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Old 10-13-2008, 01:57 PM   #1
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number of outlets and/or lights


How many outlets and/or recessed lights should be ran on each 15 or 20 amp breaker?
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Old 10-13-2008, 02:13 PM   #2
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number of outlets and/or lights


It depends upon which room of the house.. For bathrooms and kitchens, you'd need different circuits for lights & receptacles (in the kitchen it's counter top receptacles).

If you're just talking about a bedrooms, living rooms, etc. the limits depend upon your intended usage. If, for example, you were planning on having a huge home theater system in your living room, you should probably put one receptacle on a 15 or 20A circuit just for that. If it's a bedroom with 4 recessed lights, 6 receptacles and one small TV, then 15 or 20A would be fine for the entire room.

Personally I'd put the lights and receptacles on separate circuits.

For the recessed lights, add up the rated Wattage of all the fixtures (not the Wattage of the light bulbs you're planning to use), and divide by 120. If that number comes out under 15, then you can put them all on a 15A circuit. Under 20 and you can go 20A.

(e.g. 10 recessed fixtures * 75 rated Watts = 750 Watts / 120 Volts = 6.25 Amps .. OK for a 15A circuit.)

If you're asking because you're planning on adding lights or doing a remodel, let us know which rooms are involved, how many lights you want, and what type..
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Old 10-13-2008, 06:05 PM   #3
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Thank you for the info.
I'm finishing my basement. There are going to be 26 outlets and 18 6" can lights for the main space with nothing big other than a tv (not sure how big yet). There is also a small bathroom down there and there will be one can light a fan and an outlet by the sink. Does that outlet need to be ran differently?

I appreciate any info.

miller
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Old 10-13-2008, 06:18 PM   #4
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You have enough recessed cans there that I'd advise you put them on a dedicated 15A circuit. <-- Opinion

The 26 receptacles you _could_ put on one circuit, but with this sorta thing you should plan for the future. Today a TV, maybe tomorrow a treadmill and a freezer. Much easier to allocate enough circuits now while the walls are open (or don't exist).

I think a rule of thumb is 8 receptacles per circuit; so you'd do fine with 3 circuits (8 + 9 + 9), and OK with 2 (13 + 13). One circuit seems to be stretching it, and you may regret it in the future. I'd run them 20A with #12 wire, too. If you were dividing the basement into multiple similar-sized rooms, putting the receptacles in each room on their own circuit are a good idea. <-- All Opinion

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here is also a small bathroom down there and there will be one can light a fan and an outlet by the sink
The light and fan you can put on the main lighting circuit (unless you have some crazy mega-fan/light) or another receptacle circuit, but the outlet (receptacle) must be 20A, on its own circuit, and have GFI protection. <-- Code requirement

Last edited by ScottR; 10-13-2008 at 06:22 PM.
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Old 10-13-2008, 06:35 PM   #5
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thank you for your response.
should I run everything with #12 wire or will #14 work?
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Old 10-13-2008, 06:39 PM   #6
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Scott's advice is very sound.

I would do the receptacles on #12 and the lighting on #14.
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Answers based on the 2008 & 2011 NEC. If you're on the '14 already I feel sorry for you.
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Old 10-13-2008, 06:58 PM   #7
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thank you both for your advise.
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Old 10-13-2008, 07:10 PM   #8
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Scott's advice is very sound.

I would do the receptacles on #12 and the lighting on #14.
Thanks Speedy!

Agreed.. #14 for 15A circuits, #12 for 20A. Though you can't go wrong using #12 for the 15A circuits if you end up buying too much. The reverse is not true.
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Old 10-13-2008, 07:23 PM   #9
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I agree with everything except the receptacles being #12, its personally a waste of your money. but that of course is just my opinion, you'll get a bigger bang for your buck running 3 #14 receptacle circuits than 2 #12 circuits, and you think I'm the man after working with #14 instead of #12.
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Old 10-13-2008, 08:05 PM   #10
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I agree with everything except the receptacles being #12, its personally a waste of your money. but that of course is just my opinion, you'll get a bigger bang for your buck running 3 #14 receptacle circuits than 2 #12 circuits
Wait.. 14/2 is just about two-thirds the cost of 12/2. If you're running 3 #14 circuits instead of 2 #12, it's just about a wash.. You'd need more 14/2 to get that 3rd circuit back to the panel tho, and another breaker..

Unless I'm missing something?

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and you think I'm the man after working with #14 instead of #12.
Damb. Can't argue with that...
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Old 10-13-2008, 08:06 PM   #11
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number of outlets and/or lights


You didn't post a location. In Canada 12 is the maximum outlets on a 15 or 20 amp circuit.
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Old 10-13-2008, 08:08 PM   #12
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Wait.. 14/2 is just about two-thirds the cost of 12/2. If you're running 3 #14 circuits instead of 2 #12, it's just about a wash.. You'd need more 14/2 to get that 3rd circuit back to the panel tho, and another breaker..

Unless I'm missing something?
Whoops, I'm missing something. I'm not gonna go back and edit though, even though no one read that yet.

The only extra wire would be that 3rd run back to the panel. The rest you'd need to install anyway.

Chris was correct.

I'd still run #12, but I'm an electronics junkie and always need that extra 5A.
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Old 10-13-2008, 10:23 PM   #13
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For the record I rarely run #12 unless code requires it. I totally agree with Chris.
It's just this is one of those times I'd do the receptacles on #12 even though not required.
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Answers based on the 2008 & 2011 NEC. If you're on the '14 already I feel sorry for you.
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