Master electrician Heath Eastman takes us to a house call. A homeowner explains that despite her relatively recent kitchen renovation, she has no outlets on her kitchen island. After discovering that the previous electrician did run wires to the island, Heath tracks them down and gets to work.
How to Install an Electrical Receptacle on a Kitchen Island
Note: In this case, the original electrician ran a wire from an electrical box to the island and terminated both ends in electrical boxes. If that’s not the case, it may be necessary to run new wires through the floor to the new island.
- Locate the existing electrical box within the island and remove the cover. Use the non-contact tester to ensure that the wires are not energized. If they are energized, shut off the breaker.
- If the wires aren’t energized, they must find where they come from. Shut off the breakers to the kitchen area and test each outlet with the non-contact tester. Remove the outlets from the electrical boxes and look for excess coiled wires. In most cases, these will be the wires running to the electrical box in the island. If finding the wire’s origin is challenging, rent an electrical toner to track the wires back to where they start. Once found, uncoil the wires and let them and the outlet hang from the electrical box.
- Find the ideal location for the receptacle on the island. This will typically be on either end of the island, away from anywhere someone might sit and where it won’t obstruct drawers. Place painter’s tape on the island in the area where the receptacle will be and trace the receptacle’s shape onto the painter’s tape. Be sure that it’s centered and level.
- Drill holes at the box’s ear locations and each corner before cutting it out with an oscillating tool.
- Install the new electrical box in the opening, securing it to the island. Punch out any knock-out entries necessary, ideally on the bottom of the new box and the back of the existing box.
- Use the BX cutter to cut a section of metal clad wire to length. Place a bushing over the wires and slide it down into the metal sheathing. Place connectors on both ends of the wire, securing the connectors over the wires with screws. Attach the connectors to the electrical boxes at both ends with lock nuts.
- Connect the old wires in the electrical box to the new ones by stripping their ends back about ¾ of an inch and twisting them together with a wire nut (ground to ground, neutral to neutral, and hot to hot). Resecure the box’s cover.
- Wire the outlet into the new box. Connect the ground to the green screw inside the box, then to the green screw on the outlet, the neutral to the silver screw, and the hot to the brass. Secure the outlet in the box and place a cover plate on the outlet.
- Head back to the receptacle with the wire loop and outlet hanging from it. Strip the end of the wires back to expose the wires. Follow the same process, attaching the ground to the green screw, the neutral to the silver screw, and the hot wire to the brass screw. Place the outlet back in the box and place the cover plate back on.
- Head to the electrical panel and flip the breaker. Test the new outlet for power and polarity with the outlet tester. Also, check to ensure that the GFCI outlet on the kitchen circuit is working properly by pressing the test button on the receptacle tester.
Heath installs a receptacle to a kitchen island without an existing receptacle. He explains at least one receptacle is necessary for any island or peninsular countertop to be to code.
After turning off the power by flipping the switch on the main breaker, Heath uses a Non-contact voltage tester pen to ensure the wires aren’t live. He suggests using painter’s tape and the electrical box to create a guide to cut into the cabinetry with an oscillating multitool. Next, he uses a level to check that the electrical box is perfectly vertical. Heath uses a hand drill to screw the electrical box into place before removing the knockouts. Once the knockouts have been removed, he runs wires through the box and connects the corresponding wires leading from the outlet. Restore power after replacing the receptacle cover.
- One receptacle is needed for first 9 square feet
- Another receptacle needed for the next 18 square feet
- A third receptacle needed for the remaining 18 square feet
- Painter’s tape
- Metal electrical box
- Metal-clad wire (BX)
- Cable connectors
- Cable bushings
- Wire nuts
- Outlet cover