Outlets in Built-Ins

donselec

Senior Member
Location
Aurora, CO, USA
I had a wall in a family room that had built-in cabinets installed along the entire length of about 12 feet, to meet the 12-foot rule I installed an outlet in one of the cabinets down near the floor. You have to open the cabinet door to get to it. The inspector (I wasn't there) rejected because he said the outlet wasn't "readily accessible" and wanted another outlet installed above it over the shelf. I didn't take a picture of it. Isn't opening a cabinet door to get to an outlet considered "readily accessible?" I thought so. Maybe not, any thoughts?
 

480sparky

Senior Member
Location
Iowegia
Accessible, Readily (Readily Accessible).Capable of being reached quickly for operation, renewal, or inspections without requiring those to whom ready access is requisite to climb over or remove obstacles or to resort to portable ladders, and so forth.
Depends on your interpretation of 'remove obstacles'.
 

infinity

Moderator
Staff member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Journeyman Electrician
A cabinet is not a wall or a fixed room divider so I don't see why any receptacle is required.
 

donselec

Senior Member
Location
Aurora, CO, USA
Where does the NEC say that the outlets must be "readily accessible"? :?
I agree, it says you shouldn't have to go through a locked door, the cabinet door doesn't have a lock. It is kind of a fuzzy area though. If an outlet is behind a bed, or behind a refrigerator, is that illegal too? Seems a bit ridiculous to me. But how does the 12' rule apply on walls where there are built-in cabinets and shelves from the floor to the ceiling?
 

david

Senior Member
Location
Pennsylvania
you did not say it is cabinets fixed in place, you said it was a wall with built in cabinets. Rec to qualify for the counter in a kitchen are required to be readily accessible. Though the language is not applicable to wall space. The code does exclude a rec. in a cabinet from counting as a required rec.
 

donselec

Senior Member
Location
Aurora, CO, USA
Well it's not a kitchen, but a family room. The cabinets are attached to the wall as base cabinets with shelves, and continue to the ceiling. There's no open space for an outlet like you would have on a regular wall. There would normally be required an outlet if the cabinets were not installed. I found in 210.52(A)(1) and (2) that talks a bit about it. The word "fixed cabinets" is new in the 2011 Code. (I don't know how to include the quote of the Code in here so hopefully you can check it out). Does a wall in a family room that has cabinets attached to it require outlets, and where, remembering that without the cabinets an outlet would be required. Thanks.
 

jumper

Senior Member
Well it's not a kitchen, but a family room. The cabinets are attached to the wall as base cabinets with shelves, and continue to the ceiling. There's no open space for an outlet like you would have on a regular wall. There would normally be required an outlet if the cabinets were not installed. I found in 210.52(A)(1) and (2) that talks a bit about it. The word "fixed cabinets" is new in the 2011 Code. (I don't know how to include the quote of the Code in here so hopefully you can check it out). Does a wall in a family room that has cabinets attached to it require outlets, and where, remembering that without the cabinets an outlet would be required. Thanks.
Here ya go...

(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
 

david

Senior Member
Location
Pennsylvania
I was not thinking your situation was a kitchen the question was asked since when does the code require rec. to be assessable. The question I believe was asked in reference to spacing requirements found in 210.52. The language specifically excludes rec. located in cabinets your inspector may have used terminology found in 210.52(C)(5) rendered not readily accessible and 210.60(B) Receptacle Placement. shall be readily accessible. Which as I said is not applicable language to your particular situation.

210.52 Dwelling Unit Receptacle Outlets. The receptacles required by this section shall be in addition to any receptacle that is: (3) Located within cabinets or cupboards, or

Your inspector may have used the wrong term but the rule is applicable to your cabinets. I picture this as a wall with cabinets attached to it. Yes it counts as wall space, and yes it needs rec. placement. 210.52 would exclude the rec. placement in the cabinet all together it was a compromise to allow the placement in a portion of the cabinet that was not enclosed by a door
 

david

Senior Member
Location
Pennsylvania
I agree if the cabinets go from the floor to the ceiling and render this space useless as wall space I would not have required a rec. for the length of the cabinets
 

donselec

Senior Member
Location
Aurora, CO, USA
I agree if the cabinets go from the floor to the ceiling and render this space useless as wall space I would not have required a rec. for the length of the cabinets
Thanks for your help and I tend to agree. There is an outlet just to the left of the cabinet area and just to the right, as well as the outlet in the cabinet. Believe it or not, the example the insp used was if someone wanted to plug in a vacuum cleaner they'd have to open the cabinet door to plug it in. I guess if the vacuum had a 6' cord he'd have a point. I would hope he just misspoke, since we all say things sometimes we don't really mean. I would hate to think he was serious. In any case I added the outlet above in the shelf area so it can be reached without opening a cabinet door, so now they can vacuum to their heart's content. :) Still it's an interesting question and I appreciate the help.
 

GoldDigger

Moderator
Staff member
Thanks for your help and I tend to agree. There is an outlet just to the left of the cabinet area and just to the right, as well as the outlet in the cabinet. Believe it or not, the example the insp used was if someone wanted to plug in a vacuum cleaner they'd have to open the cabinet door to plug it in. I guess if the vacuum had a 6' cord he'd have a point. I would hope he just misspoke, since we all say things sometimes we don't really mean. I would hate to think he was serious. In any case I added the outlet above in the shelf area so it can be reached without opening a cabinet door, so now they can vacuum to their heart's content. :) Still it's an interesting question and I appreciate the help.
I am glad you found a practical way to satisfy the inspector and were able to move on. Taking his argument to the extreme, if you have a doorway which is 12 feet wide (I give big parties) would he have insisted on an outlet in the middle of the doorway? If the wall sections on either side of the cabinet were too small to require an outlet on their own, you would not even, under the section quoted, have had to install outlets on either side.
By the way, what is on either side of the 12 foot cabinet? Just the corners of a 12' wall?
 

david

Senior Member
Location
Pennsylvania
Believe it or not, the example the insp used was if someone wanted to plug in a vacuum cleaner they'd have to open the cabinet door to plug it in. I guess if the vacuum had a 6' cord he'd have a point.
This example is not unusual and is used quit often to make sense to include the wall space behind the swing of a hinged door. It been used for many years and seems to be an example that explains the usefulness of rec. placement in wall space that otherwise would serve little purpose.

The cabinet since it is defined as breaking the line of the wall space just as a doorway does, should not be included in the placement requirements no more than a opening in the wall line for a door would be.

That?s the point others were making in the code references? they provided you.
 

donselec

Senior Member
Location
Aurora, CO, USA
This example is not unusual and is used quit often to make sense to include the wall space behind the swing of a hinged door. It been used for many years and seems to be an example that explains the usefulness of rec. placement in wall space that otherwise would serve little purpose.

The cabinet since it is defined as breaking the line of the wall space just as a doorway does, should not be included in the placement requirements no more than a opening in the wall line for a door would be.

That?s the point others were making in the code references? they provided you.
Yes, that makes the most sense. The term "fixed cabinets" is new in the 2011 Code, included with fireplaces and doorways, and that may have thrown him off. The fixed cabinets should be considered a break in the wall space.

Thanks.
 

infinity

Moderator
Staff member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Journeyman Electrician
Yes, that makes the most sense. The term "fixed cabinets" is new in the 2011 Code, included with fireplaces and doorways, and that may have thrown him off. The fixed cabinets should be considered a break in the wall space.

Thanks.
If you go back to the ROP for the 2011 NEC you'll see quite a few proposals for the inclusion the words or some form of the words, fixed cabinets. And a few of them were written by members of this forum.
 

donselec

Senior Member
Location
Aurora, CO, USA
The inspector looked at it today and passed it with the additional outlet. He said if the fixed cabinets are more than 5 1/2 feet tall without an opening for shelving at or below the 5 1/2 foot level, then no outlet is required. If they're less than 5 1/2 feet tall or if there's an open shelf in there then an outlet is required. Must be a local thing, certainly not in the NEC.
 

donselec

Senior Member
Location
Aurora, CO, USA
I finally met with the inspector on another part of the job and discussed this issue with him. Here is a copy of the letter I sent to him, see if you think it makes sense or if you disagree:

Rick,
Hi, I spoke with you the other day about outlets in cabinets at (the job), perhaps you remember, when you were inspecting the hot tub.
210.52 is the general article requiring outlets every 12' and so on. The first paragraph has "the receptacles required by this section shall be in addition to..." and then they list 4 items. That means that outlets that are part of those 4 items cannot be counted as meeting the other requirements. In other words an outlet in a cabinet cannot be counted as one of the outlets required by the 12' rule. Item (3) talks about outlets in cabinets, and Item (4) talks about outlets more than 5 1/2' above the floor. Item (4) doesn't have anything to do with cabinets. If an outlet is more than 5 1/2' above the floor, then it can't be counted as meeting the 12' requirement.
Now if you go to the next page, Article 210.52(A)(2)(1): It defines a wall space: "Any space 2 ft or more in width...and unbroken along the floor line by doorways and similar openings, fireplaces, and fixed cabinets. Note the term "fixed cabinets" is new in the 2011 Code. Doorways, fireplaces, and fixed cabinets, without regard to height, are considered breaks in the wall for the purpose of this section.
I would conclude that an outlet in a cabinet is not required, and if one is installed, it can't be counted as meeting the requirement of the 12' spacing rule, and if cabinets constitute a break in the wall line, then an outlet there would be permissible but not required.
Hopefully that make sense! I could be wrong too.
Let me know what you think sometime when you get a chance.
Thanks,
Don Natelborg
 
Top