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Old 01-25-2010, 09:02 AM   #1
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Minimizing Branches Perhaps?


Is there anything in code to suggest that the number of branches on a circuit, or the number of branches in a junction box be minimized?

I'm asking because of a curious thing I discovered while re-wiring my basement to get ready to finish it in.

The original basement circuit contained 6 electrical outlets, three inside the basement itself, and three outdoor outlets.

The 1st indoor outlet was a GFCI (make sense). The 1st outlet fed the 2nd indoor outlet. The 2nd indoor outlet fed the 1st outdoor outlet and the third indoor outlet. The third indoor outlet fed the remaining two outdoor outlets.

Now that sound fine on paper, but the third outdoor outlet was over 40 feet of wire from the last outdoor outlet, yet only about 12 to 15 feet of wire from the second outlet. Even if you wanted to limit an outlet to feeding no more than two additional outlets, you still could have fed the last outdoor outlet with 14 to 17 feet of wire from the first outdoor outlet (one was outside downstaird, the other was up on the deck).

So I'm trying to figure out why an electrician would use almost 50 feet of wire when the job could have been done with only 15 feet.

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Old 01-25-2010, 12:50 PM   #2
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Minimizing Branches Perhaps?


In my case, I like things to be "logical". Make things easier for troubleshooting in the future.

So I might put all outside outlets on one circuit. And maybe all outside lighting on another circuit.

But this may look silly if looking at the wiring. There might be an outside outlet and right above it an outside light which could have been tied into that outlet, but was not. And the wiring for that light might go 30 ft. to the next outside light.

But if I am using an outlet outside at night and the breaker trips, I would still have lights to see what I was doing!

Then another reason with new construction is to limit costs. It might be cheaper to use a smaller breaker panel and run more wiring. Keep in mind that the cost of wire was less expensive in the past.

And then there is "add-on do it yourself work". Some homeowners don't know how to add a new breaker, but they do know how to tap into an existing outlet. So maybe a homeowner installed the wiring?

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Old 01-25-2010, 01:05 PM   #3
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Minimizing Branches Perhaps?


Code indicates what you can do, practical use indicates how you want to wire something
I have ~18 existing dedicated outside 20a circuits & adding more
If I moved a new homeowner might thing I was crazy doing that

So could be the person had a need for a new circuit due to a load on the existing circuit

Code does indicate calculating the load on a circuit & running wire/circuits as needed to meet that load

Maybe they were using a space heater or somthing else
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Old 01-25-2010, 01:19 PM   #4
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Minimizing Branches Perhaps?


Just to be clear, we purchased the house brand-new, so no add ons.

As for circuit counts, all of the basement outlets and the outdoor outlets are all on a single 15amp breaker. The outdoor lights might also be on this same circuit, but that's irrelevant to the question at hand...

Why, in new construction, would you feed an outlet from another an outlet on the other side of the house when there is an outlet ON THE SAME CIRCUIT not only physically closer, but even closer to the circuit breaker box.

Unless there is some reason for keeping the wire counts down in the outlet boxes, it sounds more like a stupid oversite when a sub was assigned to task of wiring up the outside outlet on the front porch and back deck that he simply pulled the wire for both outlets from the same source rather than looking at the rest of the circuit to find a better place to tie into.

Last edited by HooKooDooKu; 01-25-2010 at 01:29 PM.
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Old 01-25-2010, 01:20 PM   #5
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Minimizing Branches Perhaps?


The number of wires in a junction box are limited by box fill calculation
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Old 01-25-2010, 02:50 PM   #6
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Minimizing Branches Perhaps?


Quote:
Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
...Why, in new construction, would you feed an outlet from another an outlet on the other side of the house when there is an outlet ON THE SAME CIRCUIT not only physically closer, but even closer to the circuit breaker box...
The people who run "rough wiring" for new construction might be inexperienced. And as I recall, when I was doing this a LONG time ago, no one ever said a word to me about how much wire we used. Rather there was pressure to get things done quickly!

So quickly wire one house - boom - done, on to the next house. We got a pat on the back if we got the work done under the time allotted for each house. (And if the circuits worked as they should.)

If you took too long or the circuits did not do what they should, then you would be looking for another job. But no one cared how you ran each specific wire or how much wire you used.

And that is it pretty much the same anywhere I ever worked. One company I worked for had a guy who would spend hours/days doing absolutely neat and tidy wiring jobs. Looked fantastic! But he was constantly being yelled at by the boss to "speed things up"!

Contractors bid on these things. The most expensive cost is labor. This is factored into the bid. If the labor takes longer than what was factored into the bid, management will not be happy (no profit!).

I have worked for companies in the past who told us to not spend 3 hours finding the exact location for a problem with a wire. Rather to run a new wire if the wire was not working.

The message was: Wire is cheap, labor is expensive!

One scenario might be someone forgot to run a wire to that outlet when the crew came in to do the rough wiring. Then the experienced electrician came along and noticed this (before drywall put up!). Then he may have grabbed a lesser experienced worker and told him to run a wire to that outlet. And that it should be on such and so circuit along with "this outlet here" (points to the far outlet). So the worker runs a wire from that outlet to the outlet which needs the wire.

The inexperienced worker would get a pat on the back for doing this task quickly. The guys would say he was a "good worker".

If he took an hour to trace wires, look at the building plans, etc. so he could run the wire the shortest distance, the other guys would say he "takes too long" or is a "slow worker"!

Could be all sorts of reasons. Also they may have stopped work on a Friday and that outlet still needed to be done. Then another crew came in Monday to finish and was too "hung over" from the weekend fun to do any "thinking"...
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Old 01-25-2010, 03:53 PM   #7
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Minimizing Branches Perhaps?


Good explination Billy Bob.


I've also figured out it MIGHT have something to do with box fill if the were using 18 cu.in. boxes.

I've given myself a quick lesson on box fill. If I've learned my lesson correctly, an 18 cu.in. box with an outlet inside is limited to three pieces of 14/2 romex in and out the box. Each box will require one line wire, and can supply two low wires. If the outlet already has two loads (in this case, the 1st outside outlet and the third inside outlet), then you've got to pull your line for the outdoor outlet from somewhere else. In this case, the last inside outlet provided the line for two outside outlets.

Now where I went and added a 4th inside outlet sourced from that 2nd inside outlet, I've got to make sure I have a 20 cu.in. box or bigger.

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