My architect believes in putting them lower. To save the energy of having
to lift your arm high. I'm no longer in that space, but if really
interested I can pull out the specs and see what they were.
Don <www.donwiss.com> (e-mail link at home page bottom).
Put them wherever you want them. Most people use a standard height
for resale value, but if you want to "personalize" your home, do
whatever you want. I dont think it would be allowed to put a switch
on the floor, and in wet locations (basements), there are limits
according to the code. But in a room, you can pretty much place them
any height on the wall.
The NEC is there to protect you from hazzards, but not from stupidity.
If you are happy with a wall switch being 6 inches from the floor, do
it. Your pets will be much happier when they can turn on the lights
Every one of my basement lights have pullchains, except the one at the
base of the stairway. The common porcelain pullchain fixtures.
I do not have a code book handy, but I believe this rule only applies
to wall switches. My furnace has a switch on the basement rafters
(ceiling), right next to the furnace. It's been that way for many
years. I dont know what the NEC would say about that, but it's
staying there. At least it dont get accidentally bumped there. Back
when I did handyman work, I got called several times with "no heat"
calls, and the only problem was because someone bumped against the
switch mounted on the side of the furnace, and shut off the power to
A major renovation that MOVES switch boxes sound really MAJOR!! If
you are adding some switch boxes, it would be good to check the height
of most of the switches you already have. Then use that height unless
you really want to start something new in your house.
Our house has the switches, old and new, at (my) waist high, which is
about 4 feet. Some people like them high so that young children can not
reach them. I've always felt that kids should be able to reach them,
but then they get some discipline to teach them to quit turning lights
on and off!!
Interestingly, my office has them at 4 feet also. --Phil
Phil Munro Dept of Electrical & Computer Engin
mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org Youngstown State University
Yes, that seems rather high. If you come in with an arm-load of groceries,
it will be difficult to reach over and flip the light on.
I don't know that the NEC really specifies the height of electrical
switches, but 48" is the typical height.
I mounted outlets at 12", switches at 48", and thermostats at 60". I used a
stick cut to the desired length to position the boxes quickly. Much faster
and less chance of error than measuring the height of each box.
In our master bedroom, I mounted switches a little lower on each side of
our bed to turn off the wall lights. Makes it easier to reach the switches
when you're laying in bed at night.
In our kitchen, we have a short half wall in front of our peninsula.
Because of the shorter wall, the light switches had to be mounted about
36" above the floor. They work fine at that height too...
The one small issue I ran into was our garage. I located all switches and
outlets at 48" from the floor. This worked great till a few years later
when I went to install wall cabinets. Because the garage floor sloped
towards the doors, I realized the outlets slope along the wall as well.
Ooops. :) The outlet on the far left sits an inch or two lower than the one
on the far right. It isn't a problem other than a visual difference from
the wall cabinets, but it's something to consider if you have a sloped
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