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Electrical Codes for Porches
Essential for Safety and Security

Here are some basic electrical codes you need to know if you are considering any type of wiring for your porch.

Codes are written to keep you safe, protect your property, and prevent accidents. Please take our advice: Don't take short cuts - follow the codes.



Disclaimer Note: The information we provide is not intended as instructional nor as "certified" electrical information for installation purposes. It is INFORMATIONAL ONLY for porch electrical systems and should not be construed otherwise.

Also note that electrical codes are subject to change over time and vary by geographical area. Consult with your local building codes department to ensure you are in compliance

man wiring front porch lights

We recommend always consulting a professional electrician and/or your local electrical codes inspector prior to doing any electrical work. Rules differ by state and local jurisdictions - always consult with your local electrical codes department. Read more about permits and codes.

cover of the national electrical codes book The following is general code information to make you aware of some of the requirements. This does not detail every electrical code but rather will give you a good sense of what is required. I like to refer to the National Electrical Code Book.

Even if you've done your own wiring I'm sure you'll find something you didn't know. If you aren't familiar with these, I'd highly recommend that you not do the wiring yourself -hire a professional electrician.

Exterior Wiring Requirements

  • Use underground feeder (UF) cable for outdoor wiring needs
  • Use ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) protected receptacles
  • Install receptacles a minimum of 12" above ground level
  • Use only weather-proof electrical boxes with watertight covers
  • Plan on installing a 20-amp, 120 volt circuit if the circuit contains more than one light fixture rated for 300 watts or more than four receptacles
  • Run cable in rigid metal or schedule 40 PVC plastic as required by local code
  • Check for underground utilities prior to digging



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  • Use switches with grounding screws whenever possible. Always ground switches installed in plastic electrical boxes and all switches where water is an issue.
  • Ground all receptacles by connecting receptacle grounding screws to the circuit grounding wires.

Light Fixtures

  • Use straps that are anchored to the box to mount ceiling fixtures
  • Keep recessed lights 3" from insulation and 1/2" from combustibles


  • Match the amp rating of a receptacle with the size of the circuit
  • outdoor receptacle
  • Place receptacles so a 6' cord can be plugged in from any point along a wall or every 12' along a wall
  • Use three-prong, grounded receptacles for all 15 or 20 amp, 120 volt branch circuits
  • Install GFCI receptacles
  • Install an isolate-ground circuit to protect sensitive equipment like computers


  • Locate all switches within easy reach
  • Use switches with grounding screw with plastic electrical boxes
  • Use three-way switches at the top and bottom of stairs with six steps or more

Electrical Boxes

  • Use boxes that are large enough to handle the number of wires entering the box (boxes are rated)
  • Locate boxes 12" from floor (may be placed higher)
  • Locate switch boxes 48" from floor (may be placed higher or lower to accommodate special needs)
  • Leave at least 8" of usable cable extending past the front of the box


  • Use wires that are large enough for the amperage rating of the circuit
  • Drill holes at least 2" back from the exposed edge of joists to run cables through
  • Do not attach cables to the bottom of joists
  • Do not run cables diagonally between framing members
  • Do not crimp cables sharply
  • Contain spliced wires or connections entirely in the box
  • Use wire connectors to join wires
  • Use staples every within 8" of a box and every 48" along its run to secure the wire

and more line

Outdoor Kitchens

  • Install a dedicated 40 or 50 amp, 120/240 volt circuit for a range (or two circuits for separate oven and counter top units)
  • Install two 20 amp small appliance circuits
  • Install dedicated 15-amp, 120 volt circuits for dishwashers and disposals
  • Use GFCI receptacles for all accessible counter top receptacles
  • Include receptacles on all counters wider than 12"
  • Mount one receptacles within 12" of the countertop on islands that are 12" x 24" or greater
  • Do not put lights on small appliance circuits

Again, these are just some of the general codes you should know; there are many, many more.

Always consult a professional electrician to ensure your wiring needs are assessed correctly.


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