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Old 12-28-2011, 08:29 AM   #1
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How many outlets and lights on a circuit


Good day folks,

I'm sure this question has been asked, but I did a search and could not find anything.

I'm installing all the lights and outlets in 3 rooms and a hallway in my basement buildout and just wondered how many light fixtures and outlets were allowed for both a 15a and 20a circuit.

I planned on doing 8 recessed lights on one circuit, but am not sure on how to split up the rest.

Any help is greatly appreciated.

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Old 12-28-2011, 08:37 AM   #2
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How many outlets and lights on a circuit


The code sets no limit, with few exceptions.
Local codes may dictate.
My area has 10 as the limit.
Common sense also play a role.

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Old 12-28-2011, 08:47 AM   #3
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How many outlets and lights on a circuit


Yeah...it's the common sense part that always gets me

I was going to put the large family room on 2 15a circuits, one for the lights and one for the outlets. (probably a bit overkill).

I was planning on doing the office on a 20a. (It backs my comm room which has a dedicated 20a outlet already). I figured I would put both the lights and outlets on that circuit.

Then the bedroom and hallway I figured on doing both lights and outlets on the same circuit. I think load wise this will be fine. I just wanted to make sure I didn't screw myself for the future.
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Old 12-28-2011, 08:52 AM   #4
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How many outlets and lights on a circuit


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Originally Posted by jbfan View Post
The code sets no limit, with few exceptions.
Local codes may dictate.
My area has 10 as the limit.
Common sense also play a role.
+1

8 lights, assuming 60W ea., on it's own circuit seems like overkill IMO.
On a 15A circuit you would still have a potential 11A available.

Several people also say it's a good idea, though not required, to keep your max. load on a circuit at 80% of total. I'd have to agree with this.
15A circuit @ 80%: 12A or 1440Watts
20A circuit @ 80%: 16A or 1920Watts


Think about how you plan to use each circuit as well... Do you ever think you'll want to add more lights, make any changes?
3 rooms in a basement? Any bathrooms? Ceiling fans?

Depending on the size/use of the rooms, is it prudent to place all lights on their own circuit and each room with it's own 15A circuit for receptacles? Maybe it would make more sense to do one 15A circuit for each room and it's own lights.
The possibilities are endless.

I'm sure if you can give more details about what you plan on using/placing in each room, and other things such as your planned lighting then you can get some good suggestions from people here.

Good luck!
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Old 12-28-2011, 08:55 AM   #5
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How many outlets and lights on a circuit


If you install a 20 amp circuit instead of a 15 you get 1/3 more capacity for very little additional cost. A 15 amp for the lighting should be fine.

Remember that circuits for recessed lights get sized based on the maximum bulb size, not the actual bulb size installed.
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Old 12-28-2011, 08:57 AM   #6
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How many outlets and lights on a circuit


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Yeah...it's the common sense part that always gets me

I was going to put the large family room on 2 15a circuits, one for the lights and one for the outlets. (probably a bit overkill).

I was planning on doing the office on a 20a. (It backs my comm room which has a dedicated 20a outlet already). I figured I would put both the lights and outlets on that circuit.

Then the bedroom and hallway I figured on doing both lights and outlets on the same circuit. I think load wise this will be fine. I just wanted to make sure I didn't screw myself for the future.
Bathrooms must have their own 20A circuit.
You can either have outlets and lights for bathroom on that circuit...
Or you can place the bathroom outlets on their own 20A circuit, then place the hallways and bathrooms lights on another.
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Old 12-28-2011, 09:07 AM   #7
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How many outlets and lights on a circuit


In a basement I would DEFINITELY put the lights on their own circuit for safety sake. It minimizes the risk of tripping the breaker and plunging yourself in darkness.

The rest is just a matter of adding up your anticipated maximum wattage and proceeding accordingly. I have heard that your anticipated max watts should be no more than 80% of the capacity of the circuit but I don't know where that is from.

Clearly a bedroom is going to have a much lower capacity requirement than a home theater, so just use your common sense. Then again, if you have tons of room in your panel and don't know what you're going to use the rooms for then a few extra home runs is not going to break the bank.
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Old 12-28-2011, 09:22 AM   #8
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How many outlets and lights on a circuit


Fuzzball - There will be a bathroom however it is not in this projects budget, so it is future. It is on the same unfinished side as my panels.

Layout is, 6-6" recessed cans, 2-4" recessed cans in the "family room". 2 standard ceiling fixtures (2 bulb) in the office. 1 standard ceiling fixture (2 bulb) in the bedroom. 2 standard celing fixture (1 bulb) in the hallway.

If I do my math correctly it sounds like I should just put all this lighting on one circuit.

The office will be more of a "computer lab" for the kids and their gaming which is why I was going to go with 20a for that room. The bedroom will be low use...a TV and radio at most. The "family room" will not be a theater...my theater is on my main floor. It will basically be more of a game/toy room for the grandkids.

From these answers I'll go with 20a for all outlets and maybe tie in the bedroom with the office. Then tie the family room and hallway together on another 20a. This will leave me room for 3 future breakers for the bathroom and misc. future stuff.
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Old 12-28-2011, 09:46 AM   #9
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How many outlets and lights on a circuit


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...

If I do my math correctly it sounds like I should just put all this lighting on one circuit.

...

From these answers I'll go with 20a for all outlets and maybe tie in the bedroom with the office. Then tie the family room and hallway together on another 20a. This will leave me room for 3 future breakers for the bathroom and misc. future stuff.

Assuming each fixture is a max of 60W, you've got 840W or 7A - Plenty of power to spare.

You might consider putting the hallway on one of the other circuits.

The only reason I'd do this is so that on the off chance the main "lighting circuit" breaker did trip, that I(or someone else) would have some way to turn on lights somewhere close by. The hallway is usually a centralized point. 2 60W fixtures is a light load too.

Looks like you're on a good path.

Last edited by fuzzball03; 12-28-2011 at 09:56 AM.
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Old 12-28-2011, 09:51 AM   #10
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How many outlets and lights on a circuit


Yep...I read your second post after my last post. I think I will just put the hallway on a separate circuit and use it later for the bathroom lights/fan.

One other problem I noted was, I am going to separate out the recessed lighting to 3 switches. I plan on running my homerun to the switchbox and then to the lights. Can one homerun power all three loads from the switches? I hope that makes sense, but I recall reading that my line hot can only go to a maximum of 2 switches. Is that correct?

Thanks again
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Old 12-28-2011, 09:58 AM   #11
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How many outlets and lights on a circuit


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...

One other problem I noted was, I am going to separate out the recessed lighting to 3 switches. I plan on running my homerun to the switchbox and then to the lights. Can one homerun power all three loads from the switches? I hope that makes sense, but I recall reading that my line hot can only go to a maximum of 2 switches. Is that correct?

Thanks again
Just to make sure I'm reading this right, you're asking if you can have 3 switches in one 3-gang box to power 3 different loads?
If so, then as long as you dont violate any box fill requirements, then you'll be good.
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Old 12-28-2011, 10:03 AM   #12
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How many outlets and lights on a circuit


Correct fuzzball....I will have 1 switch for 3 of my can lights, 1 switch for 3 other can lights, and 1 switch for 2 small can lights. All are in the same room, but I only wanted to run one line from the panel to this box. So I figured a pigtail to the switches would work? It will all be in a single 3-gang box.
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Old 12-28-2011, 10:08 AM   #13
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How many outlets and lights on a circuit


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Correct fuzzball....I will have 1 switch for 3 of my can lights, 1 switch for 3 other can lights, and 1 switch for 2 small can lights. All are in the same room, but I only wanted to run one line from the panel to this box. So I figured a pigtail to the switches would work? It will all be in a single 3-gang box.
Correct, only 1 feeder in and 3 cables out to your fixtures.
If you use all single pole switches with 14ga wire, you'll need at least 32 cu. in.
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Old 12-28-2011, 10:10 AM   #14
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How many outlets and lights on a circuit


Excellent!! Thanks Fuzzball for your time, and to all others that helped me on this one. You guys are awesome!!
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Old 12-28-2011, 10:14 AM   #15
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How many outlets and lights on a circuit


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Excellent!! Thanks Fuzzball for your time, and to all others that helped me on this one. You guys are awesome!!

Sure thing.

Just to specify a bit:
In the above example, I assume you're using (3) switches and (4) 14/2 romex in a 3-gang box.
Other possible situations:
(3) 3-way switches, you'd have (1) 14/2, and (3) 14/3. You'd need 38 cu. in.
(3) single pole switches, (4) 12/2. You'd need 36 cu. in.
(3) 3-way switches, (1) 12/2 and (3) 12/3. You'd need 42.75 cu. in.

Good luck!

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