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Basics of Electrical Codes for Homeowners – Part 2

As discussed in Part 1, the National Electrical Code covers general electrical installations. However, it also contains specific requirements for individual rooms. Part 2 will cover the Closets, Kitchen, Hallways, and Laundry Room.


Incandescent light bulb fixtures require a globe or other enclosure due to their high temperatures. They also must not be installed less than one foot away from clothing storage areas. This can be reduced to six inches for recessed fixtures and those that have CFL (compact fluorescent) light bulbs.


Consuming the most electricity of any room, new kitchens featuring typical appliances will need a minimum of seven circuits. Lighting will require a dedicated circuit that is at least 15 amps. Every kitchen requires a minimum of two 20-amp 120-volt “small appliance” circuits that power countertop receptacles for portable appliances. An oven-electric range will need a dedicated 120/240-volt circuit.

The garbage disposal, dishwasher, microwave, and refrigerator each need a dedicated 120-volt circuit, which can either be 15-amp or 20-amp as determined by the appliance’s electrical load.

Every countertop receptacle and each receptacle located within six feet of a sink must have GFCI protection. In addition, countertop receptacles must be installed no greater than 48 inches apart.


Adequate ceiling lighting must be ensured for longer hallways, which can be emergency escape routes. A hallway more than 10 feet in length will require a general purpose outlet. Both ends of a hallway will require a three-way switch to allow turning off the ceiling lighting. Additional four-way switches next to the doorway of each room on a hallway should be installed.

Laundry Room

A laundry room’s electrical requirements will depend on whether the clothes dryer is gas or electric. A minimum of one 20-amp circuit is required for receptacles powering laundry equipment, and it can serve a gas dryer or washing machine. An electric dryer requires a dedicated 30-amp, 240-volt circuit that is wired with four conductors. Every receptacle must have GFCI protection.

Part 3 will cover Bedrooms, Dining Room & Living Room, Garage, AFCI, and Tamper Resistant.

Electrical Services You Can Trust

Founded in 1991, Meyer Electrical Services provides home and commercial electrical services in Maryland, Virginia, and D.C., where we are licensed and insured. Based in Bethesda, our team proudly serves all of Montgomery County. Receive a free consultation for custom electrical work today by calling (301) 941-1400.