How Many Outlets Does a House Need?
If you're fed up with hunting for a free outlet to plug in your phone charger or computer, you may wonder if you can install more.
There's no one-size-fits-all answer to how many electrical outlets you need in your home, but understanding the rules around outlets can help you ensure your setup is both practical and safe.
According to Coyne College, the average number of home outlets in the United States is around 75 per house. However, your needs may differ from an average household, so you may need more or fewer to plug in all your essential appliances or gadgets.
Regardless of how many outlets you install, you must ensure they comply with national and local electrical codes. Ignoring the rules when installing outlets won't just land you or your electrician in hot water with the authorities — it could also increase the risk of a house fire or electrocution incident.
The National Electrical Code is a nationwide system dictating how many electrical outlets each room should have in residential properties. It also sets requirements for other parts of your electrical system, such as the number of circuits and electrical boxes.
While most areas use the NEC guidelines, some states and municipalities have their own requirements. Therefore, it's essential to consult your local building department before making changes to your electrical system or installing new outlets.
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How many electrical outlets you need per room depends on the room's function, size and how many appliances you need to plug in. Generally, the NEC requires general living spaces such as bedrooms and living rooms to have an electrical outlet at least every 12 feet and an outlet on any section of wall more than two feet wide.
Bathrooms should have at least one outlet near the sink, while kitchens should have at least one outlet every 4 feet. However, you can install more outlets if needed, provided the circuitry and outlet types are compliant.
Other room-specific NEC rules include:
- Most dining rooms should have at least one outlet for plugging in appliances.
- All garages must have at least one lighting outlet with a separate electrical circuit.
- All laundry rooms must have receptacles for washing machines and dryers with a separate lighting circuit. Outlets used for electric dryers must have a separate circuit.
- Rooms prone to moisture, such as kitchens and bathrooms, should usually have GFCI outlets, but rules may depend on the appliance type.
There's no nationwide rule stating how many outlets you can install per square foot of wall, and local codes may have different requirements. Generally, electrical codes dictate outlet spacing in linear feet. Duplex outlets (outlets with two plug receptacles) can be a handy solution if you need more than one receptacle in a single square foot of wall space.
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