My island for my kitchen measures 144” x 50”. I will have outlets on each end in the waterfall edge. I was reading that I will need an outlet at every 48”. Do I have to put two outlets on top of the countertop. The only way I can think of doing this is adding two pop up gfci’s? What else could I do? I do not have any filler which could fit an outlet.

  • 1
    As far as locations, can't guess without seeing pictures or diagram of your island. But as far as "pop up gfcis" - the receptacles probably should be GFCIs whether pop up or not (may not actually be required unless there is a sink in the island) but the GFCI in any case can be elsewhere in the circuit - breaker or any prior location - does not have to be literally at the point of use receptacle. May 19, 2022 at 23:55
  • What's going to be above the island? May 20, 2022 at 0:08
  • Not every 48". That is nowhere in Code. What is in Code is "within 24 inches of any usable space on the countertop" (and Code goes into detail on what that is exactly). at any given point the socket could be <=24" to the left, or <=24" to the right. So you could hypothetically have a 48" span between sockets, but that's an effect, it isn't the rule. May 20, 2022 at 19:05

2 Answers 2


Your choices: pop up or dangle down

There are three basic ways to install receptacles in the middle of an island work surface that does not have a "step" or kneewall in it:

  • Come up out of the work surface with a box
  • Embed the receptacle into the work surface (using an in-countertop "popup" receptacle assembly)
  • Use a pendant setup to dangle the receptacle box from what's above.

You've already covered the "popup" assemblies (generally, I'd put the GFCI upstream of the popup receptacle so that it isn't exposed to spills nearly as much), so this answer will discuss the other two options.

First, we have the pendant, which is a receptacle box and strain relief (cord grip) attached to a cord that is either plugged into what's above using a locking plug/receptacle combination, or simply hard-wired into the ceiling with another cord grip. This is a NEC-legal way of doing things provided the correct parts are used for strain-relief, and prefabricated pendant kits are available, but it does have the downside that it's considered to be a quite "industrial" look, which can be troublesome from an interior-decorating standpoint.

The other option is to have a box that sticks out of the work surface, supported by conduits or an integral mounting flange. While this can be done with a FSS or FDS type box and rigid conduits extending up from the floor, this is a faff, relatively speaking, and also limits what wiring methods you can use. A simpler and easier choice is to use an Eaton/Crouse-Hinds FSY box (shown below), which has an integral flange that can be screwed to the countertop, and thus is less vulnerable to mechanical damage than a FSS box while permitting a variety of wiring methods to be used to come up into it.

Eaton/Crouse-Hinds FSY box

  • You would not be in business using an ugly tombstone like that. But they can be handy in a work shop.
    – Ed Beal
    May 20, 2022 at 16:18
  • @EdBeal now I want one :) May 20, 2022 at 19:06

You say island that is 12’ by over 4’ wide.

in that case I would say yes you need an outlet within 2’ or 48” apart max.

if in a kitchen area now if each end go in 4’ and yes you need 2 more receptacles.

if you are slightly longer (I think 3”) I have seen inspectors call out 5 receptacles, one on each end 4’ in from counter top edge both sides and one in the center.

This is a real requirement if the inspector lets you go with 2 do it as if the waterfall is under the counter top they can measure from that point around the top to a max of 4’ so he could require 5.

put in 2 and be happy the inspector is not an AZZ.!!!

This was when the Italian granite was not in US measurements and the inspector flagged it and another receptacle had to be added.

So just make the add if the inspector gets picky a island they can measure point to point no space beyond 48” receptacle to receptacle or no space more than 24” from a receptacle.

In some locations you can have permanently mounted hanging cords but most don’t like that look.

  • 1
    I'm not understanding this answer. Section 210.52(C)(2) of the 2020 NEC says you need at least one receptacle for the first 9 square feet of island surface, and an additional receptacle for each additional 18 square feet or fraction thereof. It requires an outlet within 2 feet of the end of the countertop, and says any others may be "located as determined by the installer, designer, or building owner." Am I misunderstanding something? This caught my interest because my new home passed inspection less than two years ago with a 4 by 10 foot island that has a receptacle in each corner only.
    – Mark
    May 20, 2022 at 2:16
  • I will double check maybe I mess up square inches to square feet I calculated 2.7 we’re required , this would make 3 and my jurisdiction they have to be placed equally as the kitchen counter tops require this.
    – Ed Beal
    May 20, 2022 at 13:16
  • Ok I double checked, you have 50 sf the first 9 requires 1 and every 18 sf additional so 1 for the first 9 then 41/18 2.27 , for a total of 3. Water fall counter tops (6” or more these outlets do not count) so 3 additional locations would be required (or with the 2 you have 5 ) evenly spaced is how my jurisdiction requires them.
    – Ed Beal
    May 20, 2022 at 16:15

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