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Old 09-14-2010, 08:04 PM   #1
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Aside from code requirements for circuits in kitchen and bathroom, there really isn't a lot of guidelines for what to put on the same circuits. Stuff like separating lighting and receptacles on different circuits, or lighting and recept of each room on its own circuit? What about smoke detectors?

So my question is, what is general practice when it comes to how to split receptacles, lighting, smoke detectors, etc into different circuits?

I've found sample residential electrical diagrams, but they only show location of lighting and receptacles, and lines noting what each switch controls. Nothing about how wiring is run.

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Old 09-14-2010, 08:20 PM   #2
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you haven't found anything because there is no code to control how things are wired, generally. It is installers preference. I do things a certain way, other guys I know do them differently. Neither is right or wrong because when we are done, all the lights turn on and all the receps work and it meets code.

Most guys tend to keep lights and power separated. That way, if you trip a breaker using power, you have lights to go find the tripped breaker or get out of the room you are in.

Not sure about smokes (I don't do much resi so I do not recall certain parts of the code for resi well) but I would put them on a totally separate circuit regardless. Anytime I deal with emergency systems, I do not want them to lose power due to an overload of the circuit. Best way to be sure of that is to keep them on their own circuit.

when designing circuits, you should keep in mind what the recep might be used for. If it is a general housekeeping recep that isn't convenient for use for a permanent use, you can put a lot of those on one circuit because there is generally very little load on the circtuit at any given time. If I am feeding power to where an entertainment center will likely be, that area might get a circuit all of it's own.

I, personally, try to use at least 2 circuits in a bedroom. You share each of those circuits with another room or 2. This way, if somebody is doing something where they would overload a circuit (girls and their hair dryers and such), this way, there is another circuit in the same room so they can often go to a recep on a different circuit so they can remove some of the load from the one.

I'm sure you will get some differing opinions. Like I said, with no code directives, it becomes personal preference and everybody seems to have their own preferences.

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Old 09-14-2010, 08:27 PM   #3
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In Canada, smokes are supposed to be on a circuit with something used a lot like hallway lights so that you know there is power to them and the breaker is not tripped.
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Old 09-14-2010, 08:40 PM   #4
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I'm sure you will get some differing opinions. Like I said, with no code directives, it becomes personal preference and everybody seems to have their own preferences.
thanks for the detailed post.

I understand there is no code for it, so I was curious if there was a general practice that the pros go by.

The answer you gave is basically what I'm looking for. How others do it and why?
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Old 09-15-2010, 07:15 AM   #5
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I agree with NAP, it is installers preference. I look at the usage of the rooms. Often times I use one circuit for 2nd floor lighting and combine the two smaller bedroom receptacles on another circuit. I will give the master bedroom another circuit. If someone wants a home office that will be separate.
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Old 09-15-2010, 07:40 AM   #6
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I do the smokes with 2nd floor lighting lighting - AFCI protected
I only have 2 bedrooms on the 2nd floor
Master bedroom has 2 circuits, 2nd bedroom & walkin closet have another circuit
Each bathroom has its own GFCI circuit

With CFL's & reduced electric use I'm installing 2 light fixtures instead of 1
Bathroom has 3 recessed lights, bedroom has 3, 2nd bedroom has 2
2 fixtures in the stairway, utility rm, laundry & main basement

With my older house I've run additional circuits in the house since a lot of the outlets were shared between rooms
That allows us to plug in heavier use items (vacuum, window AC) without tripping the common circuit

I don't have any outlets that are switched by a wall switch
Just my preference....and none existed in the house
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Old 09-15-2010, 08:34 AM   #7
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I don't have any outlets that are switched by a wall switch
Just my preference....and none existed in the house
be careful about saying that. A switched lighting recep is required in each habitable room (with a few exceptions). In rooms that do not have overhead or wall mounted lights, that is generally provided by a switched wall receptacle.

and just to poke you; code calls an outlet any point of use of power in a room so technically, you do have switched outlets if you have lights you can turn off. That technical definition is why smoke detectors and lighting in a bedroom had to be placed on AFCI protected circuits when the code first included them.
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Old 09-15-2010, 09:09 AM   #8
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Correct as you usually are
To be correct I do not have any switched receptacles
Unless a lighting outlet can be called that
I did read that a lighting connection is referred to as an outlet
Has not quite stuck in my mind
I do install the overhead switched ceiling lights

The problem as I see with a switched wall receptacle to meet code.....
future homeowners may not put a lamp there...very restrictive
So IMO a switched receptacle is not the best choice to meet the code
We have an overhead light in the main room
But we use the table lamps more
The switch is by the front door...so to have switched receptacle would mean walking to the front door to turn the lamp on right beside us

With an overhead light....
If there is any chance I might installed a ceiling fan I run -3 wire
That way a ceiling fan & light can be installed in the future
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Old 09-15-2010, 09:43 AM   #9
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To further add confusion it only says the lighting outlet has to be installed. Some have argued elsewhere that no fixture needs to be installed, only the outlet for the fixture. While the wording seems to support this, I don't feel that this is in the best interest of the end user. But then again there is a chance that the lamp will not be plugged into the switched receptacle.
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Old 09-15-2010, 09:53 AM   #10
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the code simply requires there to be infrastructure to allow a switched light to be installed. Whether the occupant uses it or not is up to them. Code does not address that issue.

Now, if there is an overhead switched outlet and there is no light fixture, you might have a problem with the building inspector granting an occupancy permit more than the electrical inspector dinging you on a code violation as there really isn't an NEC violation (as I read it) if there are no fixtures at all. (except for the area of the panel which there is a code requirement to provide working light for the panel.)

Quote:
To be correct I do not have any switched receptacles
Unless a lighting outlet can be called that
I did read that a lighting connection is referred to as an outlet
a receptacle is a device intended to have something plugged into it. An outlet is merely a point intended to provide a source of power at that point. That is why an AC powered smoke has to be AFCI protected in a bedroom. The point of power supply for the detector is considered to be an outlet.

a receptacle is an outlet but an outlet is not necessarily a receptacle.
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Old 09-15-2010, 10:08 AM   #11
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Yeah...the more I read the code the more I learn
and the more confusing I realize it is
It can run you in circles as each section refers to other sections..then you read that section & it refers you back to the original section
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Old 09-15-2010, 10:27 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scuba_Dave View Post
Yeah...the more I read the code the more I learn
and the more confusing I realize it is
It can run you in circles as each section refers to other sections..then you read that section & it refers you back to the original section
It's about as fun as following specs that a customer gives you for design. We had one customer (very, very, very big company) that gave us a set of specs for us to follow. One part said we had to use long-life electrical components (made with lead), while their environmental spec said we couldn't use parts made with lead. We asked this company which spec to follow. They said "Yes."

Acerunner, are you laying out the wiring for a new house?
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Old 09-15-2010, 10:51 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by spaceman spif View Post
One part said we had to use long-life electrical components (made with lead), while their environmental spec said we couldn't use parts made with lead. We asked this company which spec to follow. They said "Yes."
?
gotta love it.

That is the time for an RFI/AAI so you can pin them down to a written response.
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Old 09-15-2010, 11:14 AM   #14
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i am doing a major remodel, and considering replacing older knob and tube with romex while walls are open.
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Old 09-15-2010, 11:26 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acerunner View Post
i am doing a major remodel, and considering replacing older knob and tube with romex while walls are open.
good idea.

I have never heard anybody complain they used too many circuits, only too few.

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