I have a 3-gang box above my kitchen counter with 3 switches:

  • One for a lighting circuit
  • One for the under-sink disposal
  • One for the dishwasher

Nobody wants a wall switch to turn off the dishwasher, so I am going to remove that switch and wire the dishwasher circuit on all the time.

I don't want to have a plate with a blank spot, so I thought I'd add another receptacle there. Changing out the box to a 2-gang isn't really an option because of the tile backsplash. Opening the box I found 3 separate circuits into the box, all 14ga wiring with neutrals, one circuit each for the lights, dishwasher, and disposal.

I do not know if there are other appliances or loads upstream or downstream on any of these circuits. The other counter receptacles in my kitchen are 12ga-20amp and GFCI protected, but none of those circuits enter this box.

Which of the three circuits in this box should I use for the new receptacle? I am assuming I will have to get a GFCI receptacle if the circuit I pick is not protected at the breaker or upstream.

  • Do you have any plans for undercabinet lighting? Or is that something you've already either taken care of, or rejected? Aug 22, 2021 at 12:33
  • 1
    Dishwashers can start fire hazards, even if not in use. Most domestic fires start in kitchen via electric devices. A search with "fire hazard dishwasher" will yield many results. Never leave the home when a dishwasher or washing machine or dryer is working. The switch for the dishwasher should not be removed.
    – xeeka
    Aug 22, 2021 at 12:53
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    @ThreePhaseEel I have a switch for under cabinet lights driven by another circuit in a different box.
    – bigchief
    Aug 22, 2021 at 12:56
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    Do you have neutrals in that box or just wires going to and from the switches, switch loops.
    – JACK
    Aug 22, 2021 at 13:02
  • 1
    @Jack Edited the question to include all 3 circuits have neutrals. Thanks
    – bigchief
    Aug 22, 2021 at 13:15

3 Answers 3


You can't.

Any circuit which serves kitchen receptacles must serve only kitchen receptacles, or a gas stove, or a clock. No other uses are allowed.

Any circuit which serves kitchen receptacles must also be 20A.

There may also be a code violation in removing the dishwasher switch.

What you could do, instead, is replace the dishwasher switch with a GFCI Deadfront that is switch-rated. It will still be the (possibly mandatory) dishwasher switch, but it will have a user-interface that says "safety equipment" and not "switch to throw accidentally all the darn time".

And hey, GFCI protection on a dishwasher is never a bad thing.

  • This is very helpful. It answers my question of which circuit is best - none of the above (I suspected there was probably a compliance issue with my plan) and it gave a helpful alternative of using a GFCI deadfront, which I didn't think of, but I like because it solves my two problems of turning off the dishwasher accidentally when operating the disposal and not having a blank over part of the box which leaves people like me wondering what was removed. And still allows shutting off the dishwasher circuit for service.
    – bigchief
    Aug 23, 2021 at 2:27

You should look harder to locate a blank, or maybe a switch filler like a Leviton 80700. A 15A circuit feeding a kitchen countertop receptacle would be an NEC violation.

2020 NEC 210.52(B) Small Appliances.

(1) Receptacle Outlets Served. In the kitchen, pantry, breakfast room, dining room, or similar area of a dwelling unit, the two or more 20-ampere small-appliance branch circuits required by 210.11(C)(1) shall serve all wall and floor receptacle outlets covered by 210.52(A), all countertop outlets covered by 210.52(C), and receptacle outlets for refrigeration equipment.

Exception No. 1: In addition to the required receptacles specified by 210.52, switched receptacles supplied from a general-purpose branch circuit as defined in 210.70(A)(1), Exception No. 1, shall be permitted.

Exception No. 2: In addition to the required receptacles specified by 210.52, a receptacle outlet to serve a specific appliance shall be permitted to be supplied from an individual branch circuit rated 15 amperes or greater.

(2) No Other Outlets. The two or more small-appliance branch circuits specified in 210.52(B)(1) shall have no other outlets.

The switch was likely provided to supply a required servicing disconnect (NEC 422.31). If a plug and receptacle is not provided in the cabinet next to the dishwasher for a disconnect you may need to permanently install a breaker lock-off device in the panel if the panel is not within sight.

  • For clarity "outlet" is any connection point of equipment, including hardwired connections like lights. A "receptacle" is a type of outlet. Ex No. 1 allows receptacles for required lighting outlets. Aug 22, 2021 at 15:30
  • Can exception #2 be met if the new outlet is anointed as specifically for a rechargeable pot scrubber? What is the determination for Exception 2, does the specific appliance have to be installed at the time of inspection?
    – jay613
    Aug 22, 2021 at 16:24
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    @jay613 "Branch circuit, Individual" is defined in article 100 as feeding one piece of equipment, and an inspector could require installation before permit final. So as already specified as installed in the OP the code writers already eliminated your phantom appliance. Aug 22, 2021 at 16:46

All three options have compliance issues. Rather than a blank plate I suggest a night light would be a nice enhancement to your kitchen. On the lighting circuit, of course.
night light for junction box installation

Among the non-compliant approaches I think the lighting circuit would be best as they are all 15A and a new small appliance combined with the disposal or dishwasher might cause trips.

  • The nightlight is a very good idea here, I'd lead with that even considering that the only kitchen receptacles that can go on lighting circuits are switched receptacles... Aug 22, 2021 at 14:31
  • I'm always on the fence about leading an answer to a reasonable question with an evasion and more so if there is no indication OP will like it. Also if the new outlet is deemed to be specifically and permanently for one device, let's say a "countertop water ionizer" is that not sufficient to allow to be on a general circuit so long as the requisite small appliance circuits are there and even if the intended device is not installed?
    – jay613
    Aug 22, 2021 at 14:55
  • Not quite -- the exception for dedicated appliance receptacles requires them to be on individual/dedicated branch circuits Aug 22, 2021 at 15:36
  • Changed this answer incorporating advice in comments from ThreePhaseEel and NoSparksPlease.
    – jay613
    Aug 22, 2021 at 16:58

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