Kitchen Socket Height Above Worktop (everything you need to know)
If you’re installing a new kitchen or want to add an electrical socket in your kitchen, there are a few things you need to understand before starting.
New regulations have been introduced by the UK government for the safe height that sockets can be installed in new properties.
This new legislation states that the height of any socket in a kitchen has to be at least 100 mm (4 inches) above the worktop.
Please note: Before undertaking any electrical work you should be completely certain in your abilities. If you are in any doubt whatsoever, you should contact a fully qualified electrician. Also ensure you are up to date on all the latest building regulations as changing your home electrics could contravene new rules and invalidate your home insurance.
UK Socket Height Regulations
As we said earlier, the height of electrical sockets in kitchens in the UK is now covered by building regulations. However, if you are refurbishing your existing home, carrying out home improvements or even building an extension on to your existing home, these new regulations don’t apply. You can install electric sockets at the same height as existing sockets.
All of the relevant legislation can be found here on the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC) PDF. To summarise it states:
- Sockets and switches should be fitted at a safe distance from a sink (at least 30 cm (12 inches) horizontally from a sink).
- Sockets need to be easily accessible.
- Sockets for under worktop appliances should be sited above the worktop by a switched fused connection unit.
- All new sockets have to be protected by a RCD (Residual Current Device).
What Is An RCD?
An RCD is a safety device which cuts electrical power as soon as a fault is detected. It operates automatically, and is designed to save lives and protect against electrocution and fire caused by faulty earth connections etc.
What About The Distance Of A Socket From A Hob?
Currently, there are no specific rules relating to the distance of a socket from a hob, but there is a generally accepted non official rule that has become pretty standard over the last few years.
The generally accepted rule is that sockets should be at least 300 mm (12 inches) measured from the socket edge to the top of the hob or freestanding cooker horizontally.
This should allow enough safe space to prevent any liquids splashing the socket. In many cases, it might seem that 300 mm is too far away for practical reasons, and to be fair it is safer. However, if your existing electrical socket is closer than 300 mm, it’s not in breach of any regulations.
What About The Distance Of A Socket From The Sink?
This is actually covered in UK Government legislation which states that sockets and switches should be fitted at a safe distance from a sink (at least 300 mm (12 inches) horizontally from the sink. It makes sense that you shouldn’t be able to reach an electrical socket with wet hands.
So assuming you’re using a standard worktop which will measure 910 mm high, the socket should then sit at around 1060 mm from the floor to the bottom of the socket. As long as the socket is 300 mm above the sink horizontally, you still have plenty of options.
What About Cooker Sockets?
If you are planning on cooking using electricity, in some cases, your oven should be hardwired into the wall using a flex outlet. Some cookers need a 45A switch on the wall or a cooker control unit which will offer a 45A switch for the oven as well as a plug socket for other appliances.
Tiling The Kitchen
If you’re tiling the kitchen, you could ensure the socket starts at a height which allows you to set the tiles around the socket easier. If your worktop has an upstand, we would recommend measuring 100 mm from the top of the upstand to ensure that the cable doesn’t kink or get damaged if it has to bend.
As things currently stand in the UK plug sockets in the kitchen need to be at least 100 mm above any worktops. But, if it suits your needs better to place them even higher, that’s OK.
There’s no problem with placing sockets higher than the 100 mm; it’s just any lower which is in breach of the legislation.
How High Should Wall Sockets Be Placed In A Kitchen?
According to UK building regulations, wall mounted sockets should be placed so that they can be easily reached in the room. This gives you plenty of leeway but as a general rule, it is best to install wall sockets anywhere between 450 mm to 1200 mm up from the floor.
How Many Sockets Does A Kitchen Need?
For kitchens which are anywhere between 12 to 25 square metres we would recommend installing at least 8 double sockets, more if your kitchen is larger. If you consider which appliances you’ll need in your kitchen and allow a double socket for each, and then think about other devices like tablets and smart speakers, etc.
We would suggest installing double sockets with integrated USB outlets in high device traffic areas. Don’t forget about any regulations concerning sockets around sinks and cookers, but remember a lot of work happens in kitchens so you will need plenty of sockets.
It might also be an idea to isolate any large appliances like fridges. This can be done with a socket or it might be more practical to use a fused switch for each large appliance. These can be hidden away so long as you can easily access them to isolate them when necessary.
How Many Appliances Can You Plug Into Each Socket?
It is perfectly fine to use both outlets on a double socket as well as both USB outlets as well. It is important to plan your kitchen so that you can avoid using extension cables to run your appliances. Extension cables can be dangerous because if you overload the socket by adding an extension cable it could lead to electrocution or fire.
In the US, extension cables cause around 3,000 fires per year and over 250 personal injuries. We don’t have any data for the UK but you don’t want to run the risk of injury or fire just because you misused a socket by overloading an extension cable.
How Many Appliances Can You Plug Into An Extension Cable?
The problem here is that not all electrical equipment uses the same amount of power. An electric kettle will use 20 times more electricity than a fridge, which means it can be very difficult to calculate exactly how much power is running through an extension cable at any one time.
Never at any time, plug an extension cable into another extension cable. This is known as “daisy chaining” and can lead to overheating and fires.
As a general rule, we recommend only using electrical extension cables which have their own fuse. These will shut off if there is any problem which makes them the safest option.
Frequently Asked Questions
Electrical sockets or switches should be placed at least 300 mm horizontally from a sink and at least 100 mm above a worktop.
Sockets have to be at least 300 mm horizontally from the edge of a freestanding cooker or hob.
You should never overload plug sockets by using extension cables and fitting too many electrical appliances into them.