I need to mount a receptacle on a basement wall. If I can mount it high enough, it can go on the wood cripple wall instead of having to drill into the concrete and risk the excellent watertightness of the basement.

How high can the receptacle be placed and still count for the "within 6' of any point on the wall" requirement? While we're here, since it's related, what's the lowest allowable position?

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    Remember you can glue wood to concrete – Walker Dec 17 '19 at 11:40
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    If the walls are concrete, the basement is unfinished. If it is unfinished, there are no requirements for outlets to be present at all at regular spacings as they are in habitable areas. You can put an outlet wherever you want on such a wall, but it must be GFCI protected. If you do finish the basement, you will have proper studded walls (or furring and sheathing, etc) put up so you wouldn't need to drill into concrete to install a receptacle at that point. – J... Dec 17 '19 at 15:54
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    Also, when you talk about "drilling into concrete" I presume you're not talking about carving a niche into the concrete to embed a device box, but that you're concerned even about putting a few screws in to support a surface-mounted conduit and box like this - is this the case? Because a surface mounted box like that, while it does need drilling into the concrete, should be absolutely no concern for leaks unless the basement concrete is in some sort of awful, degraded condition. – J... Dec 17 '19 at 16:04
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    @J... -- the IRC def of "habitable space" says nothing about finishing or lack thereof -- a bathroom is not habitable space, nor is a finished storage room on the main floor, while an unfinished space that is being used as a guest bedroom is "habitable space" – ThreePhaseEel Dec 18 '19 at 5:32
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    @J... I've proposed an edit with a guess at the location to help people identify whether the question is relevant to them or not. – Toby Speight Dec 18 '19 at 16:51

The NEC doesn't count a receptacle above 5-1/2' to satisfy the requirement -

210.52(4) Located more than 1.7 m (51⁄2 ft) above the floor

The NEC doesn't have a lower limit for height, in fact 210.52(A)(3) allows floor receptacles within 18" of the wall to satisfy the requirement.

(3) Floor Receptacles. Receptacle outlets in floors shall not be counted as part of the required number of receptacle outlets unless located within 450 mm (18 in.) of the wall.

Now if there are any requirements for ADA accessibility, receptacles and switches must be between 15" and 48" and unobstructed.

ADA requirements

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  • I think you meant 5 1/2 feet, not (51/2) feet, edit is 'to short' for me to make it and suggest a change – Cinderhaze Dec 17 '19 at 16:57
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    And if you comply with ADA requirements, you also make life easier for everyone trying to reach the outlet! – Mark Stewart Dec 17 '19 at 18:49
  • What are the consequences of violating this? – Nelson Dec 18 '19 at 3:03
  • @Nelson -- getting smacked with a lawsuit by some annoyed dude(ette) in a wheelchair/... – ThreePhaseEel Dec 18 '19 at 5:26
  • @Nelson - in the US the ADA - Americans with Disabilities Act - requires certain things, such as these switch and outlet placements, to make buildings more usable for more people. It's a federal law and it does not apply to all buildings. However architects may specify ADA-compliant design for a building or space, even though it's not legally required. Many people are incorporating the some of the same considerations into their homes. – batsplatsterson Dec 18 '19 at 13:09

From the floor to 5½'

The answer to your question is 5½', as per NEC 210.52 point 4:

210.52 Dwelling Unit Receptacle Outlets. This section provides requirements for 125-volt, 15- and 20-ampere receptacle outlets. The receptacles required by this section shall be in addition to any receptacle that is:

(1) Part of a luminaire or appliance, or

(2) Controlled by a wall switch in accordance with 210.70(A)(1), Exception No. 1, or

(3) Located within cabinets or cupboards, or

(4) Located more than 1.7 m (5½ ft) above the floor

As to your bonus question, a receptacle can be as low on the wall as you wish; in fact, it can even be a floor receptacle in a floor box and still count for this, as long as it is within 18" of the wall, as per NEC 250.52(A)(3):

(3) Floor Receptacles. Receptacle outlets in or on floors shall not be counted as part of the required number of receptacle outlets unless located within 450 mm (18 in.) of the wall.

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    Should we tell him about GFCI protection? LOL. – JACK Dec 17 '19 at 3:00
  • As fo the lowest, they can be IN the floor (and frequently are for large open spaces without walls, at least where inspectors still hold to the idea that there should be one within 6 feet...) – Ecnerwal Dec 17 '19 at 3:16
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    So that must be why "switch controlled receptacle" is usually only 1 of the 2 in a duplex - if both were switched then another receptacle would be needed for 210.52. – manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact Dec 17 '19 at 4:22

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