Help needed with kitchen changes . . . pesky electricity!

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jakabedy
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Help needed with kitchen changes . . . pesky electricity!

Postby jakabedy » Tue Dec 01, 2009 9:25 am

We're in the midst of putting new slab-front cabinets in our kitchen and have to make a decision regarding our island. It's more of a continent, really -- it's the roughly 18'-long side of our open galley. I've been looking at it too long and fear I have lost all objectivity.

What we are working with:
Image
Image

The dilemma: the outlets are currently in the countertop, which doesn't meet code. The brick wall is a single-brick in depth, and we're not wanting to try to channel/cut into that to place outlets. But they have to go somewhere. We are firmly at the junction of originality, necessity and personal preference.

Given the garden area in front of the island, we are not considering a traditional overhang/seating arrangement. We are considering going to a flat island without the raised backsplash area. We are keeping the brick. Nothing will be plugged into these outlets full-time. Our options:

1) Keep the raised section of the brick wall and the pony walls on the sides. Pull cabinets forward to allow for a deeper backsplash and build the outlets into the backsplash. Rebuild planter boxes wider to cover the new wider backsplash wall. (This keeps the outlets in the center of the work spaces, keeps the garden as the focus, and is the most "original" option).

2) Keep the raised section of the brick wall and existing planter boxes and lose the pony walls on the sides, replacing with cover panels. Put outlets in cover panels on either end of the island. (Less carpentry involved, but outlets are sequestered to the ends of the countertop).

3) Lose the planter boxes and three courses of brick and make the countertop flat and deeper. Lose pony walls and put outlets in cover panels on ends of cabinet. (This is the more modern, flat island option, and makes the kitchen more of a focal point).

We considered plugmold, but I'm not sure I like the look and I'm not sure it meets code. It also means that anything plugged in has its cord hanging off the front of the cabinet -- not optimal. We already have the cabinets, so there is no way to leave filler spots between cabinets to mount the outlets on the front of the cabinets. Putting the outlet in a drawer front is an option, but I'm not sure I like the look.

Thoughts? Should we just move?
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Joe
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Postby Joe » Tue Dec 01, 2009 11:07 am

option 1 make the most sense. rather than pull cabinets forward, locate two outlets in the planter. place them sideways. you may need to rebuild the planter, but you're only talking two plug boxes and a conduit running along the inside wall of the planter.

option 2 could work. don't like option 3.

maybe consider other plug options, like a thin strip of plugs along the backsplash.

I like the large planting bed to be the focal point, so losing the planter on the backsplash may be an option too. simply rebuild the backsplash to accommodate the new electrical plugs. again, turn sideways to reduce of height of backsplash wall

good luck!

egads
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Postby egads » Tue Dec 01, 2009 2:06 pm

Besides the current code not allowing the plugs in the top of the counter, current code would require more plugs than just the ends. That kind of makes option 1 your best move. I do like the wall hiding the necessary mess of a kitchen. Mounting the plugs sideways is a good idea. current code is:

Countertop receptacles shall be installed so that no point along the wall is more than 24" measured horizontally from a receptacle outlet in that space.

So that means no more than 48" apart. They all need to be GFCI protected. That can be just the first plug an a run of them. Current code now also requires that the circuit be 20 amps. It is very likely a house of your vintage already has at least 2 20 amp appliance circuits.

How many plugs are there now? How does the disposal switch?

jakabedy
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Postby jakabedy » Tue Dec 01, 2009 2:39 pm

egads -

The code is actually different for a wall-backed countertop vs. a peninsula or island. The every 48" rule is for cabinets against the wall. For an island/peninsula, there just has to be one outlet for any counter area greater than 24". The sink serves as a divider, so we have two such areas.

The current outlets are on a 20-amp circuit, and the disposal and dishwasher are on a separate circuit. There are two outlets currently. They are equidistant between the sink and pony walls (where the phone is in the picture).

The disposal switch is under the sink -- we're planning to relocate that to an air switch on the countertop near the sink.
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egads
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Postby egads » Tue Dec 01, 2009 4:58 pm

There are separate rules for peninsulas & islands, however, because you do have that pony wall, the other rules apply. In any case it would be foolish to put less than 4 outlets on a counter that long.

Now in case you are not having anything inspected, I do have another idea for you. Place outlets inside the lower cabinets and use a desk grommet to pass cords down. This would be my first choice for items that are permanently plugged in, like the cordless phone base or a coffee makers and grinders. Then only a couple of easily accessible outlets would be needed.

But having lived in some very old houses, I say you can't have too many plugs!

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Postby jakabedy » Tue Dec 01, 2009 7:09 pm

Hmmm. I didn't realize the pony wall was a "wall" in that sense. That makes it purt near impossible to do it right. I think that puts me back to #1, so the outlets can go anywhere on the backsplash. And if I'm stuck with the outlet-within-two-feet rule, then there will be four of those puppies, all marching like little soldiers (or lying down like lazy soldiers) across the backsplash.

Joe - the planter boxes are actually sort of flimsy things that lift off, so we don't need to put the power in them. And the wall is constructed thusly: single course of brick, 1/2" plywood, cabinets. There just isn't a feasible way to put the outlets in or run conduit through the 'splash. Hence, the pulling forward of cabinet and insertion of a 2 x 4-thick wall in front of the brick.

I actually think these are pretty slick, if I were comfortable going with another in-counter outlet.

http://www.lewelectric.com/cfm/res_win1n.cfm?pufpID=18
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egads
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Postby egads » Tue Dec 01, 2009 7:30 pm

Pricey, but so are these:

http://www.mockett.com/furniture-hardwa ... on-systems

Mockett also is the supplier for regular grommets. Any of the pop ups could be used if fed from a GFCI plug. But really, is your kitchen ever going to be so pristine that a few plugs in the splash are going to make a difference? Just make sure you match them color-wise to the splash material. In fact being able to match them may effect that color decision. Although Lutron has a lot of colors available:

http://www.lutron.com/products/ColorsOf ... atin&cid=0

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Postby johnnyapollo » Wed Dec 02, 2009 8:10 am

Personally, I would mount the lines in protected (shielded) conduit across the top of the wall, with the tails protruding into the backsplash in shallow boxes (or even better, mount the outlets in modified planter boxes).

My rationale is that if the planters are so flimsy, it would be easier and cheaper to modify the boxes so the wiring and outlets are actually part of the planters. If you rebuild the planters slightly taller the wiring would be hidden in a cavity beneath. If you made them as tall as an electrical box turned sideways, the wiring and outlets could be contained in a "base" made of wood or similar material that the planters would ride on. No cutting necessary, and the biggest task would be to hide the electrical going into the floor (or wherever else you decided to tie in - best would be a dedicated 20 amp line all the way back to the panel).

Hope that made sense - it would raise the height of the planters by about 3 inches but woudn't require any cutting or moving of the existing cabinets or wall.

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Postby redneckmodern » Wed Dec 02, 2009 9:12 am

i like johnny's idea... how about this modification? build a utility "tunnel" along the top of the wall and re-build the planter on top of it. you could face the planter/backsplash with most anything... i'd think 1/4in cement board with a nice, large tile that would seem "kitchen" as well as "planter-skirt" appropriate. the structure of the tunnel could be short-chopped 2X4s (or 1X4s if code/structure allowed) or metal studs. then the electrical would be run within this as if it were a regular wall. wrapping the top of the tunnel with bitchathane wouldn't be a bad idea in case the planter leaked... i like the idea of the wall creating a separation b/w the planting area and the kitchen. if the height of the wall were an issue with this mod, you could loose one course of brick to make room... but a flat island might make it seem as if you're cooking in a rainforest and you'd be looking at the back of appliances coming into the house -- the wall hides sins. (btw: any chance of eliminating some of those pots and planting into the ground?)... you could also eliminate the planter box altogether and just make it a flat-topped shelf-wall (with vases, a plant or two -- or nothing). we had a long shelf-wall like this in our old place. it was quite handy - nice and uncluttered.

Image
Image

egads
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Postby egads » Wed Dec 02, 2009 12:52 pm

I think the planter solutions would be good if the cabinets needed to be saved. But in this case new flush face cabinets will be installed. So the existing are coming out in any case. (unless the new cabinets are not yet bought and refacing would be an option) In any case I do like the idea of losing the wall top planter completely. But I still would want the wall to "block" some views on that counter.


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