A change to the wall spacing requirements has been made to address fixed cabinets, and the wall spacing requirements have been clarified.

210.52(A)(2) Definition of Wall Space.

(1) Any space 2 ft or more in width, unbroken along the floor line by doorways and similar openings, fireplaces, and fixed cabinets.

(2) The space occupied by fixed panels in exterior walls.

(3) The space occupied by fixed room dividers, such as freestanding bar-type counters or guard rails.

(3) Floor Receptacle Outlets. Floor receptacle outlets aren’t counted as the required receptacle wall outlet if they’re located more than 18 in. from the wall.

(4) Countertop Receptacles. Receptacles installed for countertop surfaces as required by 210.52(C) can’t be used to meet the receptacle requirements for wall space as required by 210.52(A). (click here to see Fig. 4)

Analysis: The substantiation for the change to (A)(2)(1) is to deal with kitchen cabinets. Obviously, the Code doesn’t expect a receptacle installed in front of lower kitchen cabinets to satisfy the wall space receptacles of this section. While this makes sense — and seems to be a clarification that’s worth making — it also brings with it technical changes as well. For example, built-in bookcases often consume entire walls in dwelling unit libraries, studies, offices, and similar rooms. With this change, it seems receptacles are no longer required in such bookcases.

Changes made to 210.52(A)(4) have been done to address a fairly odd situation. It’s quite common for a kitchen peninsular or island countertop to create a “wall” between the kitchen and dining room (or other room). When this occurs, 210.52(A)(1) requires receptacles on the back of the peninsula or island in order to accommodate the dining area. In previous NEC editions, the required countertop receptacle could be used to satisfy this requirement, provided the receptacle wasn’t higher than 5½ ft above the floor [210.52(4)]. This not only made for a Code-compliant installation, but also an invitation to have cords stretched across the dining room in order to reach the elevated receptacle. This change eliminates that loophole from the NEC and clearly states that the required countertop receptacles required by 210.52(C) are in addition to any receptacles required in other parts of 210.52(A).

A 15A or 20A, 125V receptacle is now required in dwelling unit accessory buildings.

210.52(G) Dwelling Unit Garage, Basement, and Accessory Building Receptacles.

(1) Not less than one 15A or 20A, 125V receptacle outlet, in addition to any provided for a specific piece of equipment, must be installed in each basement, in each attached garage, and each detached garage or accessory building with electric power.

Analysis: The NEC has long required a 15A or 20A, 125V receptacle for detached dwelling unit garages that are provided with electric power. This Code change recognizes the fact that many accessory buildings to dwellings aren’t garages, but rather workshops, storage sheds, and similar buildings. Storage sheds are often used to house lawn and garden equipment, some of which require electricity for battery charging and other purposes. The NEC now requires a receptacle to be installed in these buildings whenever there’s electric power installed in them (for lighting or similar purposes).

A new requirement to provide receptacles in foyers was added.

210.52(I) Foyer Receptacles. Foyers that aren’t part of a hallway [210.52(H)] having an area greater than 60 sq ft must have a receptacle located on any wall space 3 ft or more in width and unbroken by doorways, floor to ceiling windows, and similar openings.

Analysis: Newer homes are often built with substantial foyers, some of which can be larger than other rooms of the house. In previous editions of the Code, these areas were typically treated as hallways, with only one receptacle being required and only one being installed. This change will now require foyers to have the same receptacle requirements as a bedroom, family room, dining room, or similar area. I guess the only question now is…what’s a foyer?