210.52[C]- The Peninsular Project
By Paul W. Abernathy, NEC Columnist & Consultant
Requirements for the correct location and placement of a receptacle on a peninsular are found in Article 210, Part III. It is more specifically found in subsection 210.52[C]. The National Electrical Code informs us that at least (1) one receptacle is required for each peninsular that has a countertop dimension of 24 inches or greater for the long dimension and 12 inches or greater for the short dimension. Many people believe that in order for a countertop space to be considered a peninsular, it must be connected to another countertop space. This is not what the National Electrical Code® is saying at all. The last sentence of 210.52[C]  we notice the following sentence; “A peninsular countertop is measured from the connecting edge”. The language of the NEC® does not say the connecting edge must be to another countertop space. If the application were to be applied to a freestanding countertop with one side connected directly to a wall would this be considered a peninsular? Yes, this would be a peninsular and the requirements of 210.52[C] would apply.
In examining the entire section of 210.52[C], We find that once we establish that we have a peninsular countertop space, our next goal is to determine where we can locate the required receptacle per 210.52[C]. Let us assume that we have a peninsular countertop space that is connected to the wall countertop space. Are we required to install a receptacle at the peninsular since the receptacle for the countertop wall space is already provided? This answer is simple. Yes, we must meet the requirements of 210.52[C] if the length from the connection edge to the countertop space is the minimum lengths stated earlier and as given in the language of 210.52[C]. Many people then ask where do I install this receptacle since the NEC® says in subsection 210.52[C] that “ Receptacle outlets shall be located above, but not more than 20 inches above the countertop”. The electrician must then look to 210.52, Exception  for guidance. In the exception it states that where the entire surface of the countertop has no backsplashes, dividers, etc., the receptacles mounted below the countertop shall be permitted as long as it is are not mounted more than 12 inches below the countertop surface and where not located below an overhang that exceeds 6 inches.
Now lets examine one of the misunderstood applications of a freestanding, 3 sided, wall connected peninsular. The question that gets asked all the time and was clarified by the NFPA® is this. If the peninsular is connected to a wall and I install a receptacle on the short sidewall. Does this meet the requirement of 210.52[C] or do I also have to install a receptacle at the end of the peninsular? The answer to this question lies in the understanding of what a peninsular is. We have defined it earlier and together examined that it is based on the connecting edge regardless of it being to a countertop space or connected to a wall. If the receptacle were placed on the wall it would meet all the requirements of 210.52[C] and no additional receptacle would be required because this is a peninsular by nature, by design and by intent.
Let us ask yet another question. Is the receptacle on the sidewall required if available before being able to apply the exceptions to 210.52, Exception ? This is another question that I get asked a lot and feel needs clarification. The exception given in 210.52, Exception  is for countertop spaces on the peninsular with no backsplashes, dividers, etc along its entire surface. If the connecting edge is to a typical countertop then you would not have any backsplash, divider or wall to contend with in the example and the exception would apply. However, if the peninsular in question has a connecting edge to a wall then the receptacle would be placed on the wall space to serve the peninsular and meet 210.52[C].
Here is yet another question that is asked a lot when traveling around the country doing NEC® seminars. What if I place a sink in the middle of a peninsular countertop space, does this change the countertop space? In this example we look at subsection 210.52 [C] itself. If the sink, range or counter-mounted cooking unit is installed in the peninsular countertop we have to determine if the space behind the sink, range or counter-mounted cooking unit is less than 12 inches. If this space is less than 12 inches then we have two different countertop spaces on this peninsular. As long as the dimensions of each space has a short dimension of 12 inches and a long dimension of 24 inches a receptacle per 210.52[C] would be required for each peninsular countertop spaces.
Copyright 2009- The Electrical Guru & Electrical Service Specialists
Content Resources & Quotes: NFPA®, National Fire Protection Associations and the National Electrical Code NFPA 70.