Article 210--Branch Circuits

210.52(C)(3) Peninsular Counter Spaces

Article 210 covers branch circuits except those that supply only motor loads. Motor load requirements are covered in Article 430. Receptacle placement provisions for dwelling units are stipulated in 210.52(A) through (H). While some of these provisions are general and apply throughout the dwelling, others are more specific and are only applicable in certain rooms or areas. Compliance with the general provisions is required in every kitchen, family room, dining room, living room, parlor, library, den, sunroom, bedroom, recreation room, or similar room or area. Specific provisions are applicable for the rooms (or areas) listed in their particular section. Last month’s In Focus covered requirements pertaining to kitchen and dining room counter spaces. The discussion included receptacle placement for counter spaces located against a wall and also island counter spaces. This month’s In Focus begins with peninsular counter spaces.

At least one receptacle outlet is required for each peninsular counter space with a long dimension of 24 inches (600 mm) or greater and a short dimension of 12 inches (300 mm) or greater. As mentioned last month, receptacle placement for island and peninsular counter spaces is not determined in the same way as it is for wall counter space. Receptacle placement for counter space next to a wall is determined by the counter’s length. Unless the countertop is divided into separate spaces, only one receptacle is required for a peninsular counter space that meets the minimum dimensions stipulated in 210.52(C)(3). Regardless of the peninsular counter’s length, only one receptacle is required. A peninsular countertop that is 20 feet long requires the same number of receptacles as a peninsular counter that is 2 feet long. For example, a peninsular counter in a kitchen of a dwelling has a long dimension of 60 inches and a short dimension of 24 inches. Since this is a peninsular counter space and the dimensions are greater than 12 inches by 24 inches, only one receptacle is required. At least three receptacle outlets would have been required if the same 5-foot countertop was situated against a wall. Although only one receptacle is required for each peninsular counter, installing additional receptacles is permitted. There is no limitation on the number of receptacles that can be installed at peninsular counters.

Peninsular counter spaces occasionally include range tops or sinks. Last month’s discussion stated that countertop spaces separated by range tops, refrigerators or sinks must be considered as separate countertop spaces in applying the first three requirements of this section. [210.52(C)(4)] Therefore, a receptacle is required for each separate peninsular counter space with at least a 12 inches (300 mm) by 24 inches (600 mm) area. For example, a kitchen in a dwelling contains a peninsular counter. The width of the countertop is 24 inches, and the overall length is 52 inches. A cook top is located in the center of the peninsular countertop. The counter space on each side of the cook top is 12 inches by 24 inches. Since each separate counter space matches the minimum dimensions specified in 210.52(C)(3), one receptacle is required for each peninsular counter space.

This section’s last sentence clarifies how to measure peninsular counter spaces. Since countertops are often seamless, it could be confusing when determining where the wall countertop ends and the peninsular countertop begins. This section says to measure a peninsular countertop from the connecting edge. The connecting edge is where the peninsular counter joins the wall counter. Besides connecting perpendicular to wall countertops, peninsular countertops can connect to the end, or at any angle, to wall countertops.

210.52(C)(5) Receptacle Outlet Location

Unless meeting this section’s exception, receptacle outlets must be located above, but not more than 20 inches (500 mm) above, the countertop. The maximum height for countertop receptacles was changed in the 2002 NEC. Prior to the new edition, the maximum height was 18 inches (458 mm) above the countertop. Top cabinets are usually installed 18 inches above the countertop. This rule change makes it possible to install fixed multioutlet assemblies under the top cabinet and still be within the maximum height requirement. While receptacles located more than 20 inches above countertops are permitted, they cannot be included as required receptacles.

Receptacle outlets that are not readily accessible because of fastened-in-place appliances, appliance garages or appliances occupying dedicated space cannot be counted as required receptacles. A receptacle installed behind a refrigerator cannot be included as one of the required counter space receptacle. For example, a countertop that is 12 inches wide is next to a refrigerator. Since the counter space is 12 inches wide, a receptacle is required. Because an appliance is occupying a dedicated space, the required counter space receptacle cannot be installed behind the refrigerator.

Appliance garages, sometimes referred to as tambour storage units, are installed between the countertop and the overhead cabinets. The space inside appliance garages is still counted as wall counter space, but receptacles installed inside cannot be counted as required receptacles. When laying out receptacles, calculate the counter space as if the appliance garage were not there. For example, a corner-type appliance garage is located in the kitchen of a dwelling. The space inside the garage is considered counter space, and therefore the required receptacles must be installed outside the garage. Since the maximum distance to a receptacle is 24 inches (600 mms), the maximum distance between receptacles is 48 inches (1.2 meters). [210.52(C)(1)] The receptacles must be installed so that the maximum distance between them (measured horizontally along the wall line) is 48 inches.

Just because a receptacle cannot be counted as a required receptacle does not mean that it cannot be installed. Although they are not counted, receptacle outlets are permitted inside appliance garages. For example, a dwelling unit includes an appliance garage as part of the kitchen cabinets. The homeowner wants a receptacle installed inside the appliance garage. While this receptacle is permitted, it cannot be counted as one of the required counter space receptacles. Remember, since all receptacles serving countertop surfaces in kitchens must be GFCI protected, receptacles inside appliance garages must also have ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection for personnel. [210.8(a)(6)]

Next month’s In Focus, resuming with 210.52(C)(5) Exception, will continue discussion of required receptacle outlets in dwelling units. EC

MILLER, owner of Lighthouse Educational Services, teaches custom-tailored classes and conducts seminars covering various aspects of the electrical industry. He is the author of Illustrated Guide to the National Electrical Code. For more information, visit his Web site at He can be reached by phone at 615.333.3336, or via e-mail at


About the Author

George W. Flach

Code Q&A Columnist

George W. Flach was a regular contributing Code editor for Electrical Contractor magazine, serving for more than 40 years. His long-running column, Code Q&A, is one of the most widely read in the magazine's history. He is a former chief electrical...

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