Plug Into the Accessibility Details When Placing Electrical Outlets Over a Kitchen Countertop

It sounds simple as first: The National Electrical Code (NEC) says every piece of counter 12 inches or wider must have an outlet over it, and
there must be at least one outlet every 4 feet, Building Safety Journal reports. But ICC A117.1 also requires a clear floor space of 30 inches by 48 inches in front of a counter so a person in a wheelchair can reach the outlets.

That’s when“the details can spark confusion,” Kimbrerly Paarlberg writes. Life gets particularly complicated around refrigerators, ranges, and L-shaped corners.

How to respond? Paarlberg says you need to consider three things: (1) placement of the clear floor space in relation to the outlets; (2) reach depth; and (3) the height of obstructions.

“In my opinion, appliances sticking out further than the base cabinets, cabinet pulls and the standard countertop edges are not ‘obstructions’ for reaching outlets,” Paarlberg writes. “For the best design, the outlets should be located to meet NEC requirements and for the best possible access for reach, such as on a side wall or located to consider the true reach illustrated earlier in this article.

“Providing additional outlets in more accessible locations could be a viable alternative to attempting to provide full access over every piece of countertop,” the author added. “Any alternatives (ICC A117.1 Section 103) must be approved by the authority having jurisdiction. For example, recently I saw a product that put a series of outlets inside a drawer. While this most likely was designed for people to charge phones and tablets off the counter, it did place outlets in an accessible location.”