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Old 04-27-2010, 08:01 AM   #1
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Question about switches on a 20 amp circuit


I am wiring my basement and just finished my bathroom. It is code 20Amp GFCI with the lights (vanity and can) and exhaust fan all on the circuit. I put two switches in one for the lights one for the fan. I went to buy the switches at Home Depot and 15 switches were under a dollar and 20 amp switches were 4 dollars. My question is do I have to use 20 Amp switches on a 20 amp circuit or will 15 amp work.

Also, is there a limit on how many switches you can run off of a 20 amp circuit? I was going to run two light switches for my main area off of a 20 amp circuit and wanted to know if that is against code? Each switch will have 8 can lights, 75 watt max (but I will use CFL), so each switch will be at the rated 600 watt max. I was going to run the main feed into the box and then branch \ pigtail to each switch. Is that the proper way to do it?

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Old 04-27-2010, 08:08 AM   #2
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Question about switches on a 20 amp circuit


As long as the load on the switch is 15 amps or less, you can use 15a switches on a 20a circuit. No limit that I know of for the number of switches per circuit.

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Old 04-27-2010, 08:15 AM   #3
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Question about switches on a 20 amp circuit


Is that what most people do...bring the feeder line into the box and then branch out to the switches in the box? Is there a limit to wires you can wire nut together? If I have a 3 gang box and want to run power to 3 switches is it all right to run three pigtails off of the main hot to power the switches, so four wires in a wire nut? Of course if this falls under the CU inch rating for the box.
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Old 04-27-2010, 08:23 AM   #4
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Question about switches on a 20 amp circuit


Yep, that's how it's done. Bring the feed in, black goes into a wire nut with a few short lengths to feed each switch. The whites from the fixtures all get wire nutted to the incoming white. The blacks to the fixtures connect to the empty screws on the switches.

It says on the side of the box/bag of wire nuts the legal limit on wires for that particular size. If you're using 12g wire (you need to on a 20a circuit), you'll probably want a red wire nut for 4 wires, as I think the colors are pretty standard. I try and not push the upper (or lower) limit of the wire nut, I try to hit somewhere in the middle for ease and secure installation.
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Old 04-27-2010, 12:12 PM   #5
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Question about switches on a 20 amp circuit


Is it ok to just twist the grounds together or do most people wire nut those too?
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Old 04-27-2010, 01:25 PM   #6
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Question about switches on a 20 amp circuit


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Originally Posted by Abs777 View Post
Is it ok to just twist the grounds together or do most people wire nut those too?
They make special wire nuts for grounds. THey have a hole in the tip. So you take the ground from the feed wire, run it through the wire nut, and wrap it around the ground screw on each of the 3 switches. You can wrap it around the first switch in the middle of the wire (a "rabbit ear") then continue to the next switch. You don't have to pigtail to each device. then take your 3 ground wires coming from the light fixtures and tie them into the nut (but not through the hole in the tip).

Big box stores sell these nuts, they are green.
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Old 04-28-2010, 10:09 AM   #7
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Question about switches on a 20 amp circuit


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Originally Posted by secutanudu View Post
They make special wire nuts for grounds.
NEC doesn't require these "greenies" on grounds, regular wire nuts can be used as well.

For an added level of protection (especially as you begin to stuff the wires back into the box) I would always wire nut the grounds together (or use other types of clamps designed for electrical wires).

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