How Close Can I Put a Switch or Outlet to a Sink?

metal sink with stone backsplash near switch and outlet

Power switches are vital for any living space, and their locations are crucial. Many homeowners wonder if it's safe to have a switch close to a sink. In most cases, this is fine, but there is such a thing as too close.

This guide discusses the recommended distance between a switch and a sink, which is useful to know for both safety and repair reasons. You'll have problems convincing a contractor to install light switches, for example, if your outlet placement doesn't follow the recommended National Electrical Code standards.

It's essential to ensure that your switch has a unique source of power in the kitchen. If you connect the switch power to either 20-amp appliance circuits, you'll be drawing power from appliances. Generally, your fridge and other kitchen appliances will drop in performance when the light is on.

Recommended Distance Between a Switch and a Sink in the Kitchen

kitchen sink with switch nearby

The closest your switch should be to your kitchen sink is about two feet away. The NEC also requires 24 inches between an outlet and another part of the wall.

In new construction, each countertop outlet must be separated by no more than four feet, so any appliance will be at most two feet away from a plug. These rules also apply to bars and kitchen islands, and even to facilities without sinks.

Furthermore, all outlets near countertops need ground-fault circuit interrupters. It's also vital to have circuit-breakers that can turn off the power to the outlet quickly (preferably 1/40th of a second—blink and you miss it fast).

Ground-fault circuit interrupters determine how much electrical current your outlet receives and sends out from any equipment. Keep in mind that it must be connected to a circuit conductor.

The Recommended Distance Between a Switch and Sink in the Bathroom

bathroom sink with towels near row of light switches

When it comes to bathroom switches, NEC has different rules. No matter the size of your bathroom, NEC insists that you must have at least one outlet or more. It is also recommended that you equip your bathroom outlet with GFCI protection just like any other outlet in your home.

According to NEC, any outlets in your bathroom, including those with light switches, must be three feet away from your sink. This is vital given the risky conditions in the bathroom.

Keeping the switch three feet away from the sink is very important with water all over the place. You can implement both options if you want the outlet behind the sink or even on its side.

It's important to note that straying too far from the sink is not recommended either. For instance, if you want an outlet installed on the wall opposite your sink, it won't be acceptable per NEC rules.

Some owners also wonder what you are supposed to do if the bathroom has double sinks. In that case, the rules change a little bit. You will need at least two outlets, each placed within three feet of the sink.

In some cases, homeowners opt for doubling up on the outlets between two sinks. They also get the outlets installed near the edge of one of the sinks.

In case you prefer having another outlet in your bathroom, you can add it. Unlike the initial two outlets, this one doesn't have to be three feet from the sink. If you get too close to the sink, you need to protect your sink with GFCI protection. Note that the extra outlet cannot replace the single mandated outlet near your sink.

The Recommended Distance Between a Switch and a Sink in the Bathtub

Those with smaller bathrooms don't have to worry about where the switch goes in relation to the shower or tub.

NEC's regulations of 2017 address the shower switch installer in section 404 of its rule book. According to their rules, switches should not be installed within shower or tub spaces unless they are installed as part of the shower or tun assembly. This means you shouldn't have a switch in the bathtub whatsoever.