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rasz 11-06-2011 08:03 PM

small secondary countertop outlet issue
In my kitchen remodel I am placing one single 12"d x 30"w x 35 tall cabinet along a wall. this will be a counter surface. My main counters have two 20A circuits. I am looking for information on requirements for this small secondary counter. It will have no sink and is 12' from any water supply.

Existing counter circuits:
20amp Circuit #1: one outlet behind refrigerator, one outlet on the main counter, one outlet in dining room, one old stub out to under cabinet lighting (which I may not re use if against code).
20Amp Circuit #2: two outlets on the main counter, one stub out for under counter lighting (which I may not re use if against code), two kitchen wall outlets.

a) There is an outlet 16" from the floor directly next to where the 12" deep base cabinet will be installed. it is on the 20 amp branch of counter circuit #2. I do not need to cross stud bays to get an outlet from there to the new small counter..

b) this wall is very shallow (1/2" wallboard, 1" insulation panel, with 1x3 studs turned sideways), and then masonry. it appears the masonry was cut out to have a ~18 cubic inch box which includes an outlet and the circuit entering and splice to the next box further down the line.

c) Above the counter I have about 1" of depth between the wall board and masonry, ie room for 1 1 1/2 deep box inset into wallboard.

My intent was to draw a branch from the outlet box 18" from the floor. But I am guessing I would need a bigger box there to allow for 9 conductors of 12 gauge. Now that I discovered this is a shallow wall, that would involve opening a big hole for a big box an chewing out a LOT masonry.

I know I have an option of not bolting the cabinet to the wall, but simply using legs and an anti-tip zip tie set, thus defining it as a movable piece of furniture, but I woudl rather bolt it.


1) Does code allow me simply to have the existing 20 amp outlet, as the service outlet for the "countertop"?

2) if not, what size box do I need for something that will serve as 12 gauge a) line in, b) two line outs, c) outlet

3) if I place an outlet on the countertop does that allow me to remove the outlet itself from the floor and simply use the existing box as a "junction box"? IE since a coutner requires a outlet, doesn't that remove the requirement for a above floor outlet every certain number of feet in that segment? In that case, with no outlet, I think the current above floor box has adequate cubic inches to serve as 3x3 12 gauge j-box?

Toofarfromfenwa 11-06-2011 08:10 PM

If the countertop is more than 12" long, it requires an outlet.

If the wall is bigger than 2', it requires an outlet. If you putting in the countertop and cabinet makes that section of wall less than 2', you're good.

If the wall is less than 2', you can use that as a J-box and stub up to the counter for your outlet.

As long as the outlet existing is using 12/2 wire, you should be fine.

rasz 11-06-2011 08:28 PM

Thanks very much.

The wall is 16'. it has one outlet. the outlet is between two windows which are 12" from the floor and which are spaced about 60" apart. So the wall "section" is 60" wide currently with one outlet. With the cabinet and fascia in place, the one section of wall would maximum be 21" probably less.

Am I ok then just using the existing outlet box as a junction to new outlet at counter?

Should I mock up a drawing?

gregzoll 11-06-2011 09:34 PM

Regardless if there is a counter there or not, if the wall is 16 feet long, and the counter is only 30" long, that one outlet on the counter counts as a small appliance branch circuit. That means along that wall, you would have one 20 amp circuit protecting the counter, then along the wall, even if there is a doorway there, you could have either two more, or three more outlets, depending on what the local states, and what would serve the purpose for the use.

If it was me, I would place one outlet along the baseboard aprox 2 to 3 feet from the cabinet, then another about six feet from that one, then the last another six feet, unless there is a doorway, then about three feet if possible from the door, or if there is a corner to the right of the doorway, center the outlet on the wall between the doorway and corner, so it looks balanced (means that it should appear to be properly centered between the wall (ie wall is five feet long, aprox place the outlet second stud over on the right side of that stud).

Jim Port 11-07-2011 03:36 AM

The UC lighting cannot be on the small appliance branch circuits.

rasz 11-07-2011 06:21 AM

@jim r under cabinet. That is what I thought as well. I left the stubs-outs in until asking here.

@greg. That would involve excavating a lot of masonry behind new outlet boxes. This is a small 144 Sq foot kitchen with 7 existing outlet sets. Doesnt 10 outlet pairs in a 144 sf kitchen seem like a lot? The adjacent walls to this exterior side wall have several outlets each. this wall has one due to the range on adjacent wall and the nearly floor to ceiling windows the longest expanse of actual wall is 60 inches (50 with window fascia) and it has an outlet. that is where I am placing small single cabinet

gregzoll 11-07-2011 07:32 AM

No, 10 does not seem like much. Really would have to see a picture of what you are stating that there are too many.

rasz 11-07-2011 09:21 AM


Originally Posted by gregzoll (Post 765635)
No, 10 does not seem like much. Really would have to see a picture of what you are stating that there are too many.

Greg, I understand that if this was a full remodel. I am taking about adding a single 12" deep 30 wide, dry counter-space. The issue of adding an outlet at counter level is already complicated by the very shallow depth behind the wallboard which seems to be from probing to be between 3/4 to 7/8 wide before hitting a masonry wall.

I can handle that, and am seeking ideas on the easiest compliant solution. But frankly, adding a bunch of other new outlets along the wall as well would make this project prohibitive. I would have to fully cut almost every firing strip,shallow stud on that wall and gouge several very deep and big holes in the masonry to fit those new outlet boxes boxes.

here is the pic:

the purple is the new counter. the exisitng outlet was what I would tap. As far as I can tell I am still within the 6 foot rule. the existing box to the left of the new counter has an outlet and two 12/2, but may not have the required c/i capacity for outlets and 3x3 12 gauge connections.

So does the new proposed counter outlet 22 higher and three inches to the right now count toward my six foot rule, in which case I could remove the receptacle and make it just a junction box with enough capacity to splice the three leads of three lines?

rasz 11-07-2011 04:14 PM

ok I found something highlighting changes to 2011 code which seems to hint at this.

what the code seems to say is that the 2010 code would have allowed me to count the counter outlet as satisfying the six foot, ie allowing me simply to use the lower as a j box and install a new outlet. but the 2011 code was specifically changed so I must keep the old outlet as an outlet [Italics mine]

So I should excavate masonry behind the existing outlet box to allow a larger sufficient cubic inch box for three connection of three conductors plus outlet and install a second outlet on the counter?

What is cubic inch for three sets of 12 gauge plus outlet?


210.52 Dwelling Unit Receptacle Outlet Requirements
A change to the wall spacing requirements has been made to address fixed cabinets, and the wall spacing requirements have been clarified.

210.52(A)(2) Definition of Wall Space.
(1) Any space 2 ft or more in width, unbroken along the floor line by doorways and similar openings, fireplaces, and fixed cabinets.
(2) The space occupied by fixed panels in exterior walls.
(3) The space occupied by fixed room dividers, such as freestanding bar-type counters or guard rails.
(3) Floor Receptacle Outlets. Floor receptacle outlets aren't counted as the required receptacle wall outlet if they're located more than 18 in. from the wall.
(4) Countertop Receptacles. Receptacles installed for countertop surfaces as required by 210.52(C) can't be used to meet the receptacle requirements for wall space as required by 210.52(A). (Fig. 4)

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