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Old 01-11-2007, 06:35 PM   #1
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Conflicting Circuit Info!??


It's been a couple of years since I did my last DIY electrical work that was city inspected and since I'm starting a new project, I thought I would review some "refresher" info here from those that do it daily. From reviewing some of the previous threads, I found a discrepency in the info I was told by my inspector and a seemingly knowledgeable trade person and would like to hear some other viewpoints.

The confusion is on the limits of a single circuit. My inspector told me that each 15A circuit is allowed 12 "points" and that a fan and light are 1 point each and a double outlet is 2 points which limits an outlet circuit to at most 6. On reading here, I see people talking about it being ok to add way more "points" to a circuit and someone citing what seemed to be code info that you're allowed 12 outlets per circuit because each outlet (double I assume) is considered 1A and 12Amps are permitted on a 15Amp circuit.

The discrepency and question evidently is are (standard) double outlets (with 2 plugins) considered a single point or 2 points as far as the code is concerned?

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Old 01-11-2007, 08:38 PM   #2
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Conflicting Circuit Info!??


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The discrepency and question evidently is are (standard) double outlets (with 2 plugins) considered a single point or 2 points as far as the code is concerned?
As far as the NEC is concerned there's no such thing as "points" or at least not to a point that the number of them matters. NEC doesn't limit the number of devices on a circuit. Of course common sense should prevail when planning the number to put on one circuit. If you have 100 (I know, I know...but for the sake of arguement) devices on one circuit, how difficult do you think it will be to troubleshoot when you have a problem?

That said, it could be that your local code is NEC revised or amended, or not NEC at all, but IF they have adopted the NEC without amendments or changes, you can put as many as you like on one circuit.

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Old 01-11-2007, 08:42 PM   #3
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Conflicting Circuit Info!??


Ben, this point system is new to me as well. where are you from?

Regards to putting as many things on a circuit as you want, this is not necessarily true. It depends on what you are putting on that circuit.

We need more details in order to help you.
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Old 01-11-2007, 09:01 PM   #4
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Conflicting Circuit Info!??


The outlet code is a Canadian rule. As I understand a duplex receptacle is one outlet not two. Light fixtures and fans are outlets. A light fixture with more than one bulb is one outlet. Switches and junction boxes are not counted. If it is a lighting only circuit you can have more than 12 outlets if the max wattage rating of each fixture does not add up to 80% of the circuit load.

The same rule applies to 20 amp circuits. Only 12 outlets.
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Old 01-11-2007, 09:36 PM   #5
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Conflicting Circuit Info!??


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Originally Posted by jwhite View Post
Ben, this point system is new to me as well. where are you from?

Regards to putting as many things on a circuit as you want, this is not necessarily true. It depends on what you are putting on that circuit.

We need more details in order to help you.
Thanks to all that responded.

I'm in Florida and it is my guess that this "system" is designed to prevent overloaded circuits with some assumption that a certain percentage of all the "devices" on the circuit will be used at a single time. With this "worst case scenario" design, it is unlikely that a circuit will exceed the capacity of the breaker or wiring voltage which is why I assume the inspector told me to limit my circuit design with this method.

It seems like many are using their own usage patterns to determine if a circuit will be overloaded but that seems erroneous as a new home buyer won't necessarily follow the usage patterns of someone who designs a circuit this way.

For example, let's use a 15amp circuit that is nothing but outlets. Are you saying that there isn't any code limiting the number of outlets that you can connect on that single circuit in the NEC?
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Old 01-11-2007, 10:09 PM   #6
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The best place to start, if you want to do your own electrical work, is to buy and read a good book about residential wiring. Wiring Simplified is touted in forums. It is a great place to start.

Once you have read the books, it becomes much easier to use the web forums to ask informed questions. This will also increase your ability to understand the answers given and the terms used to discribe the specifics of your situation.

Just to give an example. The word outlet, in electric speak, means anything that uses electricity. So lights, pumps and AC units are all outlets. So to ask if the code says that you can put as many as you like on a circuit is a triped up question. The answer depends on what type of outlet.

You can put as many general purpose lighting load outlets on a circuit at you want. The code gives no limit. Design considerations will prove that you will trip a breaker if you put too many.

Other outlets, like kitchen recs, laundry, water heater, etc follow other rules.

I suggest you get the books first, so that then you will know what questions to ask.

Edit to add: General lighting load is not just lights. Read the book. It is most of the recs and lights in your home.

Last edited by jwhite; 01-11-2007 at 10:12 PM.
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Old 01-12-2007, 09:07 PM   #7
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We've used ideas like this just as "rule of thumb" when circuiting a bulding, but we would count each device as only one, never two simply because the receptacle has 2 places to plug.

We would try and 12 on 15A in houses (20A circuits are not counted this way because in a house they are usually a specialty circuit). Although because it is not a hard set rule, if the numbers didn't work out we would add one or two here or remove a few there. Just keeping our circuiting to make sense was the key
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Old 01-13-2007, 08:22 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by BenBil View Post
My inspector told me that each 15A circuit is allowed 12 "points" and that a fan and light are 1 point each and a double outlet is 2 points which limits an outlet circuit to at most 6.

If this is true then you need to check with you local bldg dept or a local electrician. This in not in the national code, so it must be a state or local ammendment.
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Old 01-13-2007, 07:53 PM   #9
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Conflicting Circuit Info!??


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Originally Posted by Sparky Joe View Post
We've used ideas like this just as "rule of thumb" when circuiting a bulding, but we would count each device as only one, never two simply because the receptacle has 2 places to plug.

We would try and 12 on 15A in houses (20A circuits are not counted this way because in a house they are usually a specialty circuit). Although because it is not a hard set rule, if the numbers didn't work out we would add one or two here or remove a few there. Just keeping our circuiting to make sense was the key
Thanks for the replies. Sorry if I confused by using the common term of outlet rather than duplex receptacle. I'm not exactly a novice and I have reference material but codes change and it wouldn't be wise to follow a book over a local inspector's "opinion" (that I assumed was a code restriction). Also, the idea of some kind of limiting standard rule especially in the case of a circuit of receptacles would just seem prudent and it is quite surprising that it is left to discretion when it comes to National Codes.

The reason I brought this up was that the inspector's stated method is forcing me to install an amount of new breakers that exceeds my new subpanel supply because of a half dozen additional outlets. If I was able to exceed this limit by just one or two additional household outlets per circuit, I would be fine with my current setup.

Thus, you gentlemen graciously answered my question/concern and it looks like my next step is to call the building department and find out if this is a local rule or simply the personally preferred "rule of thumb" of my last inspector. It's ironic that my supplied info on the rules has seemingly gone from too restrictive to too lenient. Thanks again for helping me clear up the confusion surrounding this discrepency.
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Old 01-15-2007, 09:26 AM   #10
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Conflicting Circuit Info!??


-
*
Robert Wilber
Licensed Philadelphia Electrician
Philadelphia License # 3516 - 16765
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(LIFE SAFETY WARNING! [disclaimer]
Electricity is dangerous!
You can be injured or killed!
Improper installations can cause fire, injury and death!
Should you be doing this yourself?)
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The design criteria for receptacle outlets in a residence is based on 3 watts per square foot.
The 6-foot [12-foot] rule, as people refer to it, is for placement of devices so that they can adequately serve an area without creating a tripping hazard, thus reducing the likelihood of people running cords under carpets [a great cause of fires].
There is NO reason that you cannot install a receptacle on every stud in the wall. Unless you have dedicated, fixed high-load equipment [which often require their own circuit, anyway], this will not impact the general power consumption in a home.
This is why they are referred to as "convenience" outlets. The reason that it is common practice to only put 10 or 12 on a circuit is that most installations are designed to meet minimal requirements. At 12 amps [80%-continuous load] at 120 volts, a 15 amp circuit would adequately serve about 500 square feet max. There is, however, no reason why you couldn't install 30 receptacles in the walls around that area, for your "convenience."

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