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Vector
09-19-2005, 09:19 PM
I feel like this is a stupid question, because a year ago I would have know the answer off the top of my head.

What is the common height for mounting wall switches off the subfloor in new construction?

I seem to remember a number like 46.5" to the top of the box, but I'm not sure anymore. I realize that code doesn't give a specific height, but every new house I ever worked in (a couple hundred) was withing an inch of some number that I've forgotten. And is it the same over countertops? I feel like it is.

Outlets I remember as being one 16-oz hammer height off of the subfloor (which of course means you have to figure out how tall the other guys' hammer was unless you get there first - and all my hammers are 20-22 oz these days anyhow, so I'll have to measure it).

Sparks
09-20-2005, 05:36 PM
48"-52" inches for switches normally. The ADA sometimes comes into play mandating no higher than 48" for switches and exceptions for counter receptacles. Receptacles normally 12". Existing homes, whatever height the other ones are. A year Vector and you already forgot?? Well I guess I'm not the only one. :?

mdshunk
09-22-2005, 05:14 PM
Here's the heights I'm using for stuff the last few years:

switches 48" to the bottom
receptacles 18" to the bottom
bathroom vanity receptacles and switches 41" to the bottom
kitchen countertop receptacles and switches 43" to the bottom
thermostats 60" to the center (eye level)
attic access or crawl space access switches 60" to the bottom
garage receptacles 48" to the bottom
unfinished basement receptacles 48" to the bottom
meter cans 60" to the center of the meter head (eye level)
outdoor receptacles 24" from finished grade to the bottom
outdoor wall lights 80" from finished grade to the center
bathroom vanity light tail out at 80"
garbage disposal tail out at 18" up and 10" to the right of base cabinet centerline
microwave hood tail out at 73" up and 10" to the right of upper cabinet centerline
straight exhaust hood tail out at 69" up and 5" to the right of upper cabinet centerline


ADA (handicapped):
switches 43" to the bottom
receptacles 24" to the bottom


People use all different measurements. If I'm doing an addition or a remodel, I try to match how the rest of the house was. Some guys mark their boxes "to the top" so that they don't have to lean over to see the mark when they nail the boxes on. In that case, the measurement would be different. Note that I tail out for vanity lights, garbage disposals, and microwave hoods rather than set a box. Experience causes me to do this now. Better to cut one in later or use a Wiremold box, I find.

Sparks
09-23-2005, 05:49 AM
Wow, great list Md, nobody could ever accuse you of being vague. I think I'll save that one for reference.

Vector
09-23-2005, 06:59 AM
Yeah, great list. I'm pretty sure that every house I ever worked in had the switches at 43" for ADA compliance, but the outlets were never that high.

The 43" height seems to work well. I'm a tall guy, and they don't seem too low for me, but they are clearly more convenient for shorter people or people in a wheelchair.

Now, one thing you left off the list, interior wall sconces... I'm planning on 72" for mine...

Vector
09-23-2005, 07:01 AM
Note that I tail out for vanity lights, garbage disposals, and microwave hoods rather than set a box. Experience causes me to do this now. Better to cut one in later or use a Wiremold box, I find.

I hear you there. This spring I helped my brother-in-law out with a bathroom remodel, and we did pretty much that (actually tacked a loop up in the wall loosely and let the sheetrock guy cover it rather than tailing out). Months later they still haven't decided what kind of lights or exactly where they want to put them... But whenever they do, I'll be able to bring the wire out there.

giddonah
09-23-2005, 07:51 AM
Crap. I was just going to pretend I knew what you meant by "tail out", but now Vector had to go and show that he knows what it means too. :oops: Can I get a quck explaination of the term?

ezadmin
09-23-2005, 07:54 AM
Essentially a wire sticking out of the wall.. tail of the wire out.

mdshunk
09-23-2005, 01:40 PM
Now, one thing you left off the list, interior wall sconces... I'm planning on 72" for mine...

I suppose I did leave those of the list, didn't I? Yes, 72" is the "normal" height for wall sconces, unless they're for lighting something special. For instance, sconces on both sides of a mirror might only be at 60 couple odd inches.

A word on wall sconces... many wall sconces will not completely cover a 4" round box (which can make for a minor tragedy) and do not have brackets that are especially suitable for a rectangular wall box. To remedy this problem, nail on a 4" round box flush with the front of the stud, and attach a 4" x 3", 1/2" raised "mud ring". This essentially gives you a 3" round opening in the drywall to affix the wall sconces to later on. All wall sconces will cover a 3" round opening, but not all cover a 4" round opening, and mounting a sconce onto a wall box is not always possible. Use the 4x3 round mud ring and you will thank yourself later on.

giddonah
09-23-2005, 06:04 PM
What Vector did makes sense to me, but if the wires are sticking out of the wall... :? I've done that, but just until I got the box in a day or a week later. Why leave it with no box in there? If you have to move it, then you have the hole to patch. I guess it's easier to just cut another hole and patch without having to remove a box. Am I missing something?

Also, I was a victim of the wall sconce thing. I have yet to solve that one. Sheetrock isn't taped yet, maybe I'll try to get back inside there...

Vector
09-23-2005, 06:34 PM
What Vector did makes sense to me, but if the wires are sticking out of the wall... :? I've done that, but just until I got the box in a day or a week later. Why leave it with no box in there?

Better to cut one in later or use a Wiremold box, I find

He's talking about putting in an "old work" box at the finish. That way you can fine tune the positioning. It won't allow for really large moves without patching, but then again, patching a hole that's ~1/2" in diameter is pretty easy if you decided to cut the box in a different location later.

Vector
09-23-2005, 06:36 PM
Use the 4x3 round mud ring and you will thank yourself later on.

Now that's an excellent idea. Except that it's not really practical with air-tight boxes... I'll definately do that on my other locations though (I think I have only two that will be air-tights).

Vector
09-23-2005, 06:44 PM
A year Vector and you already forgot?? Well I guess I'm
not the only one. :?

Actually, it's been over two years since I was on a job site other than my own, but a year ago I would still have remembered :)

Being a Lo-Vo guy, I came into a house after the main electricians had finished, so I basically got to/had to copy their heights (no matter how half assed they were. Trying to make my stuff look good when their stuff varies in height by an inch around the perimeter of a 10'x10' bedroom...).

I also never had to think about things like what kind of box best fits a wall sconce.

giddonah
09-23-2005, 07:42 PM
ok, I got it now. Thanks Vector.

Sparks
09-24-2005, 03:33 PM
Sorry, guess I missed the boat on the 43" ADA compliance, thought it was 48". Never had to worry about it.

mdshunk
09-24-2005, 06:43 PM
Sorry, guess I missed the boat on the 43" ADA compliance, thought it was 48". Never had to worry about it.

No, you really didn't miss the boat. The actual text of the ADA does have a forward approach reach limit of 48" and a side approach reach limit of 54". People generally mount the switches lower than 48" so that they're sure that they are in compliance. That 48" maximum forward reach is measured to the top. If you put the bottom of your box at 48, you'd no longer be in compliance for forward reaching. I'm guessing that's where the 43" rule of thumb may have came from, so that the requirement is exceeded slightly.

Luckily for us, the full text of the ADA requirements can be found here: http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/adastd94.pdf It has pictures and graphics that makes the requirements more clear. It's only 92 pages, so it's not nearly as bad as most code type documents. §4.2 of the ADA covers space allowances and reach ranges, which is the section of interest here.

Note also that there are minimum reach limits too. The forward approach minimum reach is 15" and the side approach minimum reach is 9". For this reason, mounting receptacles and phone jacks at 18, 20, or 24 has become common, as an effort to exceed the minimum ADA requirements.

It is generally assumed that the more leaniant limits "side approach" will not be possible, and all equipment is installed so that the worst case "forward approach" limits may be met.

See attached graphic for forward reach min and max limits.

tooltroll
09-25-2005, 12:44 AM
I find I'm tailing out kitchen/bath light fixtures a lot, especially in rental units, wherever it calls for a fluorescent. (Usually those 4' 2-tube 20 buck cheapos)

Sparks
09-25-2005, 03:45 AM
MD, I always measured to the top in the past but again, I never had to worry about ADA compliance. Good to know for the future. Thanks again for providing us with clear and detailed answers.

mdshunk
09-25-2005, 07:31 AM
I find I'm tailing out kitchen/bath light fixtures a lot, especially in rental units, wherever it calls for a fluorescent. (Usually those 4' 2-tube 20 buck cheapos)

Yep... that's the way to fly with surface mounted fluorescent fixtures. I tail out too above the door header in each closet in the house for a 2' or 4' one lamp fluorescent fixture. People love lights in the closet for new construction. A single lamp fluorescent mounted right above the door casing inside the closet is the cat's meeow. Keeps it out of the way of all the crap people stack in cosets.