so, a customer wants an outlet inside a permanently installed reecessed cabinet in his bathroom. I'm planning on using a retro box, cut right into the side of the cabinet, run wire, wait for rock, cut hole in cabinet, pull wire in, mount box to cabinet. Alternately I was thinking of using a wiremold box mounted to the back, w/ a short piece of wirewold going out the side of the cabinet. Anyone see any problems with this? Code or otherwise? this will not be the primary receticle in the bathroom, and it will be GFI protected. With all the plug-in shavers, toothbrushes, hydronic-sonic teeth cleaners today I think this might become a pretty common request, anyone with any comments or concerns?
I would definately check with the AHJ... Where I am, unless it is a "permanently installed" appliance such as a dishwasher or a garburetor and the receptacle is intended for said appliance, you are NOT permitted to install a receptacle in a cabinet.. The exception to the rule I believe is if the receptacle is only energized when the cabinet door is FULLY open then it is allowed ( this is intended for those "appliance garages" you see in kitchens). Reason being its too easy for someone to mistakenly shove an appliance such as a toaster or in your case in a bathroom a hair dryer or curling iron thats still on into the cabinet, along with all sorts of other things (linens and other "spare parts"), close the door, heat builds and a fire starts.
I agree with you renosteinke to a point of the intention of the receptacle will determine it the outlet should be allowed. Bare in mind that the codes and local ordinances also aid in the protection of the poeple who will work on the power supply and future occupants of the house as well. I sure would hate to be the one who has to service an receptacle through one of those appliance cubbies. Not only it would be extremely awkward position to work in, I would be very concern that the connection were tight and nothing got pinched while installing the receptacle. Keep in mind that all junction boxes must be accessible. These shoud be considered as well. I am a believer that the homeowner has a right to do what he or she chooses to do with thier home. At the same time, they need to know what they are truly doing. Hence building codes, ordinancnes and inspectors for the interpetations. It may not be a perfect system but it works.
I am somewhat surprised that there would be any concern about placing a receptacle in a cupboard.
With our plethora of rechargeable appliances .... phones, razors, hair clippers, drink mixers, etc., I can see a real use for receptacles in cabinets and closets.
Indeed, many computer desks, with their mounted power strips, are essentially 'furniture with outlets inside.'
Can things go awry? Sure they can .... but at some point we have to leave room for change.
I agree there has to be room for change but peoples behaviour does not have an expiry date for doing dumb things. There is no way I would permit this plug in a cupboard unless it shut off with the door closed. Be careful about computer desks as many of those are not listed and field modifications. They are not office furniture where the wiring is part of a UL listed electrified desk. I realize that many of these things are not abused but if you put your CPU in an enclosed garage the computer will crap out or the power supply will eventually fail even in flames. If it is possible for a 17 year old girl, or boy for that matter, to leave a heat producing appliance connected inside a cabinet it will eventually lead to a fire. Some one somewhere will do this and i know that there are people every where putting receptacles in cabinets for their shaver or toothbrush and never have a hazard until they sell the house to some big haired curling iron packing person of questionable sense.
I would bounce it off the AHJ first. The problem I see is that cords getting shut in the door. If it is a subsitute for the required receptacle per NEC that I would discourage it.
The code required recepticle will be about 5 feet to the right and below the cabinet.
IMO it is far more likely for someone to plug an appliance into that recepticle and then put it into the cabinet still plugged in (thus closing the chord in the door) than vice-versa also I can't see a 2-oz plastic cabinet door with a week magnetic clasp damaging any chord
Also, I've seen the aftermath of dropping a straghtening iron onto a carpeted floor (fire). However this recept. will actually be less convenient to plug into than the one right next to the sink (the med cabinet is to the left of the vanity mirror, and the recepticle will be facing the wrong direction). plus fires CAN occur in a lot of ways, I doubt a poorly insulated cabinet will be able to build up enough heat to spontaniously combust, sure the fire will be worse if it DOES occur, but a lot of people have wooden shelves in their bathrooms where a fire would be even worse.
as for installation, this recpticle will be fed by a single piece of #12 NM, with slack added and supported by a stacker, to allow easy installation and removal of the box, and a single #12 pair straight to the back of a recepticle will need a ton of troobleshooting down the line.
addendum: A stragtening/curling iron or a blow dryer could not set a cabinet on fire unless altered or broken. stragtening irons have a very, very high temperature, but on produce around 35 watts of heat, blow dryers produce 1200-1800+ watts of heat, but do not reach a high temperature before the thermal cut-out engages (I've used hairdryers from the late 1980's that have cutouts (ceramics hobby)), therefore a hair iron gets hot enough to set something on fire (seen it happen) but only if it's broken, as the element would have to directly contact something flammable, because the total heat output means the iron is unable to heat the surrounding air sufficiently to cause combustion-range temperatures, not to mention the design of the iron specifically prevents that from happening and a broken straghtening iron is so likely to cause terrible burns that it would be highly unlikely that it would be kept in use.
A hairdryer, is one, hard to fit in a medicine cabinet, two, hard to forget that you left in on, and three, has a thermal cut-out that will most likely turn it off in case of overtemperature conditions.
Personally I think that something similar to a British shaver outlet would be a good idea, an autotransformer fused at .5 or 1 amp to prevent any large load to be placed on them, and to eliminate shock hazard. OR, (best of all in my opinion) a small transformer, with a couple short cords coming out of a faceplate, with several adaptors and a voltage selector with each one, basically providing low voltage, and only low voltage, directly to the appliance being charged, without the need to cram a wall-wart in the cabinet in the first place, kind of like a permanently installed version of the Radio-Shack device that adapts to charge almost any device.
It is hard to see the big picture just by the description. I typically take the conservitive approach on these boards due to the unknowns. Especially when there is potential of a cord being passed through a door. I fully agree with the argument of rechargable tools and such. I would, if I were the AHJ, take a good, hard look at it to include a sight visit to get a feel for what you are proposing. When I am called on for decisions like theses, I look at how the installation is going to be installed, how it going to used by adults and kids, how the mechanics work (potential damage form normal use), outside (non electrical) factors, etc. People can and do misuse electricity all the time. AHJ's are to help protect the innocent, not the stupid IMO.