If you are thinking about remodeling your kitchen, there is a good chance that you will need GFCI outlets and switches in the new kitchen design. The GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) and is also known as a Ground Fault Interrupter (GFI). This device is important in helping prevent fires in a kitchen and reducing the risk of electric shock.
When planning a kitchen remodel, it is important to have a firm grasp of the fundamental NKBA guidelines on kitchen design. These guidelines have helpful tips on the placement of switches and outlets to consider during the kitchen design planning process.
Placement of Outlets and Switches
One of the more common types of switch or receptacle used in a new kitchen remodel is known as “Decora”. It is a square type – rectangle shaped decorator styled switch or outlet vs. the older boring types that have been used for years. Decora also happens to be a brand name by the maker Leviton, however, other manufacturers also make Decorator looking switches and receptacles.
Outlet placement matters in a new kitchen remodel. Each municipality has its own requirements and codes for the placement of GFCI receptacles in the kitchen. So you’ll need to ask your electrician what the exact distances are for your city or municipality. However, there are NEC (National Electric Code Guidelines) that I have picked up over the years that is good information to know for your kitchen design regarding kitchen GFCI receptacle locations:
- A GFCI outlet should be within appx. 2 feet of the outside edge of any sink located along a wall in a kitchen
- A GFCI outlets is needed on both ends of a kitchen island
- A GFCI outlet should be at the end of a kitchen peninsula at a certain height from the counter top
- A GFCI outlet appx. needs to be every 2 feet on the kitchen walls, based on your city’s guidelines and the NEC
There are exceptions that a homeowner can use in their kitchen backsplash to meet the requirements of Kitchen GFCI or GFI receptacles. There is a product that can be installed, known as a “plug mold”, which is essentially a multi-outlet strip. One of the leader makers of plug mold for the kitchen is Legrand. This is the brand that I specify in kitchen designs when a client does not like the look of an outlet in their very expensive kitchen backsplash. A GFCI plug mold is installed under the upper kitchen cabinets to meet code requirements.
One of the more upscale plug mold alternative is by Adorne (line owned by Legrand) which comes with switch options, USB charging, receptacles and GFCI options. This is more expensive, but the look is worth it, when you want something really special for your kitchen.
According to the National Electric Code (NEC), there must be two small appliance circuits in the kitchen. It is important to know where your small appliances, such as a toaster, coffeemaker, or other items will be placed, so that you can have the appropriate power for the item. It is also important to know if you are adding a custom appliance such as a Miele Coffee station or a built in warming drawer. These items have special electrical needs that need to be incorporated in the kitchen remodel design.
It is important that all of your kitchen GFCI outlets are tamper resistant. This includes outlets that are 15 amp and 20 amp. This rule applies to the following ares in your kitchen remodel: kitchen countertop area, small appliance circuit, wall and hallway areas. You can tell if your outlets are tamper resistant because they are marked TR on the outlet.
Click on the following for more information on Kitchen outlet and switch placement:
A short guide to outlets in your kitchen – Divine: Design Build
Planning for Switches and Outlets in Your Kitchen Design – Sanctuary – Kitchen Bath & Design
Residential Kitchen Receptacles – City of Freemont- Building & Safety Division