Distance of a socket from a sink – The Facts!
There seems to be mixed opinions on the minimum distance a socket can be from a sink, some think it doesn’t matter if it has 30mA RCD protection and others say different, but the truth is all socket outlets should be protected by a 30mA RCD anyway.
There are various guides, recommendations, drawings and diagrams showing distances of sockets from kitchen sinks but all of the guides state “recommended distance” there doesn’t seem to be anything which says “a socket outlet must be at least xx away from a sink or drainer”
What do the NICEIC recommend – Sockets near Sinks
The NICEIC’s guide “Your Guide to Electrical Work in the Kitchen” clearly states
Electrical sockets or switches should be fitted at a safe distance (it is recommended at least 30cm horizontally) from a sink to avoid the chance of water coming into contact with electricity.
Download the NICEIC’s Guide to Electrical Work in the Kitchen
» NICEIC – Your Guide to Electrical Work in the Kitchen.
IET Guidance Note 1 – Sockets Outlets Close to Sinks
The IET’s Guidance Note 1 mentions,
Is is preferable that accessories should not be installed within 300mm of a stainless steel sink unit top.
Again it says “preferable” not “must be” and again there is no mention of the drainer, however one could assume a sink unit would include the drainer.
The reason the drainer on a sink unit should be taken into consideration is due to the potential of the sink unit being turned around or replaced so from having the sink of the left hand side and the drainer on the right to having the sink on the right and the drainer on the left.
NHBC – Electrical Fittings Near Sinks
nhbc.co.uk – Technical Guidance
NHBC’s take on electrical fittings near a sink, hob or oven is,
A minimum distance of 300mm, measured horizontally from an electrical fitting to the edge of a high level grill, free standing cooker, individual hob, sink or drainer, is considered acceptable for the purposes of avoiding adverse effects from using a cooker, sink or drainer.
While the NHBC are an insurance company and not an actual building regulations authority or a similar governing body it is highly likely they would have consulted a governing body or perhaps the IET or NICEIC. The above statement would make perfect sense and would be deemed to be good practice.
Download the NHBC’s Technical Guidance Electrical Fittings Near Cookers, Sinks and Wash Basins
» NHBC – Electrical Fittings Near Cookers, Sinks and Wash Basins
Electrical Safety First – Kitchen Safety
The charity Electrical Safety First previously known as The Electrical Safety Council have a wealth of information on electrical safety in the home for home owners and electricians. They say,
To avoid water coming into contact with electricity, make sure that your sockets or switches are fitted at a safe distance (at least 30cm horizontally) from the sink.
BS 7671 – Distance of a socket outlet from a sink
BS 7671 states a number of things which should be taken into consideration.
Section 512.2 External Influences
Equipment shall be of a design appropriate to the situation in which it is to be used or its mode of installation shall take into account of the conditions likely to be encountered.
If the equipment does not, by its construction, have the characteristics relevant to the external influences of its location, it may nevertheless be used on condition that it is provided with appropriate additional protection in the erection of the installation. such protection shall not adversely affect the operation of the equipment.
Where different external influences occur simultaneously, they may have independent or mutual effect and the degree of protection shall be provided.
IET – Locations of Accessories in Kitchens
The Electricians Guide to The Building Regulations mentions,
Accessories should be installed at a minimum of at least 300mm away from the edge of kitchen sinks and draining boards to reduce the risk of being splashed by water.
Sockets too Close to the Sink in Existing Installations
If when carrying out an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) on an existing installation and you come across a socket less than 300mm away from a sink or drainer it would be up to the skilled persons judgement who is carrying out the inspection to code it appropriately based on their professional opinion, while taking into consideration of the recommended minimum distance and the level of risk associated with the socket being close to a sink unit.
Conclusion – Minimum Socket Distance from a sink or sink drainer
So it seems the recommended distance of a socket outlet or electrical accessory should be at least 300mm horizontally away from a sink or sink drainer unit.
It appears the above statement also applies to ovens and hobs.
If an incident occurred which was proved to be caused by the fact that a socket was closer than 300 mm away from a sink and the case went to court it would be likely that the recommended distance would be referred to from various publications and guides.
If you follow the recommendations you cant go wrong, it would also be good practice to follow the guides and recommendations as set out by the various organisations.