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budde97 02-10-2007 11:49 PM

Dedicated freezer circuit in basement?
In several places I have read that a freezer in the basement needs to have a separate 15A circuit just for the freezer. Is this true and are there any exceptions? My freezer is rated at 5amps. It is located in a storage room, and I would like to know if I can run the 2 - 100W incandescent lights on the same circuit. The current in the circuit is fine, but will code allow this?

Stubbie 02-11-2007 12:38 AM

If the nameplate running amps is only 5 amps it would not require a dedicated circuit. There are situations where a freezer with higher amp requirements may require a dedicated circuit. Other items would be fine on this circuit with your freezer. As a general rule you have 1440 watts useable for general purpose on a 15 amp (1800 watt) circuit. Your freezer needs 120 volts x 5 amps = 600 watts running. 1440 - 600 = 840 watts remaining. That is 14 ...60 watt incandescent light bulbs equivalent. So you get the idea.
One problem with lights on circuits with freezers is they may monmentarily dim when the compressor starts. Just something to consider. It doesn't bother most people.


budde97 02-11-2007 02:06 PM

Thank you very much for the information. That is what sounded reasonable to me. I am going to keep the extra circuits to a minimum off of this. I ran 12/2 wiring to the receptacle even though I was going to put this on a 15amp breaker. If I up this to a 20amp breaker, could I put a few other outlets on the same? These outlets will be very rarely used, but since I am limited on the number of breakers I have room for, I am looking for the most efficent layout.

Mike Swearingen 02-11-2007 05:16 PM

I'm not a pro electrician, but yes, you can upgrade that circuit to a 20 amp breaker if all wiring on it is 12/2wg, and you can add receptacles.
Depending upon what you had on it, the 15 amp breaker would probably do, although I would go ahead and do the 20 amp breaker.
When I wired my present home that I built in 1977, I put only 12g and up in it. There isn't a piece of 14g in my home, but that's just me. Always overkill.

Stubbie 02-11-2007 06:48 PM


I ran 12/2 wiring to the receptacle even though I was going to put this on a 15amp breaker. If I up this to a 20amp breaker, could I put a few other outlets on the same?
Yep, the NEC does not specifiy how many receptacles can be put on a general purpose branch circuit. Some like to calculate 180 watts per duplex receptacle which would mean 8 on a 15 amp circuit and 10 on a 20 amp considering recommended load of 80%. I dont think this is a very good way of realistically controlling load on plug and cord equipment but is useful for load calculations.

If you ran 12 awg then put in a 20 amp breaker anything less is a waste of precious power in a panel that is running out of breaker room. A 15 amp breaker on 12 awg gains you nothing in safety or load protection for general purpose cord and plug equipment. Todays vacuum cleaners draw a lot of amperage both starting and running. 20 amp general purpose branch circuits are the way you would want to do these receptacles. Or if both lights and receptacles by all means 20 amps. Also you do not need the 20 amp T-slot receptacle on 20 amp circuits just install the 15 amp ones (they have 20 amp feed thru rating). Most 20 amp T-slots are reserved for exercise equipment and window a/c and almost always when a piece of equipment comes with a 20 amp 5-20P it requires a dedicated circuit. So dont waste your money on them.

Branch circuits of 20 amps will provide 2400 watts of power. It is recommended to only load the circuit to 80% so that gives you 1920 watts. Remember this is a recommendation it may or may not be complied with seeing that it is dependent on what people plug in to the receptalces. Biggest issue is generally space heat where you can easily put 3000 watts on that 20 amp circuit rated for only 2400 watts. Or society today has many high wattage appliances so that is why code specifies 20 amps for receptacles in kitchens, bathrooms and laundries.

One bit of information that may be relative to your post is gfci protection. If the basement is unfinished gfci is required for all readily accessible receptacles. Example: If the freezer is plugged into a receptacle that is located behind the freezer it is not readily accessible and wouldn't require gfci. If however it is plugged into a receptacle where you can easily walk-up and un-plug the freezer then gfci is required. You can have both gfci protected outlets and regular ones on the same circuit.

One last thing... there are ways to safely increase the number of circuits in your panel. You may not be aware of them. Things like tandem breakers (not double pole) or thin line breakers or breakers that are rated for two hot wires to be connected etc..


RobertWilber 02-15-2007 03:09 PM

circuit derating is only required for continuous loads [like electric heat]

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