New changes to National Electrical Codes Impact Kitchen Design

The updated 2023 National Electrical Code is here and if you are a kitchen designer, installer, electrician, or project manager you need to read this article because these are game changers for us that will blow your mind.

Every three years eighteen (18)  NEC (National Electrical Codes)  Code Making Panels (CMPs) which are comprised of electric equipment manufacturers, inspectors, installers, testing laboratories, and other electrical experts gather to develop the latest in safe installation techniques for new electrical technologies on the market today. Technology is growing at such a fast pace requiring constant revisions to these codes to ensure the safety of all.

Perhaps the biggest change affecting my fellow designers is the one pertaining to the kitchen islands /peninsula electrical outlet requirements and placement.

       In the 2020 NEC, electricians were required to install one outlet to serve the first 9 sq ft of an island or peninsula countertop with an additional outlet every 18 square feet thereafter resulting in 2 or more outlets required in these areas.

Now in 2023, all the requirements around receptacle outlets installed in islands and peninsulas based on the square footage of the countertop were removed!

The NEW NEC CodeS Say:
Section 210.52(C)(2), Dwelling Receptacles for Islands, and Peninsulas:
  • Receptacle outlets, if installed to serve an island or peninsular countertop or work surface, shall be installed in accordance with 210.52(C)(3).
  • If a receptacle is not provided to serve an island or peninsular countertop or work surface, provisions shall be provided at the island or peninsular for the future addition of a receptacle outlet to serve the island or peninsular countertop or work surface according to the options listed.
Section 210.52(C)(3):

The NEC code has been revised to provide the following three (3) installation options for island and peninsula receptacle outlet placement.

  • Above the countertop /work surfaces, but no more than 20 inches above.
  • On a countertop/ work surface with a receptacle outlet assembly listed for use in countertops, ie. Pop-Up outlets.
  • Provide a Junction box for future receptacle outlet assembly listed for use in work surfaces or listed for use in countertops.   (The junction box with a protective flexible conduit for the cable is just one example of how this could be done, but it is not required to be done this way per the 2023 NEC. It will be up to the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) as to what constitutes “provisions” for adding a future receptacle outlet since the NEC doesn’t specify.)

Therefore,  outlets for islands and peninsulas are no longer to be installed below the countertop work surface level.  Again, NO OUTLETS ON THE SIDES OF BASE CABINETS!

Why this major change?  Well, let’s take a look at what the CPSC has to say.

  • Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) data shows that between 1991 and 2020, an estimated 9,700 people, many of them children, were treated in United States emergency rooms for burns and other injuries after pulling on or running into power cords plugged into outlets installed below the island /peninsula work surfaces. 

Another big change is to the kitchen backsplash outlet type requirements.  This will increase some project costs as the devices are more expensive to supply. 

Section 210.8(A)(6), GFCI, Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter protection for Dwelling Kitchens.

In the 2020 NEC, only kitchen receptacles serving countertops required ground-fault circuit-interrupter (GFCI) protection. In the new 2023 NEC, all 125- to 250-volt receptacles located inside a kitchen must be GFCI protection regardless of their location or purpose. 

*Legrand =adorne® 15A Tamper-Resistant Self-Test GFCI Outlet, Plus-Size, White #AGFTR2153W4 

In conclusion, it is important for homeowners and contractors to be aware of the NEC regulations surrounding kitchen island outlets, as failure to comply with these regulations can result in serious safety hazards. By following the NEC guidelines, homeowners can ensure that their kitchens are safe and up to code, while contractors can ensure that they are providing their clients with a high-quality, code-compliant installation.

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