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Receptacle Placement Around Wall Space in Bathrooms

April 24, 2006

Requirements pertaining to receptacle placement inside and outside dwellings are covered in 210.52(A) through (H). While some of these requirements are general and apply to most parts of the dwelling, others are more specific and are applicable only in certain rooms or areas; such as 210.52(D) which pertains to Bathrooms. 

The general provisions for receptacle placement around wall space do not apply to bathrooms. A bathroom, as defined in Article 100, is an area including a basin (sink or lavatory) with one or more of the following: a toilet, a tub, or a shower. As stated in the definition, a bathroom is an area, and therefore it is not necessarily limited to a single room.

All 125-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-ampere receptacles installed in dwelling unit bathrooms must be GFCI protected. [210.8(A)(1)]

At least one wall receptacle outlet must be installed in each dwelling unit bathroom. [210.52(D)] The required receptacle(s) must be installed within three feet (900 millimeters) of the outside edge of each basin (sink or lavatory). Also, the receptacle must be located on a wall or partition that is adjacent to the basin or basin countertop. For example, one bathroom in a dwelling unit contains a single basin. The one required receptacle could be installed behind or beside the sink but not across from the sink.

While receptacles installed more than three feet (900 millimeters) from the outside edge of each basin are permitted, they cannot be counted as a required receptacle. Likewise, receptacles can be located on walls or partitions not adjacent to the basin but cannot be counted as required receptacles.

Providing the required bathroom receptacle has been installed, additional receptacle outlet(s) are permitted. For example, the homeowners would like a receptacle outlet installed on the wall opposite the basin. Since this receptacle is not on a wall adjacent to the sink, it cannot be counted as the required bathroom receptacle. Therefore, this receptacle will be in addition to the required receptacle outlet. 

Regardless of the receptacle’s location, all 125-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-ampere receptacles installed in bathrooms must be GFCI protected. [210.8(A)(1)] Although only one receptacle outlet will be required in most bathrooms, some will require more than one. For example, a large bathroom in a dwelling unit has two sinks. They are located across from each other on opposite walls. Because of where the sinks are located, two receptacle outlets are required. 

Remember, the section currently being discussed pertains to dwelling units. While bathrooms in numerous nondwelling units include multiple basins, receptacles are not required. Bathroom receptacles are only required in dwelling units, mobile (and manufactured) homes, and guest rooms in hotels, motels and similar occupancies.

Just because a bathroom has two basins does not automatically mean that two receptacles will be required. If the distance between two sinks is less than six feet, the required bathroom receptacle could be installed between them. The Code does not specify that one receptacle outlet is required for each basin. If one receptacle outlet is located between two sinks and within three feet (900 millimeters) of the outside edge of each sink, only one receptacle will be required.

For example, a bathroom in a dwelling has a long counter with two sinks. The sinks are on the same wall and within four feet of each other. Two options are available. Two receptacles could be installed with one adjacent to each sink, or one receptacle could be installed between the sinks. 

While 210.52(D) stipulates the placement of receptacles in bathrooms, 210.11(C)(3) specifies the type of branch circuit required. In addition to the number of branch circuits required by 210.11, at least one 20-ampere branch circuit must be provided to supply the bathroom receptacle outlets. [210.11(C)(3)] The receptacles required by 210.52(D) must be fed from a 20-ampere branch circuit. 

Unless a single receptacle is installed, the receptacle itself can be rated either 15 or 20 amperes. [Table 210.21(B)(3)]

The main rule in 210.11(C)(3) states that the branch circuit provided to supply the bathroom receptacle outlet(s) shall have no other outlets. No lighting outlets or other equipment can be fed from the same circuit feeding the bathroom receptacles. For example, a one-family dwelling has two bathrooms and a duplex receptacle has been installed in each. One 20-ampere branch circuit can supply power to both bathroom receptacles but cannot feed anything else.

Neither garage receptacles nor outside receptacles are permitted on the 20-ampere bathroom branch circuit. Since this branch circuit supplies two bathrooms, only bathroom receptacles are permitted on the circuit. This circuit cannot supply lights, exhaust fans or other equipment.

Where the 20-ampere branch circuit supplies only one bathroom, outlets for other equipment within the same bathroom can be on the same circuit. As long as the circuit feeds only one bathroom, it can supply power to receptacles, luminaires (lighting fixtures), exhaust fans, etc. The circuit must be installed in accordance with the provisions in 210.23(A). [210.11(C)(3)]

For example, two bathrooms are located at opposite ends of the house. One bathroom contains two duplex receptacles, a luminaire (light fixture) and an exhaust fan. As long as the branch circuit feeding the receptacles does not leave that particular bathroom, it can also supply power to the light fixture and exhaust fan. No other equipment is permitted on the same circuit if the circuit supplies receptacles in more than one bathroom.

While Article 210 covers branch circuits, Article 220 provides requirements for calculating branch-circuit, feeder and service loads. Although a separate branch circuit is required for bathroom receptacle outlets, no additional load calculation is required when computing services or feeders.

These outlets are included in the general load calculations of 220.3(A). [220.3(B)(10)(1)]

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One Response to “Receptacle Placement Around Wall Space in Bathrooms”

  1. al kai on November 21st, 2011 9:56 am

    is there a requirement for a bathroom receptical to be no closer than 18″ from the centerline of the lavatory faucet?