What is the code for installing lights and outlets? Can they be on the same
breaker? My house has both on the same breaker, but a friend said this is no
longer acceptable and on new construction outlets must use #12 and lights
#14 with no more than six outlets or lights on a breaker? The electrician
told me he can put up to 15 things on a line and mix and match as long as
it's #20 wire. Should I find another friend or another electrician?
You have to understand that in this rural part of Tennessee we have no
permits and no inspections and some pretty bad contractors. An electrician
may tell me something that is not contrary to code here but wouldn't be
accepted practice in a civilized area. Thought it best to check here first
with people who do know what they are talking about. I don't have a high
confidence level in anyone I might hire here. Previous hired work has been a
disaster. As for the friends, they just built a new house in a civilized
area, did a lot of the work themselves and it passed inspection with no
You can find some info here:
You can (probably) find the entire Code book at your local library.
(it's not on-line.)
Recepts can be on either 15 Amp or 20 Amp circuits (and it depends...)
Lighting can also be on either.
The number of fixtures or recepts is not specifically limited by code,
although some cities may have over-riding rules. Here is where
knowledge and experience come to play.
You can mix and match lights and outlets on the same circuit, but I
don't like to do it -- if I blow a breaker by plugging in one-too-many
popcorn poppers, I don't want the lights going out. Some cities may not
let you put lights on a branch circuit, but that doesn't apply to you.
There is a limit to how many lights you can put on a circuit, but no
limit to the number of convenience outlets.
If you use #12 wire, you can use 20A breakers and you can put more stuff
on the circuit. #14 wire is cheaper and easier to work with, but it
limits you to 15A. I usually put outlets on #12 wire and 20A breakers,
and lights on #14 wire and 15A breakers. If you're gonna buy just one
roll of wire, get the #12.
The outlets in the bathroom and near the kitchen sink (and a few other
places) need to be protected by a ground fault interupter. The cheapest
and most convenient way to do this is to install a GFCI receptacle.
They are bigger than normal outlet devices, so make sure you use deep
enough electrical boxes so you can shove them (and the wires) into the box.
I added on a 200 sq ft room with a lav in one corner. The electrician will
do the hookup but said I'd save money if I did the work snaking the wires
through the existing walls. The new part is open and easy to wire. I put
three cables in place into the service panel but not connected, one #12, one
#14, and a 10/3 for the water heater. In the midst of this, my friends
stopped by and told me it didn't meet the code. I just checked with their
city and what they told me is the code for them but not for me. So they are
correct for where they live but also my electrician is correct for what he
is going to do here. Thank you for your assistance, just wanted to be sure.
Once the drywall is on, changes won't be so easy.
You've provided additional information which clarifies things. The NEC has
some restrictions on circuits that can not have lighting. These are kitchen
counter receptacles, and bathroom receptacles where that circuit serves
multiple bathrooms. There can also be no lighting if you have a fastened in
place item on a circuit that draws 50% or more of the rating of the circuit.
The code requires that the bathroom receptacles have a 20A circuit, and that
circuit can't serve anything other than bathrooms. If it serves ONLY that
bathroom, it can do the lights, fans, and receptacles in that one bathroom.
What is the intended purpose of the rest of the room? If its a bedroom, then
all 15A and 20A 120V circuits in that bedroom must be AFCI protected. If you
have an eating area, then you need the dedicated 20A counter receptacles.
Personally, I like to keep lights and receptacles separate. Lighting only
can easily get by with #14 wire, and you'll like that if you have 3-way or
4-way switch circuits. Receptacles are best with #12 wire. In US
residential, there is no limit to the number of receptacles on a circuit.
I think you need at least 1 more 12-2 cable for the bathroom. If your local
codes are not the same as the NEC, then I doubt if anyone in this newsgroup
can help you.
The room will be a studio for music lessons. In one corner there will be a
small room slightly larger than the restroom in an airliner with a toilet
and sink. The restroom will have one fan, one light, one outlet. The main
part of the room will have 6 outlets and 3 lights. The electrician said it
is ok to put everything for the main room and restroom on one circuit,
except that the GFI outlet in the restroom must be on it's own line. He
didn't mention it having to be a 20 amp line. I'd better check with him. I
can easily pull the #14 wire out and have it snake a larger #12 through the
wall with no difficulty or I can simply not put an outlet in there at all.
So one thing caught my eye, that being the use of 20 gauge wire (#20
you wrote) for various circuits.
I'm not an electrician, but i've pretty sure you need minimum #14 for
a 15 amp circuit, and #12 for a 20amp circuit.
I would be wary of the contractor who said that #20 could be
used.... get a second *reliable* quote for the wire size.
Are you sure he didn't say to use a 20amp circuit and you can run
lights and outlets?
BTW, outlets on a 20amp circuit are slightly different than outlets.
Make sure you don't put the wrong receptical on any circuits.
if there really are no local codes... just wire by the NEC.
might be useful as well..
Ich habe keine Ahnung was das bedeutet, oder vielleicht doch?
appliance circuits? convince outlets? High Intensity Discharge lighting?
Residential is usually mix and match some contractors use 12 wire for all
the branch circuits that are 120v. It saves the men time and the men do not
have to think about which wire to use where. Some use a mixture of 12 and 14
because the 14 is cheaper. I use 180 watts per outlet unless they are for
equipment or dedicated for something.
180 times 8 outlets is 1440 watt the max for a 15 amp circuit. I also make
sure every bedroom is fed by 2 circuits. That way you can blow a circuit and
not be in the dark. Appliance circuits you must have 2 free in a kitchen
then you have to add more circuits for the microwave, disposal and
Last new home builder I looked at (KB Homes). They had written in Spanish
the instruction for the plumbers and the electricians on the concrete at the
front door. I walked directly to the car and asked the realtor to take me
back to my vehicle. I am sure that Spanish speaking people are diligent. It
just gave me the willies.
Your friend should out of the electrical advice business. Electrical
wire is sized according to the breaker size. And yes, you can have
outlets and lights on the same circuit. Listen to your electrician.
There's some pretty bad "professionals" in these here hills. A wise
person around here considers all the advice he can get and then makes the
best decision. That's why I inquired on the NG. Yes, I understand the
criteria for wire size, or inversely, breaker size. Spent 30 years in
industrial electronics, but I'm not familiar with the various local codes
for each city and town regarding house wiring.
Last professional licensed contractor here was the plumber. He came
in finding fault with everything that had been done in the past by someone
else. Duh, why did he think I called him? Because I realized something
wasn't right. No need for him to carry on like that. He laughed about how
the 2 inch hole for the washer drain was too close to the wall and what a
stupid the previous plumber must have been. So then he drilled another two
inch hole, this one 4 inches out from the wall and then he himself couldn't
put the pipe through it. So he put the new pipe through the old hole which
he had initially said wasn't right and then left me with a new open 2 inch
hole in the floor. Then he forgot to hook up the drain to the sink and water
went all over the floor.
Then came the concrete people who didn't understand the meaning of
square or level. And then the roofing contractor who didn't know how the
seams fit together. That's when I decided I'd do most of the rest of the
Now you know why I'm second guessing the electrician. There are no
professionals here. It's Bubba the plumber, Bubba the roofing contractor,
Bubba the concrete man.
As others noted, lights and receptacles can be on same
breaker. But, for example, all bedrooms now must be on arc
fault type GFCIs. Better to put lights on a separate circuit
so that a tripped AGFI does not also leave one stumbling in
As noted, number of boxes per circuit is more often a
personal preference of the electrician and his inspector.
There are some boxes that must be unique. For example,
kitchen counter top boxes must be on their own circuit and
should not be on same circuit shared by other receptacles such
as outside receptacle. Refrigerator should be on its own
circuit and not on a GFCI - since a power loss to
refrigerator, later restored, could result in food poisoning.
Washer and dryer should be on their own circuit - forgot if
that is a code requirement or wanted by the inspectors.
Wires must not be bent any tighten than a radius five times
wire diameter. A number for maximum number of wires in a box
is often printed inside the box. All incoming services (AC
electric, phone, and cable) must enter building as same
location so that all can connect, less than 20 feet, to a
single point ground. In reality, you want these connections
less than ten feet.
volts500 wrote a nice summary of building safety grounding
in the newsgroup alt.home.repair entitled "Grounding Rod
Info" on 12 July 2003: http://tinyurl.com/hkjq
Just some more 'heads up' information.
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