Cabin Kitchen Update: Installing the Cooktop — With Video!

I want to remind everyone, before we get started here, that most of the things we are doing in the kitchen are firsts for us. Cabinets, counter, sink, dishwasher, etc… we’ve never installed these things before. This is the third kitchen renovation we’re living through, and the first two were done by professionals. I sort of hovered as much as I could during those, so I get how most of this stuff works in theory. But I just wanted to put that caveat out there because we learned an important lesson at the cabin that I wish I had known — and I thought it was worth sharing with everyone.

On my latest trip up I had two main goals: install the cooktop and install the dishwasher. Today’s post is all about the cooktop, because it took a lot longer than expected. It was not as smooth as we thought it was going to be. As soon as I took it out of the box, I realized that the electrical connection was just wires. I had assumed (I know, I know, what happens when you assume…) that the cooktop was just going to plug into an outlet. We had both a regular outlet and a 220 volt outlet that an oven would plug into available to us, so I figured that one of those two would be all I needed. I didn’t look into it and failed to realize that this particular unit required to be hardwired into a junction box. Ugh.

After looking at the wires, and reading the instructions, it became clear that the power needed was the one from the 220 volt / old range outlet, not just the regular, three-pronged outlet that was under the counters. My first thought was that I could just buy a range power cord and connect the wires from cooktop to that, and then plug that in to the outlet under the cabinets. I texted an electrician just to make sure that was okay and he very quickly replied, “DO NOT DO THAT.” Well there goes that plan. He called me almost immediately to make sure I didn’t attempt to go forward with that idea.

As I explain in the video, the solution wasn’t very complicated, I just wish I had known sooner. The power lines running to the 220 outlet under the cabinets were the ones I needed, but I wasn’t able to get to that outlet. I had to turn off the power to the house, and then cut those wires that were going down to that outlet. I then fished those wires underneath the countertops, and ran them into an electrical box. Then I could connect the wires from the cooktop directly into that box, mount the box to the cabinet, and then add a cover.

The lesson I learned was that I wish I had looked at how the cooktop received power before I installed the cabinets and counters. By the time I realized what I needed, I didn’t have access to the 220 plug under the cabinets. Had I known I needed access to that, I would have moved it prior to installing the cabinets so that I wouldn’t have had to cut that line. In the end, it was fine and everything worked, but it could have been a lot cleaner and easier.

Another issue I ran into when installing the cooktop was that the instructions did not come with a template, like the sink did. So when planning my cutout, I had to measure based on what measurements the instructions told me. Both measurements, the width and the length, were about an eight of an inch short. So there was a lot of back and forth of me cutting, trying to put the cooktop in, it not fitting, taking it out, shaving off a tiny amount, trying again, it still not fitting, repeat until it finally fit. So I would recommend using the instructions as a good starting point, but actually measure the unit to double check to see what size you need to cut out.

I realize this whole post kind of points out a huge difference between me and Kerry: she’s a planner, and if she had looked at all this, she would probably have avoided this problem. I am a “let’s just start working and figure it out as we go” type. Which, generally, probably isn’t the best strategy in this line of work. Obviously roadblocks are going to come up, but it’s better to be as planned as possible so those roadblocks are few and far between. I’m happy this one didn’t result in me having to completely take out the cabinets (which was a fear that crossed my mind briefly), and I hope that this post helps someone else not run into the issues we did.

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