How Many Outlets per Room?

Suppose you’re constructing a new house, renovating, or installing more outlets. In that case, you might be curious about how many outlets you require per room as a minimum, where they should be located, and what type of outlets are required.

The minimum requirements for the number of outlets vary by room. The second column in the table below specifies the requirements for each room type.

*The information in this article on how many outlets you need per room is according to the NEC (National Electrical Code) and IRC (International Residential Code) requirements for homes in the United States.

Minimum Outlet Requirements Per Room

Before detailing the minimum outlet requirements per room type, here is a table summarising this information.

RoomMinimum RequirementOther Requirements
BathroomONE within 3 feet of each basin• Either on the adjacent wall or the sink cabinet’s face (or inside), within 12 inches below the countertop.
• NO outlet must be directly above or within a shower or tub.
• GFCI protection is essential near the sink.
ExteriorTWO (one each front and back)• Within 6 ½ feet of the ground.
• Must have GFCI protection.
• Must have a weatherproof cover.
FoyerONE EACH on every wall space at least 3 feet in width if the floor space is more than 60 square feetSee below under ‘Foyers.’
GarageOne, plus one per parking bay• On a 20-amp dedicated circuit. • GFCI/AFCI protection is essential.
HallwayONE (if at least 10 feet long)See below under ‘Hallways.’
KitchenTWO 20-amp ones for appliances, and ONE EACH within 2 feet of the back of every counter• Within 20 inches above countertops.
• No outlet above the sink.
• Dishwasher outlet must have GFCI protection.
Room (bedroom, living room, dining, etc.)ONE EACH within 6 feet of every point along each wall such that each outlet is not more than 12 feet apart• One on every wall over 2 feet long.
• No outlet above heaters.


There should be one outlet within 3 feet of each wash basin.

It should be located either on the adjacent wall, inside the basin cabinet, or on the cabinet’s face, such that it is within 12 inches of the countertop (as per NEC 210.52(D)). It is NOT recommended to be located directly above (or behind) the basin/sink due to the risk of the electrical cord falling inside while it has water inside.

However, you may find no outlet near a bathroom basin or sink in older American homes. Instead, you might see one under the light fixture above it. It is also not often found near some handyman bathroom remodels.

Where there is an outlet near a basin, it is also required for it to have GFCI electric shock protection. It can be located within the outlet, connected to an outlet in an adjacent room, or a circuit breaker in the main panel.

Additional outlets are not required anywhere else in bathrooms, and under no circumstances must there be one either directly above or within the area of a shower or bathtub.

image 1
An outlet near (but not above) a bathroom sink [IGS Energy]


Closets are among the spaces that don’t require an outlet.

This is per NEC 210.52(A) because a closet is defined as “a non-habitable room or space intended primarily for storing garments or apparel.”

However, if you choose to have an outlet in a closet because you need one there, it must be AFCI-protected (as per NEC 210.12(B)). Some people have outlets in large walk-in closets for use, for example, by an iron or dehumidifier.

In short, if your closet looks more like a dressing room than a wardrobe, fit an AFCI-protected outlet.


In exterior spaces, at least one outlet must be at the front of the house and one on the back wall.

This has been required since 2005, before which only one was required in the older NEC 1971. These receptacles should be within 6 ½ feet of the ground or walking surface and have GFCI protection.

Since NEC 2008, however, an outlet is also required (one each) in a porch, deck, and balcony that is at least 20 square feet if it is accessible from inside the home. The extra outlets are needed to satisfy the need for outdoor living spaces.

Besides GFCI protection, an exterior outlet must also have a weatherproof cover due to exposure to rain and moisture.

outdoor power outlet with a waterproof cover
An outdoor power outlet with a waterproof cover [David Gray Online]


A foyer only needs outlets if it covers over 60 square feet.

Every wall space should have an outlet equal to or greater than 3 feet in width (as per NEC 201.52(I)). Doorways, windows beside doors that extend to the floor, and other such places are not treated as wall space.


A garage only requires at least one outlet on a 20-amp dedicated circuit.

There should also be one per parking bay (as per NEC 211.10(C)(4) since 2014 due to the increasing need for them).

The main outlet must be GFCI-type and connected to the other outlets to offer them the same level of shock protection. It can also be connected to nearby exterior outlets but not those in other rooms.

As garages are exposed to gasoline fumes, the outlets must not be under 18 inches from the floor. These outlets in the parking bays must be AFCI-protected.


Hallways only require an outlet if they are at least 10 feet long.

So the minimum is for one outlet only if it is 10 feet or longer (as per IRC E3901.10). If it is longer, you don’t need additional outlets, as it’s not a requirement, but you can if you want, and you are not prohibited from having one if the hallway is less than 10 feet.


Kitchens require several power outlets.

power outlets above a kitchen counter
Power outlets above a kitchen counter [ArchAngel Electric]

The requirement is to have at least two 20-amp ones for high-power appliances, such as refrigerators, ideally on dedicated circuits. The outlet for the dishwasher must have GFCI protection.

Additionally, one should be within 2 feet (24 inches) of the back of every counter at least 12 inches wide, i.e., they should be spaced no more than 2 feet apart. Also, they must not be more than 20 inches above the countertop and not be facing upward on the countertop itself. If you have an island or peninsula countertop, they are included as a countertop, so they should also have at least one outlet.

However, it would be best if you did not place an outlet directly above a kitchen sink, as it doesn’t count as a countertop unless the space behind it is more than 1 foot (12 inches). Also, the kitchen outlet serving countertops must have GFCI shock protection.

Other Rooms

A room includes living rooms, bedrooms, dining rooms, dens, sunrooms, etc., i.e., those not covered elsewhere in this article.

The minimum spacing requirement for rooms used as living spaces is to have an outlet within 6 feet of every baseline along each wall, and the maximum spacing between receptacles is 12 feet.

Every wall at least 2 feet long counts as wall space that must have an outlet, and there must be at least one on every such wall. Certain places, such as fireplaces, don’t count as wall space, and an outlet must NOT be placed directly above a heater (whether electric or non-electric). Also, outlets along the floor should have ‘rated’ covers to protect the slots when the outlet is not in use.

The spacing requirement ensures all appliances with standard-length cords are not too far from an outlet. This standard has remained the same since NEC 1956. Previously, the spacing requirement was 20 feet. As a result, older homes typically have fewer outlets. For example, in the 1940s, having only one outlet per room was not uncommon.

Special Outlets, Trends, and Child Safety

Outlet USA GFCI-ReceptacleOutlet USA AFCI-tamperproofOutlet USA GFCI-AFCI dual outlet
A GFCI outletAn AFCI outletA dual GFCI-AFCI outlet

Here, I’ve covered the reasons behind needing more outlets nowadays and about the special outlets available:

  • GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) – Use these in all areas that may be exposed to water.
  • AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter) – Use these in all areas where fire protection is important.
  • Tamper-resistant – Use these in all areas concerned about child safety.
  • Weather-resistant (covers) – Use these to cover external outlets exposed to weather conditions.

You can buy outlets with GFCI or AFCI protection or combine both features. Outwardly, they might differ or look similar, but internally, they will be different. Tamper-proof and weatherproof are additional features that can apply to any outlet.

Another type of outlet you might be interested in installing is those with USB ports, but this would be more for convenience than safety.

More Outlets than in the Past

You may have noted that NEC rules increasingly require more outlets than in the past.

This is to cope with the increasing demand for them and safety reasons. For example, the outdoor living trend has made it more popular for people to place furniture on their porches, enjoy barbecues, and have tiki huts. An outlet in these areas is safer than extension cords, which people can accidentally trip over.

You will also notice the same thing for kitchens because modern kitchens differ from how they were a few decades ago. Kitchens nowadays require more outlets because of the increasing number of kitchen appliances.

Areas Requiring a GFCI/AFCI Outlet

While ordinary outlets suffice in most areas of the home, you may have noticed that a special GFCI outlet is required in the following areas:

  • Bathrooms
  • Exterior (outdoors)
  • Garage

In short, a GFCI outlet is necessary for all areas exposed to moisture or water.

Additionally, AFCI-protected outlets should be used where fire protection is important. This is to protect against arcing that could cause an explosion. It is also why outlets in garages exposed to gasoline fumes must not be lower than 18 inches from the floor.

Areas Not Requiring an Outlet

I mentioned above that certain areas don’t require an outlet. An outlet is NOT required in the following areas:

  • Closets (see above for an exception)
  • Fireplaces and directly above electric heaters
  • Foyers less than 60 square feet
  • Shower or tub – either above or within it
  • Wall spaces less than 2 feet in length

Fireplaces, the space above electric heaters, showers, and bathtubs are places where there must NOT be an outlet for safety reasons. Not even a GFCI or AFCI outlet should be placed in them.

Child Safety

To protect against water splashes, we have GFCI outlets, and to protect against fire, we have AFCI outlets. But what about child safety?

Having plenty of outlets in the home is a great convenience. It is also safer than using extension cords. But when an outlet is placed close to floor level, we must also consider child safety. Curious toddlers may be too eager to stick something inside, and it might be a metallic object, such as a spoon or a finger.

If this concerns you, I suggest you place only tamper-proof outlets in areas a toddler can reach. They have spring-loaded shutters that keep the slots closed and only open when you insert standard cord prongs.

Outlet USA AFCI-tamperproof
A tamper-proof AFCI outlet

Image References

ArchAngel Electric (Power outlets above a kitchen counter):

David Gray Online (Outdoor power outlet with waterproof cover):

IGS Energy (An outlet near (but not above) a bathroom sink):

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About Sam Orlovsky

b1d87d2ee85af3e51479df87928bdc88?s=90&d=mm&r=gCertifications: B.E.E.
Education: University Of Denver - Electric Engineering
Lives In: Denver Colorado

Electrical engineering is my passion, and I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years. This gives me a unique ability to give you expert home improvement and DIY recommendations. I’m not only an electrician, but I also like machinery and anything to do with carpentry. One of my career paths started as a general handyman, so I also have a lot of experience with home improvement I love to share.

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