2 and 4, 2 and 4…. When do we start counting kitchen receptacles?
Wenatchee Home Inspections
2 and 4 for a drummer is usually a good spot for snare. But what about kitchens?
Common in modern kitchens is receptacles(outlets) have a required placement on any kitchen countertop that is foot wide or more should have a receptacle. There should be no space along the countertop that should exceed two feet to a receptacle… hence the 2 and 4 rule.
The reason is in more modern living we have all kinds of appliances and we need receptacle coverage for them. Some items are always plugged in such as the toaster and the coffee pot. Now add in the other appliances such as a hot water kettle, keurig, food processor and many of our other electronic gadgets and those receptacles get filled up pretty fast.
But that was not the way it was not so far back. As a home inspector in older home I will only find one receptacle per separate counter area. This was normal in older homes say from the 70’s and 80’s.
The current requirement from the 2014 NEC-
(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).
(2) Island Countertop Spaces.
At least one receptacle shall be installed at each island countertop space with a long dimension of 600 mm (24 in.) or greater and a short dimension of 300 mm (12 in.) or greater.
(3) Peninsular Countertop Spaces.
At least one receptacle outlet shall be installed at each peninsular countertop space with a long dimension of 600 mm (24 in.) or greater and a short dimension of 300 mm (12 in.) or greater. A peninsular countertop is measured from the connecting edge.”
So being always curious is when did this first become a requirement? Well the first requirement for the “2 and 4 rule” appears in the 1990 NEC.
From 1990 NEC
“210.52 Dwelling Unit Receptacle Outlets.
(c) In kitchen and dining areas of dwelling units a receptacle outlet shall be installed add each counter space wider than 12 inches. Receptacles shall be installed so that no point along the wall line is more than 24 inches, measured horizontally from a receptacle outlet in that space. Island and Peninsular counter tops 12 inches or wider should have at least one receptacle for each 4 feet of countertop. Counter top spaces is separated by range tops, refrigerators, or sinks shall be considered a separate countertop spaces. Receptacles rendered inaccessible by appliances fastened in place or appliances occupying dedicated space shall not be considered as these required outlets.”
Now if we look back a little ways we can see what the previous requirements were.
From the 1975 NEC-
“210-25 Receptacle Outlets Required
(Note: Excerpt from section (b) pertaining to kitchens)
(b) In kitchens and dining areas a receptacle Outlet shall be installed at each counter space wider than 12 inches. Countertop spaces separated by range tops, refrigerators or sinks shall be considered a separate countertop spaces. Receptacles rendered inaccessible by installation of stationary appliances shall not be considered as these required outlets”
So in the 70’s we would just be required to have one receptacle per counter space 12 inches or wider.
Now let’s step back a little farther-
From the 1965 NEC (Under lining was added by me to highlight the specific area)
“210-22. Receptacle Outlets Required. Receptacle outlets shall be in-
stalled as follows:
(b) Dwelling Type Occupancies.
In every kitchen, dining room, breakfast room, living room, parlor, library, den, sun room, recreation room and bedroom, receptacle outlets shall be installed so that no point along the floor line in any wall space is more than six feet, measured horizontally, from an outlet in that space including any wall space two feet wide or greater and the wall space occupied by sliding panels in exterior walls. The receptacle outlets shall, insofar as practicable, be spaced equal distances apart. Receptacle outlets in floor shall not be counted as part of the required number of receptacle outlets unless located close to the wall. At least one outlet shall be installed for the laundry.
Outlets in other sections of the dwelling for special appliances such as laundry equipment, shall be placed within 6 feet of the intended location of the appliance.
220-3. Branch Circuits Required. Branch circuits shall be installed as follows:
(b) Receptacle Circuits, Dwelling Occupancies. For the small appliance load in kitchen, laundry, pantry, family room, dining room and breakfast room of dwelling occupancies, two or more 20 ampere branch circuits in addition to the branch circuits specified in Section 220-3(a) shall be provided for all receptacle outlets in these rooms, and such circuits shall have no other outlets.
Receptacle outlets supplied by at least two appliance receptacle branch circuits shall be installed in the kitchen.
Receptacle outlets installed solely for the support of and the power supply for electric clocks may be installed on lighting branch circuits.
A three wire 115/230 volt branch circuit is the equivalent of two 115 volt receptacle branch circuits.”
So in the 60’s we are just required to have 2 appliance receptacle branch circuits without any qualifiers for counter tops. So from reading this 2 receptacles in the kitchen would be the bare minimum.
Here is a nice link to som receptacle history- http://www.necconnect.org/article210_history/
"There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception."
If you find any errors or have additional information that would expand on any code, building standards or manufacturer requirements please let me know.
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