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I have a built in entertainment center in my bedroom. It’s recessed in a 2 foot deep alcove. The top half is a shelf and place for an old CRT TV, and the bottom half is cabinet doors. There was a standard outlet in the back of the upper portion. To modernize it, I’ve removed the top half of the cabinetry, cut it to half the depth, and I plan to frame a new wall at half the depth (12”) to support a TV mount and reinstall it. I’ll still need the power available at the new location, and my understanding is that the outlet needs to be accessible for code (can’t be hidden a foot behind a cabinet. How can I move the outlet 12” forward into the new wall\back of bookcase? I understand how to relocate up or down a wall, but not forward into a new wall. To stay in code, do I need to run down the new wall from the attic, or can I extend from the old box somehow?

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    Some pics or a sketch would really help you out here...
    – Huesmann
    Commented Jul 11 at 12:06
  • 2017 NEC states: "Accessible, Readily (Readily Accessible). Capable of being reached quickly for operation, renewal, or inspections without requiring those to whom ready access is requisite to take actions such as to use tools (other than keys), to climb over or under, to remove obstacles, or to resort to portable ladders, and so forth. (CMP-1)"
    – AdamO
    Commented Jul 11 at 15:46

5 Answers 5

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Accessible means touching it without tools needed.

If you can move what is in front of it by hand, good.

You need screwdriver, hammer, saw, bad.

If you want to move the outlet and the cabinet is movable by hand only, then use the old box as a junction box and add wires/cable from old box to new box with the outlet. Will need a blank face plate for the old box.

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  • Unfortunately, the cabinet will be screwed to a 2x4 framed “wall” which will be connected to the lower cabinets and the existing walls in the sides of the alcove. So, the junction box would not be accessible without disassembly.
    – Stephen
    Commented Jul 10 at 20:36
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    @Stephen That makes life a lot harder. The box cannot stay behind the cabinet. If an inside wall, can just remove the box from that wall and turn it around so it is accessible from the room behind(easiest), or you remove the wires and box and move them beside/above the cabinet. Or if enough room in the cabinet, you can cut a hole in the cabinet where the box is, and extend the wires/close the door/place a picture in front. An outlet inside a cabinet with doors is okay.
    – crip659
    Commented Jul 10 at 21:11
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    Might another alternative be to introduce a new junction box beside the new cabinet where the cable approaches the cabinet, and then run a new cable from their to the outlet wherever you want? Commented Jul 11 at 13:45
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I did almost the same thing to the 90s home I moved into a while back--the CRT to flat TV conversion with a new forward wall. In your case, it may make sense to put an access panel behind the TV so you can simply run the cord through to the original outlet.

These tend to have knockout notches near the edges so you can easily make passthroughs for cabling. Or make your own with a Dremel or drill. They're paintable, so consider a spray job before installation or roll them to match the wall.

I actually used smaller grommets because I'm able to reach under the forward wall. That may also make sense.

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image source

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  • "Accessibility" is often pointed out as a key element of such installations - would that access panel fit the bill? (i.e. the fact that it is behind the TV does not matter I guess, but the fact that you cannot easily maneuver around the (hidden, original) outlet is not an issue?)
    – WoJ
    Commented Jul 12 at 10:10
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Depending on the route of the wires behind/inside the wall you might be able to generate enough slack cable to move the socket forwards, by relocating it up/ down/ sideways. Obviously this also depends on your location, wiring code, location of structural timbers, etc. etc.

You should be able to get a better idea by tracing the cable route using a metal detector / cable tracer, before cutting into the wall if this idea looks plausible.

A junction box inside the wall may or may not be legal under your wiring code, and there will be rules about exactly how it may and may not be installed.

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It depends if the new cable run is buried or not, which I can't tell from the description of the problem.

In either case, you need to deprecate any receptacle that has no purpose or accessibility. (I believe a receptacle in an attic may be permitted to power lights or tools, but the same is not true inside a wall - take consideration of the total allowed load on a circuit for the given amperage an indefinite number of receptacles is not allowed).

If the cable is buried, the job is simple. Create a pass through junction at the box, and run the new cable according to the approved process taking mind of the staple type and frequency. If the wall is a new wall, you may not simply run the cable open-style in the space (electrical inspection before final inspection).

If the cable is not buried, such as running through finished furniture (like a cabinet or kitchen island), one way to move an outlet forward is as follows:

  1. Shut off circuit at the box.
  2. Remove the outlet - retain the box however and purchase a cover plate. This will be a junction site and needs to remain accessible.
  3. Run BX cable to box and pass through cabinetry tucking it into an inconspicuous corner where possible.
  4. Terminate BX cable to the desired box location. Install an approved box and receptacle.
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Don't leave the old box buried inside a wall cavity. Remove the old box, then reroute the cable into a new box installed in the new wall. The question is whether your existing cable is long enough to let you do this easily.

You're only moving this outlet forward 12". You may have enough cable slack in the wall (or in your attic/crawlspace) to pull the wiring forward to reach the new wall surface. If you don't, you may be able to make enough slack by moving the outlet to one side or another. If (for example) the wiring enters the room from the right, try moving the outlet to the stud to the right of its current location. Studs are typically 16" apart, so moving the outlet one stud shoud free up enough cable to bring the outlet forward to the new wall surface. Moving the outlet up or down the wall may also be an option, depending on which direction your wiring is run. It sounds like the new outlet will end up hidden behind your TV so it's not a big deal if it ends up in an awkward location.

Since you're going to be building a new wall anyway, you'll have the luxury of being able to tear open your existing wall without worrying about fixing it. That should make it easy to see exactly how the wiring is run and which direction you need to move the outlet to get the slack you need.

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