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Old 08-21-2011, 08:26 AM   #1
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Upgrading Wiring


In my new house I unfortunately discovered I have a federal pacific electrical panel. Even though it was inspected and looked ok, from what I've read, it needs to be replaced asap. So I figure it'll be a good time to update some wiring. The house is 1 story with an unfinished basement so running new wiring is pretty easy.

1. The kitchen has the refridgerator and 3 outlets all on one 15 amp circuit. The 3 outlets occasionally run a toaster, toaster oven, or coffee maker. I plan on running a new circuit just for the fridge, should I do 15 amp or 20? And should I upgrade the 3 outlets to 20 amps? I know code says 20 for each but I'm more interested in practicality.

2. The bathroom has one outlet and one light on a 15 amp circuit. The only high-draw current devices used on that circuit are the gf's hair straightner and hair dryer. Again, I know code says 20 amp but is it worth running new 12 gauge for this circuit?

3. Washing machine and sump pump are both on one 15 amp. 2 separate 20s for these or can they share a 20?

4. Anything else worth adding a new circuit for? Every other circuit in the house is 15 amp except the dryer, garage, electric stove, and hot water heater.

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Old 08-21-2011, 09:35 AM   #2
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This topic has been litigated to death on this forum over the last few years, do a search for "15 amp circuit" or "20 amp circuit you should get plenty of hits. Differing opinions, some like the ease of working with 14 gage wire, others like the flexibility of 20A circuits. I had a similar situation in my house, I replaced old, ungrounded circuits with all 20A, 12 gage Cu wire, and of course you need GFI in the kitchen, basement, garage, and wet areas, and AFCI in bedrooms and maybe some other places. For my GFI devices, I used mostly 20A with 20A pass through outlets, which cost a few bucks more than 15A pass through devices. I used mostly 20A contractor grade outlets and switches, again they cost a few bucks more, but I can run high draw devices, and I figure the devices may last longer than a 15A switch or outlet.

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Old 08-21-2011, 09:55 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Daniel Holzman View Post
This topic has been litigated to death on this forum over the last few years, do a search for "15 amp circuit" or "20 amp circuit you should get plenty of hits. Differing opinions, some like the ease of working with 14 gage wire, others like the flexibility of 20A circuits. I had a similar situation in my house, I replaced old, ungrounded circuits with all 20A, 12 gage Cu wire, and of course you need GFI in the kitchen, basement, garage, and wet areas, and AFCI in bedrooms and maybe some other places. For my GFI devices, I used mostly 20A with 20A pass through outlets, which cost a few bucks more than 15A pass through devices. I used mostly 20A contractor grade outlets and switches, again they cost a few bucks more, but I can run high draw devices, and I figure the devices may last longer than a 15A switch or outlet.
20 amp receptacles in a house are usually a waste of money. Few people own any tools or appliances that need a 20 amp receptacle. Besides they look funny in a house.
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Old 08-21-2011, 10:02 AM   #4
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The kitchen and the bath both require 20 amp circuits. One for the bath and at least two for the kitchen counter receptacles. The rest can be 15.
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Old 08-21-2011, 10:06 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matt151617 View Post
1. The kitchen has the refridgerator and 3 outlets all on one 15 amp circuit. The 3 outlets occasionally run a toaster, toaster oven, or coffee maker. I plan on running a new circuit just for the fridge, should I do 15 amp or 20? And should I upgrade the 3 outlets to 20 amps? I know code says 20 for each but I'm more interested in practicality.
Why not leave the refrigerator on this circuit by itself and run new wire to counter top?

2. The bathroom has one outlet and one light on a 15 amp circuit. The only high-draw current devices used on that circuit are the gf's hair straightner and hair dryer. Again, I know code says 20 amp but is it worth running new 12 gauge for this circuit?
Replace the receptacle with a ground fault

3. Washing machine and sump pump are both on one 15 amp. 2 separate 20s for these or can they share a 20?
Run a new circuit for the sump

4. Anything else worth adding a new circuit for? Every other circuit in the house is 15 amp except the dryer, garage, electric stove, and hot water heater.
Does your panel have unused spaces for additional breakers?
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Old 08-21-2011, 10:06 AM   #6
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Fridge can be on a 15 amp individual circuit.
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Old 08-21-2011, 10:22 AM   #7
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The laundry circuit is required to be a 20 amp circuit. Leave the sump on the 15 amp circuit unless you add a new circuit for it.
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Old 08-21-2011, 10:54 AM   #8
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.....

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Old 08-21-2011, 10:55 AM   #9
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I did already install gfic outlets in the bathroom, garage, basement outlets (that are on another circuit, not with the washer/sump pump), and outside outlets. Kitchen already had a gfci on the fridge outlet. The kitchen has 4 outlets, 2 on the far side of the kitchen, one behind the fridge, and one next to the sink. The fridge gfci protects the other outlet next to the sink. I think I'll pull the current fridge gfci and tie the wires together to bypass. Then install the gfci at the first outlet, and run a new 15 to the fridge. Simple and easy.

And I'll leave the sump on the 15 and add a 20 for the washer. Again pretty easy since the washer is only about 10 ft from the panel. Personally I hate dealing with 12 gauge so this will be pretty easy.

Plenty of unused spaces but stab-lok breakers are super expensive. New panel should have empty slots too. I'll deal with afic once a get the panel done since it'll need new breakers anyways.
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Old 08-21-2011, 02:13 PM   #10
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20 amp receptacles in a house are usually a waste of money. Few people own any tools or appliances that need a 20 amp receptacle. Besides they look funny in a house.
True...quite true....

I think where some people get confused is using 12-2 with 15A receptacles....why run 20A wiring is your only using a 15a recept? On the surface it sounds right....except, that branch ckt usually serves more than one recept. One of the other common questions.....how many recept can you put on one 20a branch.....best I can tell....all you want....

I'm doing a 2-story addition to my house right now....existing house was built in 52....no grounds in any recept.....at least the wireing is 12g.

I upgraded my electrical from the 60A to 200A....and ran 4 new ckts to the kitchen. That was 10 years ago.....I'm about to make even more changes. I'm upgrading all of the existing bedrooms to grounded outlets and AFIC. (I have kids)

Per my drawings, this is what I have to have as a min for outlets.

All kitchen counter acessable outlets have to be GFIC
Fridge on it's on non-GFIC ckt...15A ok....(but I already have 12-2 going to it)
Washer and dryer on their own 20A ckt
Any outside or garage outlets acessable from the ground level...GFIC
Smoke detector...own ckt.
Each bathroom on it's own ckt with GFIC
Bedrooms...AFIC
HVAC...own 20a ckt
I guess everyone knows you don't put lights on the same breaker as outlets...right?
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Old 08-21-2011, 03:10 PM   #11
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I guess everyone knows you don't put lights on the same breaker as outlets...right?
This is a design choice and is not required by the NEC. Some instances may make this a wasteful practice for small areas.
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Old 08-21-2011, 05:10 PM   #12
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This is a design choice and is not required by the NEC. Some instances may make this a wasteful practice for small areas.
As I always understood it....it could create a safety hazard....trip the breaker for the outlet...and now your in the dark...

Truth is, I don't know if it is in the NEC....but like so many things, just because there is no rule against it, it doesn't mean you should do it.

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