Why do electrical outlets have to be near the floor?

As the father of a nine-month-old, I’m dealing with baby-proofing in a big way. You wouldn’t believe some of the elaborate measures I have to take to keep his little fingers out of the sockets.

So, why do electrical outlets always have to be down near the floor? The only thing I can think of is aesthetics. I would much rather have them higher up, though, like near where the light switches are. Okay, well not right next to them where you might be prone to accidentally jab your own fingers in, but at least higher up, out of reach of your standard toddler.

I have some friends who live in an area sometimes flooded by the Mississippi River. The electrical outlets on their ground floor are 4’ off the floor level. This reduces problems when there is 2’ of water in the house.

Probably doesn’t meet code, but it’s a rural area and they say many folks have a similar setup.

Babyproofing…heh. I grew up with no such consideration from my parents. It only took a couple of times with a butter knife in the outlet to teach me to keep my hands off.

Kids have it too easy now. But that’s for a different thread.


Um, because that’s where the cords are likely to end up (probably due to gravity), trailing along the floor. So the outlets are placed in proximity to the presumed eventual position of the electrical cords.

Alternatative: cords snaking up and down your walls, staplegunned around the perimeter, or strung like clotheslines across the middle of the room.

Respectfully, lissener, most appliances that I can think of really don’t need the cord near the floor. Lamps, computer equipment, TV, etc. All are well off the ground.

Unless you’re the type of guy who likes his toasters at ankle level, I don’t buy your explanation.

When they are near the floor, they are hidden by the furniture. For instance, you can have the plug in back of your couch, and the end tables lamps can plug into it, and no one can see the wires. If that plug was at 3 or 4 feet, it would look horrible.

Vacuum cleaners need it at floor level, and since you’re gonna be vacuuming all over the house this is why most sockets are at floor level. Also it hides them from view better - eg if you’re TV was plugged in 4ft up the wall it would look kinda crap really wouldnt it.

Not all plugs are at ground level though, the ones in our kitchen are at worktop level and we have some at medium level handy for the computer and it’s periferals.

OK, suppose you have a lamp sitting on a table in your living room, about 3 feet above your floor. Now suppose that the outlet it’s plugged into is also 3 feet above the floor. That means that the cord is also going to be three feet above the floor. Now suppose that the table isn’t right up against the wall, and ask yourself how long it’s going to take before someone walks into it, or stumbles against it, or drops something on it, and sends the lamp (and possibly person) crashing into the floor.

Huh? Why do they need outlets at floor level. It seems for things like V.C.'s it would be more convienent to have them a few feet up to save from bending.

I wondered if this was against code myself.

It’s quite simple. If they were 4ft up the wall the cable would run through the air rather than along the floor and it would get in the way more. There’s no harm in bending down to plug something in, keeps you flexible and fit.

Code requirements are minimum requirements. What is primarily desirous is uniformity. Many electricians use the height of a hammer as a marker for outlets.

Outlets are kept low for the above stated reasons of aesthetics and convenience. I believe that dial’s response is way off base. 110v will kill you just as dead as 220v, and just as quickly.

It’s not the voltage that kills it’s the ampage. Electric fences in the countryside can be several thousand volts but the ampage is tiny.

Actually, it seems to me that, assuming one is able to reach, the CEILING is the most logical place for a vacuum-cleaner cord. Keeps it entirely out of the way, right?

Where are your bathroom outlets? I’ve always had one at sink-level or higher, presumably to use for a razor. And my kitchens have all had at least one countertop-height outlet for the toaster etc. This suggests that placement does have something to do with where the cord will be.

I just moved into an office that was built for a different purpose. All the outlets are at about 3 feet off the ground. It is a big freaking nuisance because this shortens the functional length of all my cords by 3 feet, necessitating extension cords, which of course all have to be approved and stamped. In additioon, on several walls there’s a radiator between the outlet and the floor so I can worry about melting/burning the cords. More argument for cords at floor level being more satisfactory.

I’m sorry, I just don’t understand how. Do your power cords have some need to be flat on the floor? And besides, most outlets are already 1-2 feet off the ground.

Well, that certainly sucks. But it’s probably the fault of whoever installed the radiator.

IIRC, there are no code requirements for the height of electrical outlets, only that there has to be one every six feet on a wall.

Kitchens and bathrooms seem to be an exception, as do basements. In our new home, all of the basement outlets are about 4’ off the ground or even higher (in a light switch/outlet combination) presumably as a protection against possible basement flooding. This is not a code violation where I am; we just bought the house and specifically asked.

We also have three waist-level outlets in the garage/workshop, presumably meant to be above a workbench, and two outlets in the ceiling, for fluorescent shop fixtures and the garage door opener.

Sorry, but this is incorrect. My car battery can source 500 amps if called upon to do so. Yet I can grab the terminals and not be harmed.

Yes, it is true a certain amount of current must flow through your body for it to be considered “dangerous.” Anything above 10 mA is asking for trouble. But since I = V/R, you need a certain amount of voltage in order to achieve this dangerous level of current. Thus a 1000 V supply than can source 0 to 100 mA is far more dangerous than a 12 V supply than can source 0 to 500 A.

It may be several thousands volts when you’re not touching it. But I can guarantee it is not several thousands volts while you’re touching it…

Sorry, Jones; we should have specified that this only applies to people who have paid their gravity bills.

I’ve heard that voltage in the range of 100 to 500 volts is the most deadly. don’t recall where.