How to Set Standard Outlet and Light Switch Heights

Setting standard heights for electrical outlets and light switches in your home can make your rooms look more uniform and refined. It also makes outlet access easier and improves safety. With some planning and basic tools, you can set attractive, functional heights for outlets and switches throughout your home.

Why Standard Heights Matter

Having consistent outlet and switch heights gives your home a cleaner, more uniform look. It shows attention to detail and gives a refined feel to your interior design. Standard heights also improve home safety and function:

  • Makes access easier without bending or reaching.
  • Reduces tripping hazards from varying outlet heights.
  • Allows furniture to fit flush against walls.
  • Enables easy installation of window treatments.

Recommended Heights

Here are the standard outlet and switch height recommendations:


  • 15 inches above the finished floor is the typical height for electrical outlets. This places them low enough to reach easily but high enough to allow furniture and window treatments to clear.
  • 12 inches above countertops is the recommended height to set outlets above kitchen counters, bathroom vanities, etc. This places them conveniently above backsplashes.
  • 48 inches is an optional elevated outlet height above countertops and baseboards for easier access.


  • 48 inches above the floor is the standard height for light switches. This places them comfortably within reach.

How to Find the Right Heights

Here are some tips for finding the right outlet and switch heights in your home:

  • Use a laser level for accuracy. Project horizontal lines on the wall at recommended heights.
  • Measure up from the floor, not down from the ceiling. Ceilings are often uneven.
  • Check heights using a long level held vertically on the wall. Adjust until height lines are level.
  • Consider door knobs and furniture heights so outlets don’t conflict with cabinet doors, etc.
  • For outlets above kitchen counters, cabinets, etc., measure up from the surface.

Installing at New Heights

When installing outlets and switches at new standard heights, here’s an overview of the process:

Gather Supplies

  • Drywall saw
  • Voltage tester
  • Box extenders
  • Wire strippers
  • Drywall anchors
  • Electrical tape
  • Wall plates

Cut New Openings

  1. Turn off power to the circuit at the breaker box. Verify it’s off with a voltage tester.
  2. Identify outlets/switches to adjust. Measure and mark new openings on the wall.
  3. Use the drywall saw to cut openings at the new height marks.

Extend Power Boxes

  1. Remove outlet/switch covers and unscrew boxes from the studs.
  2. Secure box extenders to raise the box to the needed height.
  3. Verify boxes are flush and plumb with the wall surface.

Connect Wires & Install

  1. Attach wiring to the sides of the raised boxes. Provide slack for connections.
  2. Anchor raised boxes firmly to studs or the wall surface per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Install outlets/switches into the new boxes and attach wall plates.
  4. Turn power back on, verify outlets/switches function properly and are secure.

Tips for Great Heights

Follow these tips for hassle-free installation at standard heights:

  • Update outlets and switches throughout a room or area at the same time.
  • Group certain types of outlets at consistent heights, like those above countertops.
  • Mark box locations with painter’s tape before cutting to prevent drywall cracking.
  • Use shims if gaps exist between drywall and outlet boxes.
  • Hire an electrician if adjusting circuit wiring to avoid fire risks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are most outlets 15 inches high?

The 15 inch height places outlets conveniently low enough to reach and plug in devices, but high enough to clear standard baseboard and furniture heights. This became the standard practice.

Should outlet heights match switch heights?

Yes, installing outlets and switches at the same height gives a uniform, cohesive look. The standard 48 inch height works well for both in most homes.

What if outlets are too low behind furniture?

Consider raising outlets to 18-24 inches above the floor if they will be hidden behind beds, dressers, entertainment centers, etc. This provides easier access.

Should GFCI outlets be installed at 15 inches too?

Yes, any standard outlets installed at 15 inches above floor height should also include GFCI outlets in wet areas like kitchens and bathrooms. Keep their heights consistent.

What about outlets installed vertically?

Vertically mounted outlets should have their midpoint at the standard 15 inch or 48 inch heights. Ensure the height matches outlets mounted horizontally in the same room.

Final Thoughts

Setting standard heights for your home’s outlets, switches and other electrical components gives a clean, refined look and improves function. With some careful planning and simple tools, you can create consistent heights that enhance the aesthetics and safety of your interior space. Just be sure to turn off power and use caution when installing.