It may surprise you to learn that the height of a bathroom outlet is not selected at random. Electricians follow specific rules and standards. But what are those rules and standards? Are they mandatory or more like general guidance that contractors can choose to ignore?
How High Should Outlets Be in Bathroom?
Most counters in the bathroom sit somewhere between 32 and 36 inches above the floor. The average bathroom counter has a backsplash (4 inches). The distance between the top of the backsplash and the outlets should be 2-3 inches. This seems to be the consensus.
Average Bathroom Outlet Height
|Standard Height for bathroom vanity receptacle||32-36 inches above the floor|
|Bathroom countertop outlet height||32-36 inches|
|Bathroom wall outlet height||4 inches above the countertop|
|ADA bathroom outlet height||15-48 inches above the floor|
|Minimum height for an electrical outlet in the bathroom||No less than 15 inches|
Though, the exact figures may vary slightly. But you shouldn’t place it under a window.
If you don’t have any countertops and backsplashes in the area, The Spruce expects you to position your bathroom outlets 12 inches from the floor. But you have to measure from the top of the floor covering to the bottom of the box.
If you measured the length between the top of the floor covering and the top of the box, the distance should be 16 inches.
The objective is to enhance convenience and accessibility.
Convenience and accessibility do not matter to most people but these factors affect disabled individuals.
For a home occupied by a person in a wheelchair, a bathroom outlet should never be less than 15 inches from the top of the floor covering.
Where the process of taking measurements is concerned, you have several options at your disposal. The laser level is very easy to use. But if you have a 16-ounce hammer, it will also work. These tools are 13 inches long. You can use one to estimate the 12 inches from the top of the floor covering. Where possible, try to keep the outlets at the same height.
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What is the Code for Bathroom Outlets?
The NEC has a lot to say about bathroom outlets and circuits. You should endeavor to adhere to these regulations. Otherwise, you may incur costly penalties:
1). Two Dedicated Circuit
The NEC expects a minimum of two dedicated circuits in each bathroom, one for the outlets and another for the lights.
2). GFCI/AFCI Protected Outlet
All the outlets in a bathroom require GFCI and AFCI protection. GFCIs protect against ground faults. This is important in bathrooms because they expose outlets and their devices to moisture.
AFCIs defend against the consequences of arcing. These days, outlets that combine AFCI and GFCI technology are not that difficult to find. You could also add a GFCI/AFCI breaker to the panel. This would apply AFCI and GFCI protection to all the outlets on the circuit.
3). Minimum One Outlet
Each bathroom requires at least one outlet. This requirement is not that difficult to meet because most people prefer to install multiple bathroom outlets.
4). Tamper Resistance Outlet
The outlets in your bathroom should be tamper-resistant. You are also discouraged from using extension cords in the bathroom.
5). Distance Between Sink & Outlet is 1 Inch
6). Height Should Be No Less Than 15 Inches
The NEC doesn’t have much to say about the height of bathroom outlets. However, the Americans with Disabilities Act expects GFCI outlets to sit between 15 and 48 inches above the floor.
Keep in mind that the local code supersedes the rules of the NEC. While most local regulations tend to mirror the NEC, some local authorities have enacted rules that differ from the standards set by the National Fire Protection Association.
This is why you are encouraged to review your local fire, electrical, and building codes before you take action. If the local codes differ from the NEC, you should follow the local codes.
Where Should Outlets Be Placed in a Bathroom?
Technically speaking, you can place outlets in any location that suits you. It is only rational to install outlets near the individual sinks and inside the drawers and medical cabinets.
But as long as you remember Remodelista’s rule (you need an outlet within 36 inches of the edge of a sink), any location you choose will work. Though, you should ask yourself some basic questions, for instance:
- What does the local code say?
- How many bathroom appliances do you plan to use?
- How far can the power cords of those appliances reach?
- How tall are you?
- Do you have appliances that must charge even when they are not in use?
The answers to these questions will influence your decision. You can also leave this decision in the hands of a professional electrician.
How Many Outlets Are Required in a Bathroom?
The NEC wants to see at least one outlet in each bathroom. Though, it would be more accurate to say that you need one outlet for each sink in the bathroom.
If you have two sinks, you can place a single outlet between them so long as the receptacle is within the 36-inch range of each sink’s outer edge.
How Far Apart Should Outlets Be Spaced in a Bathroom?
The NEC wants to see an outlet within 3 feet of a sink basin’s outer edge. It is also worth noting that they want every point along the wall to be within 6 feet of a receptacle.
The goal is to ensure that the cord of every appliance can reach an outlet regardless of the location of the appliance.
Are All Toilet Outlets the Same Height?
Contractors are not obligated to follow any specific rules where the height of bathroom outlets is concerned, not unless their local code says otherwise. Therefore, they do not have to place the outlets at the same height.
It is common practice to do so. But it is not mandatory. Your electrician will select the option that suits your bathroom best.