etc.

Note that you can have many receptacles on one circuit - and as long as you are not plugging in high current items like heaters, hair dryers, toasters, etc. you can have a LOT of receptacles on one circuit. Which is why bathrooms and kitchens have additional rules regarding the number of circuits. But that does not apply to other areas of the house.

  • Some of us have modern devices at 230V... those same cell phone chargers etc.
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 20:48

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