Wiring branch circuit receptacles

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Old 10-14-02, 02:48 PM
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Wiring branch circuit receptacles

(For those of you keeping track at home (and for those of you who aren't ), this weekend I installed the new main lug I've been asking questions about. Because we changed out minds last minute on where we were going to put it, all my time was spent removing a stud and placing new ones on either side of where that one was in order to mount the panel. My plan is to run the cable and energize it this evening.)

While removing some receptacle plates in the dining room so my wife could paint the walls, I decided to go ahead and remove the receptacles since we don't use them right now and I will be rewiring and replacing them soon. After I taped the wires and re-energized the circuit, I realized one receptacle in the living room wasn't working. So (after pulling the fuse) I found the receptacle in the DR with 4 wires in it and tied the blacks together and the whites together. Of course, the LR receptacle worked after that. That got me thinking, and leads (finally) to my question:

All things being equal (as in, if NEC is followed in all cases), what is your OPINION as to the best way to wire a number of receptacles on one branch circuit?

1) Obviously running one circuit for each receptacle is overkill.
2) Would you do as in this case and wire the next receptacle in the branch directly from the previous one? (What would be the name for this?) [I assume you are affectively putting the receptacles in series?]

{Please ignore all the dots '..............' in the drawings below. Since the forum automatically removes all the extra spaces, that was the only way I could draw anything and make it somewhat discernible.}

............IN
...(HOT)....(NEU)
......|...........|
......|..____..|
......|/........\|
......||.|...|.||
.......|...o....|
........\____/
.........|___|
......../.......\
.......|..|..|..|
......||...o....||
......|.\____/..|
......|............|
...(HOT).....(NEU)
..........OUT

3) Would you (can you) "run the wire by" the receptacle on its way to the next and run a "pigtail" (I hope I am using this term correctly) to the receptacle? [I guess you would basically be running the receptacles in parallel?]

IN ________________________ OUT (HOT)
...................\
IN __________|________________ OUT (NEU)
....................|.........\
....................|..........|
....................|..........|
....................|..____..|
....................|/........\|
....................||.|...|.||
.....................|...o....|
......................\____/
.......................|___|
....................../.......\
.....................|..|..|..|
.....................|...o....|
......................\____/

[Please note for visual clarity purposes the grounding conductor is not being shown.]

4) Some other method?

Personally, I would think in order to keep problems in one area from causing problems in another to go with #3, but I often get told, "That's what you get for thinking."

Please comment. Thanks!
 
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Old 10-14-02, 04:21 PM
bwetzel
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First of all, the way that you have drawn this, it has a reverse polarity. While looking at the recpt. Ground down, the hot should be on the right and the white is on the left. Anyways, All recpts. should be spliced in the box and a single set of wires landed on the device. The Nec doesn't address this unless it is in a multiwire circuit,( Two circuits sharing a nuetral) but the Nec is a minnium standard. Splicing behind a recpt. is a good practice. Besides, it is alot easier to push 3 wires comming off of a recpt then it is pushing 5. Hope this helps
Brian
 
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Old 10-14-02, 05:56 PM
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Splicing/pigtailing non multiwire circuits is in my opinion a waste. It makes more work and it takes up more space in the box for the wire nuts and extra pigtail wire.
 
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Old 10-14-02, 06:35 PM
bwetzel
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I never had a problem with space. As far as the extra work, A good job takes a little more time. I have seen two many times burnt recpts because the screw came loose over time because of the load of the circuit is passing through it causing the change of temps. And don't get me started on using the backstabs for # 14. That is the worse troubleshooting problem when a nuetral comes out of the backstabs.
Brian
 
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Old 10-14-02, 07:14 PM
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My "opinion" is that using the two screws is as good as using a pigtail. I have absolutely no facts on which to base this opinion, but I have seen no facts that contradict it either. Anecdotal evidence is not sufficiently convincing. A badly installed wire nut can come loose as well as a badly used screw. Whichever way you pick, do a good job.
 
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Old 10-15-02, 08:25 AM
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Thanks for the replies, everyone.

How about this one: Could I run wire from my panel into the attic and lay out the wire along the full course it will run. Then, above the wall where each receptacle is on this branch, place a junction box, splice into the long run of wire, and run wire from the splice down the wall to the receptacle?

(Of course the end of the run would not be spliced, but run straight down the wall to the last receptacle on the circuit.)

Since this is old work, it would be easier than trying to splice 'behind' the receptacle. Also it would reduce the number of connections, wire nuts and wires inside the receptacle box, and it would have each receptacle wired so that a problem with one receptacle shouldn't cause a problem downstream. This solution would probably make it easier for me to fish wires, too.

(I have complete, total and easy attic access.)

Is this a feasible non-code breaking solution?
 
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Old 10-15-02, 09:59 AM
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Yes, that'd be okay. You will need to protect the cable in the attic, either by running it on the side of a joist, or by nailing a board alongside of the cable. You just don't want anybody stepping directly on the cable.

The result you describe is acceptable, but I hope you're not really planning to use the procedure you outlined. It'll be better to nail up your boxes first and then run the cable from box to box, rather than try to run the cable first and then add the boxes.
 
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Old 10-15-02, 11:18 AM
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Mr. Nelson:

Thanks for the reply. We do store things in the attic and walk around quite a bit so for the sake of us tripping I would have tucked the cable out of the way anyway. I will make sure it is properly secured as you described.

No, I don't think I would have used the procedure I outlined once I got started. I just thought of it as I was sitting here at work and quickly posted the thought in a manner I hoped was understandable. I am very anal about planning and preparation (though we all know sometimes that all gets thrown out the window! ), so I appreciate the advice on locating and mounting the boxes first.

I believe in my case this will be the best route to take so I won't have to open up any walls.

A second question:

Instead of doing like most houses are laid out with all the receptacles of one room on one circuit and with two or three rooms connected together on the same circuit, I was thinking of putting half the receptacles in a few rooms on one circuit and the other half on a separate circuit so that if power ever needed to be cut to a certain receptacle (or if there was ever a problem) other receptacles in the same room would work for plugging in any tools, lights, etc. that might be needed.

Is this legal, acceptable, reasonable and/or recommended, or is it not a good idea?

Thanks!
 
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Old 10-15-02, 11:25 AM
texsparky
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You can have as many different circuits as you want in any room.
 
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Old 10-15-02, 10:13 PM
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I guess I'd dispute your suggestion that "most houses are laid out with all the receptacles of one room on one circuit and with two or three rooms connected together on the same circuit." I'm not sure there is any one particular way that "most houses" are wired. Pretty much every variation that you can think of is done.
 
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Old 10-16-02, 10:16 AM
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I believe the best method for connecting devices to Branch-Circuit conductors is using stranded wire as connecting leads. Example--- you have a receptacle outlet with 2 Black wires and 2 White wires. Using "side-cutters" twist the 2 Black wires together and then the 2 White wires. You now have a "thru" connection for the Branch-Circuit conductors which eliminates a "device-break" in the circuit. Purchase Black,White, and Red stranded wire, a box of spade-type crimp-lugs, and a crimping tool.Cut the wire in 6" leads, crimp the lugs on the wire,and compress the lugs under the device terminals. Remove the device screws and discard them and wrap electrical tape around the device to insulate the terminals. Wire-nut the leads to the Branch-Circuit conductors and neatly "stuff" the connections inside the box. You won't have to disturb the Branch-Circuit conductors again which will eliminate damaging the insulation or "snapping" the end off the wire because of excessive bending and deflection of the wire.This occurs with solid wire. You'll have an easy fit of the device into the box because of the flexibilty of the stranded leads and a much easier re-placement of the device when necessary. Use 6/32" steel machine screws instead of the screws on the device. If you re-placing 3-way switches,connect 1 Black and 2 Red leads to the terminals.
 
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Old 10-16-02, 08:48 PM
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Why are you removing the 6/32 screws just to replace them? Is there something I am missing?
 
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