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Old 02-18-2010, 01:50 PM   #1
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Lights on circuit with outlets


Is it code to have lights on the same circuit outlets in a home? I am in Southern California. My neighbor with the same model has an AA in electrical engineering, and he thinks it is illegal. His home doesn't have lights on that circuit.

I do not mean lights plugged into an outlet, but ones in the ceiling wired to a wall switch. I don't know what their draw is, but it has to be minimal. The circuit is protected by a 15 a. breaker.

If this is bad, what about tapping ceiling fans with light kits into lines running to power outlets? (using approved connectors and junction boxes)

Thanks.
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Old 02-18-2010, 02:17 PM   #2
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Lights on circuit with outlets


Certain circuit must not have lights (kitchen counter for one) but almost any other circuit can be a mixture of lights and receptacles.
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Old 02-18-2010, 02:28 PM   #3
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Lights on circuit with outlets


To expand on joed's list you cannot have lighting on the following receptacle circuits; laundry, kitchen 20 amp small appliance and bathroom receptacles.

Lighting can share a circuit with receptacles in other areas.
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Old 02-18-2010, 02:31 PM   #4
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Lights on circuit with outlets


Interesting - I don't live in California so I'm not up with the code, there.

But I guess that might explain why several homes I've lived in haven't had overhead lights. . . always irritated me - and I always installed them.
Shame on me, I guess!

But, yeah, it's a standard that certain circuits must be isolated (your stove, hot water heater, dryer) . . . or strictly to the necessities of the room itself (bathroom can have air vent - air vent can have light, etc).
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Old 02-18-2010, 02:56 PM   #5
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Lights on circuit with outlets


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Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
To expand on joed's list you cannot have lighting on the following receptacle circuits; laundry, kitchen 20 amp small appliance and bathroom receptacles.

Lighting can share a circuit with receptacles in other areas.

This is half correct. You cannot have lighting on a circuit with the bathroom receptacle(s) if that circuit serves receptacles in another bathroom. However, you are permitted to serve all of the outlets (receptacles,lights, etc.) in one bathroom with a single 20A circuit as long as that circuit does not serve any other loads outside of that single bathroom.

Clear as mud?
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Old 02-18-2010, 02:58 PM   #6
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Lights on circuit with outlets


I was aware of that exception. I did not post that as I did not want to confuse the OP. The OP also said the circuit was 15 amp so this would not be regarding a bathroom circuit.
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Old 02-18-2010, 03:02 PM   #7
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Lights on circuit with outlets


Pulled this from another site

Quote:
Living Room, Dining Room, and Bed Rooms
These rooms require that a wall switch be placed beside the entry door of the room so that you can light the room before entering it.
I'm not sure of a code reference that requires it ?
I prefer an overhead switched light in every room
I'm lucky that this house - from the 50's - has a switched light in every room
It also has a ceiling fan in every room except dining room (and bath)

I always put lights on a seperate circuit from outlets, just my preference
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Old 02-18-2010, 03:16 PM   #8
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Lights on circuit with outlets


Jim Port, Snav, and Joed:

I am beginning to get the picture and will look into this further, as the rooms involved are a service porch and a quarter bath (powder room). Setting aside code, from what I have gotten from a quick google read is the problem is protecting the lightest wire on a circuit, which is probably. Hence, it is not a good idea to put 14 gauge, which his plenty for standard lighting, on a 20 amp circuit with 12 gauge. That may explain why the particular circuit has a 15 amp breaker.

Pulling a cover off a light switch in the quarter bath, I see where 12 gauge comes into the box, but the wires to and from the light and fan are 14.

Perhaps I should also have said that the quarter bath outlet has a gcfi protector as it is near the sink.

The only outlets in the service porch are on a separate circuit, but the florescent lighting recessed in the ceiling and the small exhaust fan are on the subject circuit.

Not knowing what code requires, I can understand why it isn't a good idea to mix outlets and lights, as someone may come along and upgrade the breaker to a 20 so as to max the power at the outlet, without realizing the circuit includes the lighter 14 gauge.

I suppose it doesn't make sense to swap out the 14 gauge for 12, unless the fixtures are also rated for 20 amp?

Jim: You wrote you cannot have lighting on a bathroom receptacle circuit. I assume what I call a powder room or quarter bath would be just such a bathroom and the circuit includes the one gfci protected receptacle, in which case there is a violation. True?
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Old 02-18-2010, 03:31 PM   #9
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Lights on circuit with outlets


Here is the text from the 2005 NEC regarding bathroom circuits from Article 210.

(3) Bathroom Branch Circuits.
In addition to the number
of branch circuits required by other parts of this section, at
least one 20-ampere branch circuit shall be provided to

70
-28supply bathroom receptacle outlet(s). Such circuits shall
have no other outlets.
[ROP 2113]

Exception: Where the 20-ampere circuit supplies a single
bathroom, outlets for other equipment within the same
bathroom shall be permitted to be supplied in accordance
with 210.23(A)(1) and (2).

Wiring contained in fixtures falls under a different set of rules than for branch circuit wiring. There is no need to upgrade the fixture wires to install them on a 20 amp circuit.

The wiring must be protected for the smallest conductor in the circuit. If there is any #14 in the circuit the breaker must be a 15 amp. This is why many would advise against mixing wire sizes in a circuit.
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Old 02-18-2010, 03:33 PM   #10
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Lights on circuit with outlets


Quote:
Originally Posted by DetroitEE View Post
This is half correct. You cannot have lighting on a circuit with the bathroom receptacle(s) if that circuit serves receptacles in another bathroom. However, you are permitted to serve all of the outlets (receptacles,lights, etc.) in one bathroom with a single 20A circuit as long as that circuit does not serve any other loads outside of that single bathroom.

Clear as mud?
Actually, it is pretty clear. This circuit has no other receptacles in any other bathrooms. Problem is the exception is for a 20A circuit. The primary wiring is good for 20, but the circuit isn't due to the 14 gauge cable running between the switch and light.

Jim Port: If a toilet and sink means its a bathroom, then that is what it is. The breaker is definitely a 15. My neighbor with the same model, but built in the next phase, has a 20 breaker and the lights in his quarter bath aren't on that circuit. Possible there was a code change around the date of construction, which was around 1989.

ScubaDave: This house was also built like with switches at the entrance to all rooms, which enables you to plug a light into a receptacle. I utilized those switches to control ceiling fans with light fixtures.
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Old 02-18-2010, 03:46 PM   #11
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Lights on circuit with outlets


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
Here is the text from the 2005 NEC regarding bathroom circuits from Article 210.

(3) Bathroom Branch Circuits.
In addition to the number
of branch circuits required by other parts of this section, at
least one 20-ampere branch circuit shall be provided to

70
-28supply bathroom receptacle outlet(s). Such circuits shall
have no other outlets.
[ROP 2113]

Exception: Where the 20-ampere circuit supplies a single
bathroom, outlets for other equipment within the same
bathroom shall be permitted to be supplied in accordance
with 210.23(A)(1) and (2).

Wiring contained in fixtures falls under a different set of rules than for branch circuit wiring. There is no need to upgrade the fixture wires to install them on a 20 amp circuit.

The wiring must be protected for the smallest conductor in the circuit. If there is any #14 in the circuit the breaker must be a 15 amp. This is why many would advise against mixing wire sizes in a circuit.
Thanks for quoting that Jim. I understand that I need not be concerned with the fixture wiring, but what you quoted seems to mandate that there be a 20 amp circuit, but it is a 15 due to the need to protect the #14 with a 15 amp breaker.
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Old 02-18-2010, 04:41 PM   #12
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Lights on circuit with outlets


Here is the NEC defintion of bathroom.

Bathroom.
An area including a basin with one or more of

the following: a toilet, a tub, or a shower.

Sounds like someone made an improper installation at your house.
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Old 02-18-2010, 04:47 PM   #13
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Lights on circuit with outlets


Yeah - wire work can easily be confused or jumbled. . .either from the start at construction or from following diy jobs.

It took me 2 months to rewire 3 circuits - they were all cross-connected. The doorbell and porch lights, for example, were connected by two different circuits even though they were listed together on one circuit at the fuse box.

The kitchen shared several things with the laundryroom - apparently "walls" don't define "a room" sometimes
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Old 02-18-2010, 04:49 PM   #14
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Lights on circuit with outlets


Jim Port: I think you are right about an improper installation. It may have passed when built, but mixed wiring is not a good idea. I am having some other lights and ceiling fans inspected and may quiz the inspector, who I have met and seems a good guy. Meanwhile, I am thinking that I may replace the 14 with 12, which shouldn't be much of a job it the cable isn't stapled, as it should be. Then I can upgrade the breaker to a 20.

Snav: I see you are a military mom. Good for you and yours. I am an ex Marine Corp VietNam Vet.

Last edited by Klawman; 02-18-2010 at 05:00 PM. Reason: MIxed wiring
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Old 02-18-2010, 05:01 PM   #15
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Lights on circuit with outlets


Sounds like a good plan. Especially if you can replace the #14 easily/
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