First of all, here is a disclaimer. I am no electrical engineer. The following comments are based on what the electrician is telling us is code. I haven’t personally memorized the entire code, so I probably shouldn’t be complaining. But I will anyway. I am used to dealing with life safety/building codes. They can often be maddening, but for the most part, you can understand that the intent is to save peoples lives in case of a fire or other emergency.
Electrical codes are also for public safety, but we’ve come across a few items that don’t seem to be about safety, but rather about making sure electricians have plenty of work!
After meeting with the electrician and going over all the outlets and switches, we’ve had to add a number of outlets to meet code. For a household that is trying to reduce energy use and limit outlets in the exterior walls, this is a bit frustrating. We’ll get over it someday, but meanwhile, here’s my complaint list:
#1. We laid out the outlets at the kitchen countertops to avoid having outlets under the windows. There is minimal space between the countertop backsplash and the window sill, so we kept the outlets to the sides of the windows. According to “code”, we need to have outlets on either side of the sink, so we now have 4 outlets under the windows where we didn't want them and don't need them. Exactly what would I be plugging in so close to the sink and why is that safe?
#2: Code requires a whole lot of outlets along counters within a kitchen- every 4’. Just how many small appliances do they think we have? We have a toaster and a food processer- but that’s about it. The microwave is built-in. Kevin doesn’t believe in using a electric hand mixer and I can forget about ever getting a breadmaker because of his feelings on that... Why would we need so many outlets? I know the intent is to avoid extension cords, but this is excessive I think.
#3: We have a wall in the dining room that will be for side board storage cabinets. We didn’t want outlets behind the storage, so we planned on putting one above the top of the cabinet. This apparently doesn’t meet code, they need to be at least every 10’ and high outlets don’t count. Why not?
#4: Closet lighting. Exposed bulbs and pull chain fixtures are not allowed. So in a couple of existing closets in our house, the electrician had to remove the fixtures. These small closets don’t really warrant a switched fixture, so we’re just going to have to have dark closets. I understand this is about fire safety, but I wonder how many fires have started from light bulbs in closets?
#5: Bathroom lighting. Only recessed light fixtures can be installed above a bath tub. Our bathtub is separate from the shower, so there is really no way that water from the tub could reach the light fixture. We are trying to avoid recessed light fixtures where the ceiling is insulated (MN GreenStar item), so we have not choice but to eliminate the fixtures over the bathtub. Why is a recessed fixture over the tub safe, while a surface-mounted fixture isn't?
Okay, that’s enough ranting for now. Please feel free to enlighten me!
Here is a link to some of the residential electrical requirements that might be helpful to those planning a project.
Quote from the office today: "Photoshop was invented because of electrical wires."