Remodeling a kitchen - I already have the two required 20A circuits. However, due to removing a wall to open things up, the receptacles that one of the branches serviced will no longer exist and there will be an island roughly in the same place. Apart from the island, only one wall will have countertop surfaces and those surfaces will only require three receptacles to meet code for spacing.

After a lot of searching, I can't find anything that says whether the island can be the sole point of access for one the small appliance circuits. I know there is a one receptacle requirement (I plan to put two - one at either end) and it seems like the island can extend the 20A circuit, but there's nothing that explicitly says it can be the sole provider for the whole circuit. Logically, it is a countertop surface, but it seems like NEC treats island surfaces completely separately from standard countertop surfaces in its definitions.

So, do I have to run one 20A to two countertop receptacles and then split the other 20A to one receptacle + island?

Or can I run one 20A to all three countertop receptacles and one 20A to the island?

The fridge, dishwasher, garbage disposal, and microwave all have/will have their own 15A circuits so the only concern is meeting code requirements on the 20A appliance branches.

  • 2
    I can't answer the code question but why don't you split both circuits across both locations? Circuit A to one island one wall outlet, Circuit B to one island two wall outlets. This way you have freedom to locate additional high power appliances anywhere. (Toaster oven, hot plate, tea kettle, etc.). Your way if you put a toaster against the wall your kettle has to go on the island ... which is actually a bit dangerous.
    – jay613
    Aug 17, 2021 at 19:38
  • It's a lot of extra wiring. As it stands, the one countertop circuit will stay in the same place serving the same receptacles as before (replacing existing cabinets and countertop), the other circuit comes through the floor right where I want to put the island so it would be perfect to serve those. Splitting either or both means running them to entirely new locations 10ft away, up/down walls and under floors. I see the benefit to your suggestion and I like to overbuild things but I don't see that as a concern for my appliance usage.
    – G A
    Aug 17, 2021 at 19:50
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    Do yourself a favor and don't just put the minimum required number of outlets at your countertops & island. Consider how many different countertop/island appliances you think it's ever possible to have out at one time and then multiply by 1.5 and round up. You really can never have too many outlets, but too few is a PITA. Even using 2-gang boxes and putting a pair of duplexes at every location where you'd have had a single duplex is a huge improvement (but I prefer them more evenly spread out).
    – brhans
    Aug 17, 2021 at 22:04

1 Answer 1


The NEC doesn't care how the countertop circuits are apportioned

The NEC does not care how the kitchen small-appliance branch circuits are apportioned among the kitchen countertop and wall receptacles; there are some places where local Code amendments do require kitchen circuits to be evenly distributed, so you'll want to check with your AHJ (they should publish said local amendments on their website, but some folks still haven't caught up with the 21st century...) as to whether that's required.

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