Electrician, Meyer Electrical Services Inc.
Written by Walt Meyer

Electrical Code Basics for Your Home’s Outlets – Part 1

The National Electrical Code (NEC) sets forth the kinds of electrical outlets that should be installed in a home’s living areas, bathrooms, kitchens, and other locations. It also provides guidance regarding the spacing between electrical outlets, which we will focus on in Part 1.


The code for wall outlets in homes may vary in different communities. Each municipality can determine its own electrical codes. However, they typically base their codes on the NEC, which is updated and published every three years. This is one of the reasons why a homeowner should work with a local licensed electrician for repairs and new installations.


General Living Areas


When using the NEC, general living areas are considered as the home’s bedrooms, family rooms, hallways, and living rooms.


Article 210.52(A)(1) advises that no horizontal point on any wall space should be more than six feet from an outlet. This is intended to help ensure appliances, computers, lamps, and TVs are not located more than six feet from an outlet.


It is permitted to use less spacing between outlets, which may be a good idea if there will be usage by several users in an area. If a hallway is more than 10 feet long, there should be a minimum of one outlet installed, and it should be located midway.




For bathroom walls, it is required to have an electrical outlet within three feet of a sink basin’s outside edge. It is generally preferable that the outlet is installed above the countertop. However, the code’s 3-foot requirement offers leeway in the event this is impractical or impossible.




For kitchens, electrical outlets should be installed not more than 48 inches apart. In addition, there should be no point on a countertop that exceeds the distance of 24 inches away from an outlet.


Every kitchen countertop that is 12 inches wide or greater is required to have an electrical outlet installed in the wall behind the countertop. An outlet should not be installed more than 20 inches over a countertop. However, there are specific exceptions for residents who are physically disabled.


Part 2 will cover Amperage, Tamper Resistant, GFCI, and AFCI.


Electrical Services You Can Trust


Founded in 1991 and serving Maryland, Virginia, and D.C., where we are licensed and insured, Meyer Electrical Services provides home and commercial electrical services you can trust, including:


  • Standby Generator Installation
  • Panel Upgrades (Heavy-Ups)
  • Electrical Vehicle Charging Stations
  • Structured Cabling
  • Circuit Breaker Replacement


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.