Q I hear that the 2012 NEC will require at least one outlet on all decks and patios, while the version we’re working under now requires an outlet only on decks or patios measuring more than 20 square feet. Does this mean that even small landings and step platforms will now need to have an outlet?

A Harlan Madsen, an electrical contractor in Bloomington, Minn., responds: The answer to this question depends on whether or not the landing or platform is also large enough to be used as a deck, which will depend on your building inspector’s interpretation. I don’t think that a 3-foot by 3-foot landing would require a receptacle, but if an area is large enough to accommodate a chair or two, most inspectors would probably consider it to be a deck and require an outlet.

In any case, when not sure whether or not an outlet is required, go ahead and install it. It’s not worth a debate with an inspector if you guess wrong.