Do you want your outdoor kitchen to run a rotisserie, blender, crockpot, or charging station?
Well, in that case… You’re going to need an outdoor kitchen outlet. (Maybe several of them!)
The trouble is, there’s not much information out there on the topic.
How do you plan for electrical outlets in your island?
How much power do you need?
And most importantly… How do you know the outlets are installed safely?
These are all essential questions for you to ponder.
The last thing you want is for your outlet to be located inconveniently, or not have enough power to run your appliances… Or worse yet, end up becoming a straight up safety hazard due to improper installation.
Rest assured, we’ll cover all of the above (and much more) in this article. Let’s start with outdoor outlet types.
3 Outlet Types & Placement Options
To ensure you get the most accurate information possible… We’ve enlisted the assistance of one of our resident Design Experts, Daniel Cdebaca.
He’s designed over 3,000 islands (and counting!) in his tenure as an outdoor kitchen designer… So there’s no better person to consult with when it comes to planning island outlets! (And your overall project!)
So, what are the main outlet types/placement options you’ll have to choose from?
There’s outlets on the exterior of the island itself, up against the wall, and pop-up outlets.
Let’s discuss each one in-depth.
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Outlets Mounted on the Exterior of the Island
When you think of an outdoor kitchen outlet… This is likely what you’re imagining!
You’ll find an outlet installed on one of the exterior walls of your island… Ready to plug in your blender or other accessories.
But is that really all there is to it?
Well… Quickly, you’ll discover that just anywhere won’t work for an outdoor kitchen outlet.
“When it comes to freestanding islands, I think that positioning your standard outlets on the left or right end panels is typically the most convenient. That way, you don’t have to walk all the way to the back to access them”, Daniel shares.
This is a great point!
You always want your outlets to be accessible… But also not interfere with the other features of your island.
It’s easy to reach down the side of your island, plug something in, and have it rest on the edge of your countertop.
You could also freely place outlets on the back, but as Daniel mentioned… That will require a bit more movement. (Although, this could be a plus if you’re trying to get your steps up!)
For an exterior outlet placement… The only location we usually avoid is on the front of your island.
“Typically, the cords of your appliances come off the back of the unit. So if you position outlets on the front of the island, is that really going to be the most functional way you want to use it?”, Daniel explains.
It’s one of those things that you don’t think about at first, but when pointed out… It makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?
If you install outlets on the front of your island… The cord itself will end up becoming an obstruction and getting in the way.
In the interest of convenience… It’s best to keep your island outlets on the sides, or even the back.
Now, how are the considerations different if your island is near a wall?
Island Outlets Mounted on the Wall
If you don’t want to have a freestanding island in your backyard… You’ll likely end up placing your island near a wall.
There are some safety considerations related to this that we won’t go into here… But there are also considerations for your outdoor kitchen outlet placement!
Daniel starts off the process with a question, “One thing to think about is, what are the outlets really going to be used for? Are you plugging in blenders, or hot pots, or crock pots, or speakers?”
Depending on what you’re using… You may prefer to have it sitting on the edge of your island, or near your cooking appliances.
If so, you can stick with the left or right cabinet wall placement (if accessible)… Or you can opt to mount an outlet on the wall near the edge of your island.
This allows you to plug in accessories with ease, and avoid the inconvenience of a front-wall placement!
But if you’d rather not install an outlet on the wall… There’s one more placement to consider.
Pop-Up Outlet Considerations
If you want more flexibility, a pop-up outlet might be more your speed.
Just as it sounds… These outlets literally “pop-up” out of the countertop of your island.
And when you’re not using it… You’ll simply push it closed, retaining a low footprint in your countertop.
If you have ample countertop space in your design, you can place these outlets anywhere that’s convenient for you.
But generally speaking… Similar to placing outlets on front panels, it’s generally best if your pop-up outlet sits near the back of the island. (Just to keep cords out of the way.)
Pop-up outlets are also perfect if you have a rotisserie kit on your built-in grill.
This outlet can sit right next to either side of your grill… Perfectly placed to power the motor on your rotisserie.
Now, there’s only one other thing to consider in terms of a pop-up outlet. These outlets act like an extension cord. They aren’t directly hardwired, and must be plugged into another outlet inside your island.
And speaking of interior outlets…
Bonus: What About Interior Outlet Placement?
If you’re running outdoor refrigerators, wine coolers, kegerators, outdoor grill lights, ice makers, or other electric appliances inside your island… You also have to contend with outlets placed inside your island!
Once again, you have to plan ahead for how these outlets are going to be located.
“When placing electrical stub-outs or electrical outlets in your island, you want to be mindful of the appliances you’ll actually be putting into your island”, Daniel explains.
“Take an outdoor refrigerator, for instance. You know where the refrigerator is going to go, and you put the outlet on the wall where the refrigerator slides in, but the plug itself is preventing the fridge from fully sliding in”, he continues.
That would be a frustrating problem, would it not?
You’re in the final stages of installation… But you can’t complete the job, because your refrigerator won’t slide in all the way.
That’s why location matters! (And it’s such an easy problem to avoid.)
Daniel shares, “It’s good to think about appliance depth and how that’s going to affect outlet placement. Typically, the most open space is the most convenient place to put them. If you have multiple appliances, it’s best to locate the outlets between them.”
And by allowing for as much space as possible… You also avoid the problem of your cords pinching from being forced to bend in tight quarters.
Further… You’ll have to consider if you want your outlets mounted directly on a stub-out, or on an interior island cabinet wall.
“When it comes to mounting fixtures, it can be done from the stub-out much of the time. The fixture can be mounted directly from the stub-out, or on the back panel of the kitchen. To get power to your island, it’s best to have one central stub-out. Once the island is built, your electrician will route electricity through the island and place the outlets where appropriate”, Daniel explains.
Ultimately… There’s no distinct advantage to one option or the other. This simply comes down to personal preference!
Now that you have a deeper understanding of outlet types and their placement… What are the requirements for your island?
How to Meet Outlet Requirements for Safety
While location of your outlets is half the battle… There’s still more yet you have to understand before making decisions!
There are several requirements that must be met to ensure your outlets are safe to use.
First and foremost…
Are Your Outlets Outdoor-Rated?
It’s no secret that water and electricity don’t mix.
So in order to protect yourself and your loved ones from a dangerous electric shock… It’s essential that your outdoor kitchen outlets are outdoor-rated.
“As long as it’s an outdoor-rated outlet you should be fine. It’s actually not the outlet itself that is exterior-rated, but the outlet cover”, Daniel shares.
It may seem a bit strange at first… But yes, the outlet cover is just as important as the outlet itself. This is what will ultimately be protecting your outlet from moisture, after all!
Thankfully, these outlet covers are easy to find. “Outdoor-rated” and “weatherproof” are good keywords to look for when shopping.
But beyond this… You do have a safety consideration for the outlet itself. You should only be using GFCI outlets outdoors.
You’ll often find these outlets in kitchens and bathrooms, where outlets can accidentally come in contact with water.
GFCI outlets are designed to detect leaks, and automatically shut off the power when one is detected. (Thus preventing electrocution.)
Your outlet cover should be able to handle keeping moisture out no-problem… But a GFCI outlet is a fail-safe feature that should be utilized regardless.
So far, so good. But…
Do You Have Enough Power?
Next, you’ll need to consider the actual power requirements for your island.
For most projects, “it’s recommended to have your outdoor kitchen set up on a GFCI dedicated branch circuit, with a 15-20 amp breaker for your outdoor kitchen”, Daniel explains.
So that answers that question. But why do you need a dedicated branch circuit?
“Having a dedicated branch circuit ensures that you don’t have other features pulling power off of it, like a patio heater or light fixtures”, he continues.
This is key! You don’t want your circuit breaker regularly tripping because it can’t handle the amount of power you’re siphoning off.
This also ensures that your outdoor kitchen has plenty of power running consistently… And you’re not stressing the system.
Now, there’s just one caveat to this recommendation. If you’re planning to run high-powered blenders and appliances off your outdoor kitchen often… You may want to increase the amperage on your breaker.
Well, “it’s always important to discuss with your certified electrician what you plan on using in your outdoor kitchen so they can supply the correct amount of amps for everyday use”, Daniel shares.
And on the topic of professional electricians…
Always Hire a Professional
Some of the concepts we’ve just outlined may seem simple… And you might be tempted to install the outlets yourself to save some money.
It’s imperative that you work with a certified electrician for this task.
When it comes to an outdoor kitchen project… There are certain things that homeowners must leave to the professionals, with installing electric lines being one of them. (And natural gas or propane fuel lines being the other.)
An electrician will understand your needs, and be able to appropriately (and safely) hook up your island to electricity.
Not to mention, depending on where you live… It may be required by law for you to hire an electrician for this task, anyway.
Keeping safety in mind… Let’s discuss a couple final considerations to ensure your outdoor kitchen designer plans for.
Additional Location Considerations for Safety
To be sure your island is as safe as possible… There are a couple more things your designer must account for.
More specifically, proximity of your outlets to heat or water.
If your outlets are dangerously close to a grill… The residual heat coming off of it could cause the fixture to melt, or even an electrical fire!
This could be an extremely dangerous mistake… So ensure your outlet is free and clear of excessive heat.
Same goes for water, although this is less of a concern.
As long as you have an outdoor-rated outlet cover… Any water coming off a sink should not cause an issue. And with a GFCI outlet, the power will shut off long before this becomes an issue.
At the same time… You don’t want your outlets sitting too close to the ground, either.
If you live in an area prone to flooding, standing water will cause a serious issue for your outlets.
So to be safe, keep your outlets a good distance off the ground as well.
Alright. That’s officially everything you need to know about outdoor kitchen outlets!
At this stage, you may want to see some real-life examples of how to plan yours.
Let’s take a look.
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Outdoor Kitchen Electrical Outlet Design Examples
To bring the discussion full circle… Let’s view some design examples to assist your research.
Outdoor Kitchen with Exterior Mounted Outlet
Let’s start with something simple for your outdoor living space.
This straight island has a single exterior mounted outlet… On the right side of the cabinet wall.
You’ll notice that it’s fairly close to the top of the countertop. There’s a rotisserie motor coming off the right side of the gas grill… Providing the perfect place to plug it in!
And if you’re not firing up the rotisserie… There’s still a bit of counter space to plug in a phone charger, or something small.
Grill Island with Multiple Exterior Outlets
Now… What if you want to have as much power as possible?
This L-shaped island has got it all!
In total, you’ll count four exterior mounted outlets on this BBQ station.
There’s two outlets on the corner island, on either side of the sink… And two more on the end of the bar island.
The outlets near the sink will be great for running cooking appliances, like a hot pot.
The outlets on the bar island will be perfect for your bartending needs… Easily powering blenders, juicers, and the like.
And if you’d like your outlets to be a little more low-profile… Several brands offer exterior-rated stainless steel covers to match your appliances!
No matter what it is… You’ll have no shortage of options when it comes to power!
Outdoor Kitchen Pop Up Outlet Example
Let’s turn our attention to a BBQ island with a pop up outlet. (If you look too quickly, you’ll miss it!)
Find it yet?
The outdoor kitchen outlet here is in the bottom left corner of the front island countertop.
It blends right in, doesn’t it?
The cover on this outlet perfectly matches the appliances… And provides a seamless look in this outdoor kitchen.
If you want your outlets to be discreet, a pop up outlet is the way to go.
And as you’ll see, locating these outlets is super flexible. Anywhere you have counter space… You can install a pop up outlet.
Stone Outdoor Kitchen with Wall Mounted Outlets
To wrap up this section… Let’s look to an example with wall mounted outlets.
This stone island has two wall mounted outlets. You’ll find one peeking behind the BBQ grill, and another above the outdoor fridge.
The outlet near the grill is perfect for powering a rotisserie… And there’s plenty of counter space to also power other cooking appliances.
As for the outlet above the fridge… The sky’s the limit for what you can power! Blenders, charging stations, the whole nine.
In this design, the addition of a wall mounted outlet allowed the countertop to be fully utilized… Whereas with a pop up outlet, it’s minimal, but you will lose a bit of space when in use.
Alright. Starting to feel more confident about outdoor kitchen outlets?
Let’s get to the next steps.
You’ve Got the Power... Now What About Your Island?
Now that you’ve learned the ins and outs of outdoor kitchen outlets… It’s time to decide what outdoor kitchen solution you want, if you haven’t thought about it already!
In your research, you’ll likely have found a ton of options… But there are none so simple as RTA Outdoor Living.
Especially when it comes to planning outlets!
You’ll work one-on-one with an outdoor kitchen design expert, like Daniel.
All of our experts have designed hundreds, if not thousands of islands!
Which means… You’re getting the best advice possible when it comes to planning your island (and your outlets!).
They’ll be able to provide advice tailored to your exact needs… Plus, we’ll ensure all proper safety measures are taken during the design stage.
So when your island is ready to be installed… Your electrician will have just a few easy tasks to get your island on the grid.
The rest of your outdoor kitchen assembly goes just as smoothly. Our outdoor kitchen kits arrive at your door as panels, countertops, and outdoor kitchen appliances. (We offer outdoor pizza ovens, too!)
You bolt together the panels, place the countertop, and slide in the appliances… And all said and done, this takes only a few hours.
It’s an elegant, high-quality system… That couldn’t be more convenient.
Point is, building an outdoor kitchen has never been easier.
Curious about getting started?
Submitting a design with our free online design tool will get you in touch with our expert designers… Or, you could reach out to us directly if you have something in mind already.
Either way, we look forward to helping you transform your outdoor space!
Need Help With Your Plans?
Running electricity to your outdoor kitchen is not something we recommend you DIY. It’s best to explain your needs to a professional electrician, who will understand how to safely set up the system for you.