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How does a kitchen counter receptacle get connected?

Prior to February 15, 2007 (and optionally in installations with permits dated to April 15, 2007) kitchen counter receptacles are connected to three-wire feeds, no more than two duplex receptacles to a feed and no two adjacent receptacles on the same feed. Both circuits go to each receptacle. The ground goes to the green screw and the neutral (white) goes to a silver screw on the side of the receptacle with the larger slots in the face. On the side of the receptacle with brass coloured screws the tab between the two screws must be removed to separate the two brass coloured screws, then the black wire (or tail) goes to one brass coloured screw and the red wire goes to the other brass coloured screw. This gives you one circuit at each half of the receptacle. Plenty of power for power-hungry appliances like toasters and waffle irons.

Kitchen receptacle feeds must be connected to a two-pole breaker (preferred) or two single-pole breakers with a tie-bar in the electrical panel. This ensures that if the breaker is turned off for servicing or ever trips, both circuits will be off. Also ensure that the black and red are on separate phases so the neutral is not overloaded. (See How does a feed with red, black and white wires get connected for more on that.)

Common mistakes I've seen in kitchen receptacles include;

In one case where I found the neutral and one hot mixed up, it had been that way for years. The home owners returned quite a few “defective” kitchen appliances over the years. I sure hope it wasn't an electrician who wired that receptacle originally!

The requirements for kitchen receptacles are revised in the 2006 edition of the Canadian Electrical Code. The 2006 code includes a requirement (effective 15 Feb. 2007) that receptacles within 1.5 meters of a sink be protected by a class-A ground-fault circuit interrupter. Since GFCI receptacles cannot be split, the 2006 code allows use of 20 amp rated receptacles in the kitchen, which can be fed with a 12 guage, two-wire feed and 20 amp single-pole breaker. The feed goes first to the 20 amp rated GFCI receptacle which can also protect a receptacle on the other side of the sink. Still no more than two receptacles to a feed.

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