We just had our kitchen remodel project inspected and the inspector told us we needed to install outlets on a wall that is essentially one long (10') window directly under one long cabinet. We have plenty of outlets on the adjoining two walls. The bottom of this long window butts up to the countertop with a half-inch reveal, for a clean modern look. The only place to put any outlets would be under the cabinets, using those outlet strips (a solution we're not wild about), but my question is this: should the inspector be looking at this wall as a wall, which would need the requisite number of outlets, or as a window, which might be except from this requirement. It seems to me that this space, taken up as it is by a large window, not a wall that would allow outlets to be installed, should be exempt from the outlet-every-two-feet requirement. Are there any electricians or inspectors out there who can offer some informed opinions on this situation? Thank you. enter image description here

  • 2
    Some photos are needed. Also, how high above the coutertop is the bottom of the cabinet? Is the sink in front of the window, and less than 12" away from the wall?
    – Tester101
    Sep 29, 2015 at 17:09
  • I just added a picture of the window in question. Thanks.
    – randy
    Sep 29, 2015 at 18:46
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    The real question is why is this the first time this came up? Since it is getting inspected there seems like there would be some drawings or plans made. Were there outlets on this wall on the plans? If there weren't then you should have gotten it thrown back at you for not meeting code or an exemption.
    – DMoore
    Sep 29, 2015 at 19:42
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    @DMoore I agree, this should have been addressed much sooner.
    – Tester101
    Sep 29, 2015 at 20:37
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    I don't know why you don't want power strips under the cabinet, low profile power strips should not be visible, and you don't need to use them if you don't want to. You could even remove them yourself after inspection, though you'd want to put them back before you sell the house to keep it within code.
    – Johnny
    Sep 29, 2015 at 21:59

3 Answers 3


Not an inspector or electrician, but I was a supervisor of a job that had the same issue. With prior approval from the inspector since there is a requirement/restriction for countertop mounted outlets, the inspector allowed a pop up outlet in the countertop. Here is a pic of the countertop with the window, sorry I can only tell you the outlet is near the red box on the counter. Wall framing did not allow it to go anywhere else to get it close enough to the sink... As mentioned, it was pre-approved by the inspector. This was about 3 years ago.

Outlet location

  • The OP appears to be referring to outlets required on wall spaces, not countertop spacing.
    – Kris
    Sep 29, 2015 at 18:03
  • I am aware of that, but when there no wall space for an outlet, and the inspector requires it, where do you go? It was the only fix that was accepted in the situation. I posted a pic that was the area that had the problem.
    – Jack
    Sep 29, 2015 at 18:09
  • The floor outlet that is referred to in the code you does not involve cabinets. I have had to deal with that too. The inspector will cite that the short extension cords of countertop appliances need to reach the receptacle at any position on the countertop or so I have been told. A floor receptacle will not allow that. The inspector did not understand our remedy at first, but when he seen the sample we had and how it stood vertical for the most part, he accepted it.
    – Jack
    Sep 29, 2015 at 18:23
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    @Kris, the receptacles in the OP's question ARE receptacles serving a wall counter area. That fixed glass panel is treated as wall space. In this case even an operable window would not eliminate the need for receptacles along that counter. Sep 29, 2015 at 20:31
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    @Jack, those pop-up receptacles are perfectly code legal and do NOT require any special permission from an inspector since they are not "face-up" orientation. Sep 29, 2015 at 20:32

Without seeing the location, it's not easy to come up with any alternate solutions or loopholes. Based on the information provided, the inspector is correct. However, even mounting receptacles under the cabinets above the window, may not meet the requirements. If the receptacles mounted on the bottom of the cabinets, are more than 20" above the countertop, they do not satisfy the code.

Section 210.52(A)(2) defines what "wall space" means, and you'll notice there's no mention of windows.

210.52(C)(1) tells you how to space receptacles along wall coutertop spaces, with the only exception being that receptacles are not required on the wall directly behind a range, counter-mounted cooking unit, or a sink.

210.52(C)(5) says that receptacles can be mounted on the underside of cabinets, but if they are 20" above the countertop they do not fulfill the code.

So unless you have a really wide sink in front of the window. You're either going to have to squeeze some receptacles between the coutertop and the bottom of the window, or get the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) to approve the installation without the receptacles or some other alternative solution. Instead of arguing with the inspector, you should work with them to come up with an acceptable solution.

NOTE: The inspector could also call out the lack of a peninsula receptacle, unless there's one somewhere not in the photo.

National Electrical Code 2014

Chapter 2 Wiring and Protection

Article 210 Branch Circuits

210.52 Dwelling Unit Receptacle Outlets.

(A) General Provisions.

(2) Wall Space. As used in this section, a wall space shall include the following:

(1) Any space 600 mm (2 ft) or more in width (including space measured around corners) and unbroken along the floor line by doorways and similar openings, fireplaces, and fixed cabinets

(2) The space occupied by fixed panels in exterior walls, excluding sliding panels

(3) The space afforded by fixed room dividers, such as freestanding bar-type counters or railings

(C) Countertops.

(1) Wall Countertop Spaces. A receptacle outlet shall be installed at each wall countertop space that is 300 mm (12 in.) or wider. Receptacle outlets shall be installed so that no point along the wall line is more than 600 mm (24 in.) measured horizontally from a receptacle outlet in that space.

Exception: Receptacle outlets shall not be required on a wall directly behind a range, counter-mounted cooking unit, or sink in the installation described in Figure 210.52(C)(1).

Figure 210.52(C)(1)
Figure 210.52(C)(1)

(5) Receptacle Outlet Location. Receptacle outlets shall be located on or above, but not more than 500 mm (20 in.) above, the countertop. Receptacle outlet assemblies listed for the application shall be permitted to be installed in countertops. Receptacle outlets rendered not readily accessible by appliances fastened in place, appliance garages, sinks, or rangetops as covered in 210.52(C)(1), Exception, or appliances occupying dedicated space shall not be considered as these required outlets.

  • If the windows had sliding panels to allow them to be opened rather than being fixed-glass, then he'd be exempt from the outlet requirement?
    – Johnny
    Sep 29, 2015 at 21:54
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    @Johnmy, no this is countertop space and has nothing to do with requirements for wall outlets.
    – Kris
    Sep 29, 2015 at 23:24

The code is quite clear:

  • Receptacle outlets shall be installed so that no point along the wall line is more than 600 mm (24 in.) measured horizontally from a receptacle outlet in that space.

In other words

  • Any countertop space in a kitchen greater than or equal to 48" requires a minimum of two outlets.
  • If the countertop space is less than 48" then one outlet will suffice if it is divided equally so no space between the edge of the countertop and the outlet is greater than 24".

The Problem...

  • From the picture provided by the OP, the countertop space to the right of the sink might be less than 48" but the existing outlet is not centered so that no space to either edge is less than 24". This is a problem.

There is no requirement for outlets to be behind ranges and cooktops if the countertop space is less than 12" in depth.

Also a peninsula and/or stationery island would require at least one outlet if it is at least 24" long, 12" wide.

The diagram below illustrates the requirements.

enter image description here

  • There needs to be a receptacle within 2' of each side of the sink. The area behind the sink doesn't count as wall space, but as you can see from Figure 210.52(C)(1), there needs to be a receptacle within 24" of the edge of the sink on both sides.
    – Tester101
    Sep 30, 2015 at 3:01
  • @Tester101, unless there is a receptacle within 4' of the sinks edge, which appears on the right of the OP's picture
    – Kris
    Sep 30, 2015 at 3:03
  • Look at the drawing in your answer, there's a receptacle within 2' of each side of the fridge, sink, and range. The code is pretty clear about that.
    – Tester101
    Sep 30, 2015 at 3:07
  • @Tester101, the illustration clearly indicates the outlets on each side of the sink are required because they've exceeded 4', not because they are 2' or less from the edge.
    – Kris
    Sep 30, 2015 at 3:11
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    The code is quite clear. Pick any point along the wall. There'd better be a receptacle within 24" of that point, or you've not met the code.
    – Tester101
    Sep 30, 2015 at 9:43

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