how many outlets to a circuit


  #1  
Old 01-12-04, 05:12 PM
pickster
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how many outlets to a circuit

I'm building a house and am doing my own wiring. I was wondering how many outlets am I allowed for each circuit? I was told I'm allowed 8 outlets including my ceiling fan and light switch. Is this correct? I was planning on putting 10 outlets in my master bedroom using 12/2 wire for the outlets and 14/3 for my ceiling fan/ lights on a 15 amp breaker. Is this to many and what if I put the room on a 20 amp breaker, can I legaly have 10 outlets + light switch and ceiling fan? Thanks
 
  #2  
Old 01-12-04, 05:20 PM
J
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Nec has no restriction except for kitchen counters and bathrooms. Some local codes have restrictions.
 
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Old 01-12-04, 06:05 PM
J
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I am concerned. My concern may be unfounded, but nevertheless I am concerned.

You seem to be asking a Biology 101 question while preparing for brain surgery. If you are going to wire your house yourself, make sure you read a dozen good books on home wiring. Make sure that at least two of those books cost more than $50. At least 9 of these 12 books will explain the rules (or lack of them) for the number of outlets on a circuit.

And don't put your faith in any "I was told" information. If what you learn doesn't come with a code reference, it isn't reliable.

Now, climbing back down from the soapbox, I reinforce what Joe said. The NEC puts no limit on outlets on a circuit, but some local juristictions do. However, there are a hundred other code issues for what can go on what circuit, and for how many circuits you need. Furthermore, you will want to far exceed codes for the number of circuits to provide maximum usability for your new house.

Rule of thumb (but not rule of law): Eight outlets on a 15-amp circuit and ten on a 20-amp circuit is the most you want to go. For most circuits, don't even go that high.

A receptacle is an outlet. A smoke detector is an outlet. A ceiling fan is an outlet. But a light switch is not an outlet.
 
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Old 01-12-04, 06:10 PM
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OK. I don't want to come off the wrong way here.

You are proposing to put 10 receptacles, on 12/2, a ceiling fan/light on 14/3, all on a 15 amp breaker? Then asking if you can install a 20 amp?

These are very basic electrical areas and what you are proposing is very wrong. You cannot mix wire sizes within a circuit unless you size the breaker to the smallest wire. In a new installation there is NO reason to mix wire sizes.
You can put as many receptacles/lights on a circuit as you want. Most stay in the ten range for all BR, LR, den, etc.

Like I said, this is basic stuff. Do you really feel qualified to do this work? Do you know the code? How about AFCI protection for bedrooms? Kitchen requirements, bathrooms? GFI's?

SOME wiring can be a DIY project, this is why I come here to try and eliminate possible (dangerous) problems for someone doing a project. To wire a whole house is a completely different story, as is replacing a service. Neither of which do I consider a DIY project which I state vocally at the risk of being reprimanded.


Edit: Not to sound redundant, was typing during John's post.
 
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Old 01-12-04, 07:43 PM
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If you insist on doing this project yourself, I suggest that you find a competent electrician who is familiar with the codes for houses who will work with you. This may not be easy to do, but if you keep looking you should be able to find one.

Depending on hw the electrician will want to work it, you will still be able to do much of the work yourself. Having an electrician on the job will help to prevent common mistakes (both code violations and bad choices), and will give you someone to go to to ask questions.

Even the best inspector won't catch every mistake made, and doing it yourself you will make mistakes. The key is that you don't want to make mistakes that are dangerous or that result in you having to redo portions of your wiring, resulting in lost time and additional expense.
 
  #6  
Old 01-14-04, 12:47 AM
georgekopf
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Buy this book

You are on the first step to wiring your own house and that is asking questions so that you don't make a mistake. I'm using "House Wiring with the National Electrical Code" by Ray C. Mullin. It is answering all my questions but you have to read it from cover to cover. It's not very good as a spot reference. The answer to your question is that your circuit must be sized to handle the maximum amps that you are going to run on it. Snce wire is cheap and your walls are exposed, put fewer receptacle on each circuit. Some electricians like to put the top outlet on one circuit and the bottom on another, so that if the breaker trips on one the room still has power.

Are you using 15 amp receptacles or 20amp receptacles? Your breaker must be sized for the skinniest wire in the circuit. Put your outlets that are never used on a circuit with many other outlets that are never used. Put your outlets that are used heavily by appliance that draw a lot of amps on circuits with a few other outlets.

A 15 amp breaker can handle 120 volts x 15 amp = 1800 watts. A 20 amp breaker can handle 120 volts x 20 amps = 2400 watts. Add a fudge factor and play it safe. I'm running all 12 guage wire and putting no more than 1500 watts on my 15 amp breakers and 2000 watts on my 20 amp breakers.

Good Luck.
 
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Old 01-14-04, 03:54 AM
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George, you are giving some flawed advice.

There is no reason in a dwelling to use 20 amp receptalces unless there is a specific appliance which has a 20 amp plug or it's a single receptacle on a 20amp circuit.

Like I stated before, there is no reason in a new job to mix wire sizes.

Why are you using 15 amp breakers on 12 wire? Do you feel it's safer? It's not.

Appliances have a whole set of rules for the kitchen and laundry. You cannot mix them with other rooms.

The wattages you stated are max for each. How can you figure wattages for general use receptacles? For load calculations 180va is used.
 
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Old 01-14-04, 04:07 AM
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Another thing I've noticed is the use of 15 amp recepticles on a 20 amp circut. A small grip I know, but it drives me nuts!!!!! Also, do yourself a favor, put your lights on there own circut. (No Speedy pete, I'm not starting my rant on 12-2 verses 14-2 )
If you happen to short or overload a circut, at least you won't be in the dark. There's a ton of little tricks in wiring a house. And alot of other details you really should take into consideration. Seek out a pro for advice and tips. I'm not saying you're incapable of what you're proposing to do. I think you just don't understand the actual task you're putting on yourself. If your wiring the house, have you considered cable for TV'S, phone wires, speaker wires, alarm if you're going that way. Really, research this out. You'll be happy with the end results. I myself would never go that many outlets on one circut.
 
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Old 01-14-04, 05:11 AM
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There is nothing wrong with using a 15 amp receptacle on a 20 amp circuit. What is your problem with that?
 
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Old 01-14-04, 02:31 PM
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Joed,

My personal problem with it is that it causes some concern when found in a panel.
It makes me wonder what else was done wrong and why did someone have to stray from the norm of 14=15amp, 12=20amp.
 
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Old 01-14-04, 02:34 PM
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Thats what I was driving at. Thanks
 
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Old 01-14-04, 02:55 PM
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Great minds think alike! Well, mostly.
 
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Old 01-14-04, 03:05 PM
J
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Are we debating 15-amp receptacles on a circuit protected by a 20-amp breaker? Or are we debating 15-amp receptacles on 12-gauge wire? Or are we debating 12-gauge wire on a circuit protected by a 15-amp breaker?

All are legal. I'm just trying to decide what exactly you guys don't like.
 
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Old 01-14-04, 03:58 PM
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True, all are legal. Personal reasons and not trying to start a flame war here. If it says 15 amp then why put it on a 20 amp circut? Just a personal taste. I don't like taking chances or having to explain to a person that a "15 amp recepticle is fine on a 20 amp breaker" Saves problems, no B.S. and I go home happy. Peace!
 
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Old 01-14-04, 04:06 PM
georgekopf
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And the forum degrades into a religious crusade.

What I can't figure out is why anybody would bother to put any 14 guage wire in their house. The 12 guage is marginally more expensive and has more intrinsic utility. I've got 15 amp receptacles on a 15 amp breaker, the circuit is labled at the panel and the load is well under the prescribed limit. As far as I'm concerned, it's less complex and reduces the possibility of errors.

I believe that the only real reason to use 14 guage is to save some money on materials.

Note: The above comment should be read in the tone of friends sharing a beer and casually commenting on their own beliefs. It is not meant to be read in an accusatory or inflamatory way. In no way should it be construed as trying to change anybody eles mind about their own beliefs.

George Kopf
 
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Old 01-14-04, 04:24 PM
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You're starting to sound like me now!! But, for lighting it is handy. Even more so if you have to run 14-3. I'll only use 14 ga. on lighting circuts. Never on recepticles. So, if I'm only using 12-2 on recepticles then why should I use 15 amp breakers?
 
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Old 01-14-04, 04:37 PM
georgekopf
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Use the word 'crux' at least once today.

Now we come to the crux of the matter. The breaker not only protects the wires, it also protects the fixtures and appliances. That's why I use a 15 amp breaker on my circuits with 15 amp receptacles. Better safe than sorry.

I am only talking about bedroom/living room type branch circuits. Kitchens, utility rooms, shop rooms all have different needs and thus different electrical configurations.
 
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Old 01-14-04, 04:58 PM
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The thing I don't understand is why use 20 amp receptacles at all? The regular 15 amp receptacle has been the standard for many years in residential use. Find me one "typical" appliance that uses a 20 amp plug, aside from the odd air conditioner.


I will have to disagree that the breaker protects the appliances and fixtures. Most will be burned up well before a breaker trips, 15 or 20. The breaker protects the circuit, not an individual item on the circuit. Unless of course it is a dedicated circuit with the breaker specifically sized to protect the appliance.

I still don't get the "Better safe than sorry". How is using 12 wire, on a 15 amp breaker, with 15 amp receptacles safer???
{Petey sips his hot cocoa}
It is in NO WAY safer than the same circuit using 14 guage wire. The actual ampacity of 14 wire is 25 amps.
It is also no safer than a 20 amp circuit with 15 amp receptacles.
 
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Old 01-14-04, 05:11 PM
georgekopf
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What are we talking about?

For the bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms, foyers, hallways:

Don't use 20 amp receptacles, use 15 amp receptacles.

Don't use 20 amp breakers, use 15 amp breakers.

I know that using 12 guage is NOT any safer than using 14 guage. I just think it's easier!

I do think it is safer to have a 15 amp breaker (instead of a 20 amp breaker) on a branch circuit that has 15 amp receptacles that supply a bedroom, living room, dinning room, foyer or hallway.

George
 
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Old 01-14-04, 05:47 PM
hotarc
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Why use #14 wire?

Cheaper, a little easier to work with, and more wires will fit into a box.

For a DIYer doing one project the cost difference doesn't amount to much, but an electrician wiring 100 new homes stands to save quite a bit by using 14 gauge wires on 15 amp circuits. Most builders are just going to go with the lowest bidder so small things like that can make or break your bid.

I have to agree on the wire vs. breaker issue. If you have 12 gauge wires, put them on a 20 amp breaker. If you're working with 14, use a 15 amp breaker. And I don't think 15 amp breakers are necessarily any safer than 20's either. Like Speedy said, the breakers protect the wiring, not what's plugged into the circuit. If you wiring is correctly sized, it's a non-issue.
 
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Old 01-14-04, 07:18 PM
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FWIW when I wired my finished basement I used 12 gauge/20A for the receptacles and 14 ga/15A for the lighting, mainly because of easier wiring of switch boxes (and easier to meet box fill requirements with lots of 3 and 4 way switches).

I also agree with 15A receptacles for residential. A common misconception seems to be that a 15A receptacle cannot safely carry 20A of current. This is not true. What makes it a 15A receptacle is that it will only accept a 15A plug, whereas a 20A receptacle will accept a 15A or a 20A plug.

Like John said, 20A plugs on something you would use in your home are pretty rare.
 
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Old 01-15-04, 06:04 AM
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Like I said, I believe it's a personal preference. I never said it was a code violation of any sort. Maybe we should start a thread on non code violations practices or "tricks of the trade if you will" That drive you nuts!!
 
 

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