Written by Dale Richardson - Updated: June 23, 2023
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When renovating your home, you're going to be asked where you want the sockets in your kitchen. While it may seem as though this is entirely up to preference, it's actually not. The socket height above worktop actually has a few rules and regulations to take into effect - so stay tuned. It's better to read one article than have to redo your whole kitchen, right?.
Socket height above a worktop is regulated in the UK by the NICEIC and has specific rules associated with where sockets must be placed.
There's quite a bit of information to cover here, so let's dive right in, shall we?
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This is (unsurprisingly) regulated by the English government. The National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC) is one of several groups that regulate both training and work on electrical jobs in the UK. You can find a guide to kitchen electrical work right here, but their general guidance is as follows:
“ Electrical sockets or switches should be fitted at a safe distance (it is recommended at least 30cm horizontally) from a sink to avoid the chance of water coming into contact with electricity. Sockets should also be easily accessible.
If appliances such as fridges, dishwashers and washing machines are fitted under worktops, getting to sockets may be difficult. Ideally, these appliances should be controlled by a switched fuse connection unit mounted above the worktop where you can reach it easily.
All new sockets in a house require protection by an RCD (Residual Current Device). An RCD is a sensitive safety device that switches off electricity automatically if there is a fault. It is a life-saving device designed to protect against the risks of electrocution and fire caused by earth faults. “NICEIC
Let's get into the specifics of all that, as there's a bit of information to break down still.
There's no specific rule for the distance of a kitchen socket from your hob. However, there is a general rule of thumb that's become common in recent years.
Try to keep a minimum distance of 300 mm, measured from the edge of a socket to the edge of a freestanding cooker or hob, measuring horizontally.
This allows a bit of safe space to prevent splashes of liquid or food from making their way into the socket. While it's useful to have sockets closer to your hob, it's technically safer to keep them at least 300 mm away. Luckily, though, nobody is going to look at them and tell you that they're not up to regulations.
Just like with all of the below sections, don't ever hesitate to consult with the people renovating your kitchen. More likely than not, they've done this several times and are aware of what to do and what to avoid. If they offer advice, it's from experience, not opinion... usually. So in short, ask for help if needed and actually heed it .
This follows the same basic regulations as above. As a general rule of thumb, try to keep sinks the same distance. This prevents water from making its way to the socket (or at least makes it less likely).
Try to keep your kitchen socket at least 300 mm from the sink.
Another good basic rule is to keep it at "arm's distance." While this is obviously subjective, it's got a reason. You don't want to touch a socket with wet hands - even if you're in a rush. Keeping your worktop depth around 600 mm will keep it out of reach from the sink, assuming it's 300 mm out on either side.
If you're overly concerned about this, you can install a splash guard into the sink out of stainless steel or ceramic to match the sink. It can be made to look decorative, while nobody knows it's to prevent electrocution. Sneaky...
In total, your sockets should be roughly 1060 mm from the floor to the bottom of the socket. This is broken down as follows:
While these are both generalised rules, it's a good basic rule of thumb to keep in mind. If your worktop is slightly thicker or you're too short to use that worktop, it can be changed slightly.
Other things to keep in mind include how you're finishing your walls. If it's a full kitchen remodel, chances are that you're tiling up the wall. If so, you can set the socket box height to suit the tile height. This will let you install the tile more easily and work around the socket.
Additionally, if you have an upstand (a small lip on your worktop) you may want to take that into consideration, too. It's generally best to keep at least 100 mm between the top of the upstand and the bottom of the socket. This will stop plugs from bending against the upstand, eventually damageing them.
When placing your sockets, there are a few things to keep in mind. While there aren't any hard-and-fast rules, it's best to remember that you need to be able to use your kitchen. If that means installing extra sockets, a splash guard, or working around tile - it'll be worth it.
Just remember to keep your sockets at least 150 mm from any source of liquid (sinks, hobs, etc.) and you should be set. Generally, your worktop should be roughly 910 mm tall, and you should keep the same 150 mm of space between the top of your worktop and the bottom of the socket. And seriously - don't be afraid to consult with the people renovating your kitchen. Chances are, they've done this before and know what will and won't work. Listen to them - they do this for a living.
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