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Outlet Facts for Your Kitchen Renovation

Outlet Facts for Your Kitchen Renovation

A kitchen renovation requires quite a bit of planning and decision-making. Aside from picking out the colors and general theme, you have to decide on just the right cabinets, countertops, lights, tiles, and a hundred other options. It is not surprising if you miss a thing or two. However, the one thing you should not forget is the outlets.

Kitchen outlets are essential. It would not be an exaggeration to say the kitchen would not work without them. It isn’t enough to have them, either. You have to plan their placement carefully not only according to design and function, but also legal rules. If your kitchen does not follow the electrical code of your area, your home may not pass safety inspection, which is a big problem for you and any homebuyer.
In most cases, a reliable contractor will know about these rules and follow them as a matter of course. You should still know the basics, however.

Area requirements

Kitchen outlets are necessary for providing power to a host of small appliances, which most homeowners have, and most probably quite a few in a small area. Due to these circumstances, the electrical code requires at least one GCFI (ground fault circuit interrupter) for every square foot in the kitchen work areas. The GCFI ensures you have sufficient electrical supply to run two or more high power appliances running at the same time without blowing a fuse. Some homeowners opt to put GCFI outlets in lieu of receptacles, but this is more costly. GCFI outlets are also larger than regular outlets, which may ruin the lines of your kitchen work area.
Note: You cannot exceed 48 inches between GCFI outlets.


For any kitchen, the electrical code requires at least two GCFI receptacles or circuit breakers to accommodate typical appliances such as toasters, blenders, and coffee machines. How many receptacles you need will depend on the size of the work area that host these appliances.
As the name implies, GCFI receptacles monitor the electrical flow of outlets for possible leaks and breaks. These can lead to any one touching the outlet into receiving a bad electrical shock. The GCFI shuts down power to these outlets if it does detect a leak as a protective measure for you as well as your appliances. Each receptacle comes with a test and reset button, which you can use if the GCFI shuts down because of a surge in the flow of electricity. If you push the test and reset button and the GCFI does not restore power, you need to call an electrician to check it.

The code requires that each GCFI receptacle receive power from circuits with a minimum of 20 amps at 120 volts. This is usually enough to power several small appliances running at the same time, and you cans safely run two or more outlets from the receptacle without overloading the circuit. Planning for enough outlets to service each area means you never have to use extension cords.

Non-GCFI outlets

The code also specifies when you should have non-GCFI outlets. Some appliances need a power source that will not shut down in the middle of operation, especially if no one is likely to notice it at once and reset the outlet. However, these non-GCFI outlets need a dedicated line to make sure the appliance gets the power it needs without tripping the circuit, causing everything in the kitchen to shut down. Among these special appliances are:

• Microwave

A microwave typically runs to 1000 watts at any given time, so you need a dedicated line with 20 amps at 120 volts using a 12/2 cable, which is normal for delivering 20 amps.

• Electric range

An electric range needs even more power than a microwave. The electrical code requires a dedicated line of 50 amps at 120/240 volts. You will need a double pole circuit breaker and larger cable to accommodate both 120 and 240-volt supply.

• Refrigerator

Refrigerators require a bit of power, but the reason you want a dedicated non-GCFI outlet for this one is it is continually running. If your GCFI trips during a weekend you are out of town, you may not be able to reset it before all the food inside it becomes a smelly mess. This is particularly grim if your area experiences minor fluctuations all the time. For this appliance, you need a non-GCFI outlet with a supply of 20 amps at 120 volts. The only exception is when the refrigerator is in an unfinished basement or garage, in which case the code specifies a GCFI-outlet.

• Dishwasher

You need a dedicated line of 15 amps at 120 volts by way of a 14/2 cable, which is normal for 15 amps. This is to accommodate the heating feature.

• Garbage disposal

The same specifications for the dishwasher applies to the garbage disposal, which needs a bit of juice to power the grinder motor.

• Lights

You do not usually have outlets to supply power to lights, but the code does require all the lights in the kitchen should come from a non-GCFI receptacle supplying 15 amps at 120 volts. One is enough for a typical kitchen, but you can put in an additional line if you have more lights than usual. You can also choose to put in a circuit that supplies more amps.

Safety issues

An additional safety requirement of the electrical code is especially important if you have children in the house. All kitchen outlets have to be tamper-resistant, which means they require two prongs pushed in with more force than a child can exert before any electricity will flow through.


You need a number of electric outlets in your kitchen, but this rarely gets the attention you need to have when planning a kitchen renovation. The electric code ensures safety and convenience in your home, and remodeling contractors should know this. If you know it, you can find the right remodeling contractor for your home.

Fairfax Kitchen Bath has a thorough knowledge of the electric code that pertains to the DC, MD and Northern Virginia metropolitan areas. We are a Class A, licensed and insured contractor, registered in the Commonwealth of Virginia. You will get the safety you need in your kitchen to love it for life.

When you contract with us, you can be sure you will get a quick turnaround on your products, and receive it much faster than ordering what you need from big box stores. We specialize in remodeling kitchens and bathrooms to specifications, and executing them within budget and on time.
Aside from professional electrical services, we have the expertise to carry out any type of remodeling you need. We also carry the products you need for your kitchen remodeling, from natural and engineered stone slabs, cabinets, shelves, sinks, faucets tiles, backsplashes, knobs and pulls, and hardwood flooring. We carry only the top brands for these products, such as Schrock Cabinetry, Silestone, Blanco, Kohler, and Mosaic Décor.
You can see the products before you buy so you can decide for yourself if the quality is what you expect. We have a showroom in Fairfax, Virginia which houses all our products, including actual granite, marble and engineered stone slabs from which you can choose.
Our products come with manufacturer warranties that ensure your satisfaction with the quality and installation.
Contact us today to get a free quote for your safe and code-compliant kitchen remodeling project.

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Picture of Sam Kazanci <br/><span id="position">Owner</span>
Sam Kazanci

Sam Kazanci is the owner of Fairfax Kitchen Bath Remodeling. He has experience to build and remodel the kitchen and baths with his team and the author of fkb blog: You can find Sam on LinkedIn and Twitter.