Multiple Circuits in Bathroom required?


Old 10-19-00, 10:06 AM
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I have been reading that multiple circuits are required in a bathroom electrical design. One for GFCI receptacles, and one a general lighting circuit. If this is the case, how did my new home, and many homes that friends have, how did it pass inspection when there is one circuit that supplies the whole bathroom, along with an additional room? An unfinished bathroom has rough wiring in it, and there is only one circuit also. Is this an exemption for new constructions? Should I be concerned? Should I rewire the unfinished bathroom? Please help...
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Old 10-19-00, 10:28 AM
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The NEC is a general code for electrical wiring. Individual states, and counties/cities/etc. within the states must adopt the new version of the code before it becomes law in that area. Some places may even adopt more restrictive code than the NEC. It is just a recommendation, though it is very widely accepted and implemented. But, some places are slower than others to adopt the new versions and your area may be behind on that. Your local inspector is the final authority on what is legitimate in your area.

Let me address the issue of separating the GFCI outlets from the general lighting in a bathroom. I think the concern addressed by this is so that if the GFCI trips, it won't plunge the room into darkness. You could make sure the GFCI is located after the light in the circuit to accomplish this. I'm not sure what other concerns there might be driving this new code requirement.
Old 10-19-00, 10:38 AM
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Thanks Ranck. Do all receptacles in a bathroom need to be GFCI protected? I assume that if I wire a GFCI upstream with pass through that it will suffice?
Old 10-19-00, 11:09 AM
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Yes, all the outlets in a bathroom should be GFCI protected, and one outlet will protect them all if it is wired first in the string.
Old 10-21-00, 08:20 PM
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Ranck is right about the NEC being different in areas all over the world. Some areas leave it as advisory and some states etc. make it rules of law. The judicial system in you province or state etc. makes this determination. When we post replies in this forum we usually refer to the newest version without local revisions. This is the only way that we can be uniform in our replies. You then must translate these replies into you local jurisdiction.

As for bathroom circuits. The 99 NEC allows two options.

Option 1; You can run your lighting in your bathrooms on any 15 amp or 20 amp general lighting circuit and then run a dedictated 20 amp bathroom receptacle circuit with all the bathroom receptacles throughout your dwelling on the same dedicated 20 amp bathroom receptacle circuit, but no lighting, fixed appliances, or anything in any other area or room will be allowed on this dedictated bathroom receptacle circuit.

Option 2 Run a dedictated 20 amp bathroom circuit to carry everything in a certain bathroom, including whirlpool tubs, and lighting etc. on that 20 amp dedictated bathroom circuit, but nothing outside that certain bathroom, not even another bathroom will be allowed on that dedicated bathroom circuit.

The main reason the the bathroom receptacle power design has changed is because hair dryers etc. are getting so large of a load on them that it takes a 20 amp circuit just for that one hair dryer.

Check your bathroom and see if your hair dryer is rated for 2000 watts or more. Then remember that a 20 amp circuit is only capable of carrying 2400 watts as a total amp load on a 20 amp circuit.

Hope this helps


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