Two questions:

  1. At a recent stop-over, a professional electrician mentioned that outlets/receptacles that are mounted in the ceiling (pointing down) are not permissible by code. The reason being that the device plug could fall out or... something, he wasn't able to elaborate.

I could not find anything in NEC 2017 (which remains nearly unchanged by our state implementation) that would support this claim. This is not a receptacle that's part of the mandate of every wall having a receptacle every X feet (those all exist separately). This is just an additional one I want to have.

Can anyone please chime in, if this is in fact allowed or not allowed per NEC 2017? Attached is a picture of how I rough-in mounted the future receptacle.

enter image description here

  1. The same electrician mentioned that zip-tying NM cables (not to replace staples but just to keep things neater together) are also a no-no. I have seen a few installations online where zip-ties are used both around the electric panel and in general, to keep multiple NM cables from fraying loosely between their properly clamped locations. I cannot see any NEC 2017 interpretations forbidding this. I do understand the "wires heating together in a spot under load" rational however, and if someone can chime in with experiencing negative effects of this, I can easily take the zip-ties off. Example picture attached.

enter image description here

  • 2
    I am not an electrician, but outlets on the ceiling is not uncommon. I have one in my garage to plug in the door opener. I have seen it in many homes.
    – Quoc Vu
    Jun 21, 2021 at 21:28
  • if you want a plug there and it's forbidden, put in a socket, then screw in a socket-to-plug adapter.
    – dandavis
    Jun 21, 2021 at 21:36
  • 2
    Note the difference between the ventilation (thus cooling) of the properly spaced red multi-cable mount and your ziptied sections. Lose the zipties. get more mounts if you have the tidy bug. Ceiling outlets face down, and plugs do not fall out of them unless they are defective. Problem with looking in code for that is "proving a negative" but it's hogwash, IME. Easiest counterexample is a standard garage door opener outlet. Utility/shop light outlets are also normal in ceilings.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jun 21, 2021 at 22:41
  • 1
    I've heard that inspectors in asking for tension relief will quote (accurately or not) 400.14 Flexible Cords and Cables "Pull at Joints and Terminals. Flexible cords and cables shall be connected to devices and to fittings so that tension is not transmitted to joints or terminals." That interpretation takes putting emphasis on the words devices and terminals. Jun 22, 2021 at 0:48
  • 1
    That's sales literature not the labeling and instructions that is approved by UL as part of the listing process (which is why 300.3b requires you to follow it). However GB lists everything so presumably they are on top of that. I am concerned whether 310.15(b)(3)(a) may still be applicable, as ThreePhaseEel discusses. I would expect UL would make them discuss that in the instructions. Jun 22, 2021 at 19:04

1 Answer 1


Receptacles in ceilings aren't an issue

Receptacles in ceilings are commonplace and a non-problem -- you can replace it with a pendant if it really bugs you, but they are commonly found in both houses (garage door openers) and commercial occupancies (projectors in conference rooms).

As to those bundled NM cables...

What you're seeing with the bundled NM cables is indeed a problem, as the cables are now being mutually heated by each other, and need to have their amp ratings adjusted to account for that, as per NEC 310.15(B)(3)(a). Fortunately, the adjustment doesn't become a serious issue until you get past 4 cables in a bundle or have wires larger than 10AWG involved, but it's best practice to use additional separator/stacker-type cableclamps instead of zipties for a run like the one depicted, even if it's a 3 or 4 cable run.

  • Taking a close look I think there might be 5 cables, if so he would be bumped down to 15A (50% of the 30A rating of 12/2 90°C rated NM-B). Jun 22, 2021 at 1:21
  • 1
    @NoSparksPlease -- I'm on the fence myself about whether that's 4 or 5 cables Jun 22, 2021 at 1:22
  • It's 7. I'll remove the zipties. Thank you all for your comments, thanks again ThreePhaseEel!
    – sil80
    Jun 22, 2021 at 3:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.