small appliance circuits

Old 07-11-04, 08:52 PM
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small appliance circuits

i have a question about the small appliance circuits for a kitchen. i would like to know if i am understanding this the right way, please let me know if this is correct... a kitchen requires two 20A small-appliance circuits for outlets at the counter. the way that i understood it was that i could use a 20A double-pole breaker and run 12/3 with ground cable (black, red, white, and bare copper) to each outlet. the first outlet would be fed with black, the second with red, the third with black.... alternating every other outlet which would qualify as two small-appliance circuits. i asked the building inspector about this and he said i need two separate circuits each with their own breaker. am i way off on this?? thanks for any help!
Old 07-11-04, 09:39 PM
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The multiwire circuit you describe does indeed meet the requirements for the two small-appliance circuits. However, it makes it difficult and/or expensive to provide GFCI protection, since it is impossible to use the downstream protection of a GFCI receptacle when the downstream neutral is shared. So you're forced to buy an expensive 20-amp double-pole GFCI breaker, or use a GFCI receptacle in every outlet. One compromise that is available is to use a regular double-pole breaker, run 12/3 from the panel to the first box, and split off the 12/3 into two 12/2 runs at the first box. But what's the point? It is probably simpler, cheaper, and more straightforward just to run two 12/2 cables from separate breakers. In many lengths, 12/3 is as much or more than twice the cost of 12/2 anyway. And a double-pole 20-amp breaker is probably more than twice the cost of a single-pole. Why complicate your life? The principal advantage of the multiwire circuit is a slight reduction in voltage drop, but that's not significant unless your kitchen is about a block away from your panel.

Your inspector is mixing a bit of code with a bit of recommendation. Perhaps he knows he's doing that, and just looking out for you, or perhaps he's so used to seeing it one way, he's forgotten what the code actually says.
Old 07-12-04, 03:26 PM
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thanks for the help. since i already have it roughed in with a double-pole breaker and 12/3 cable to each outlet i would like to make this fix easy. from what you said i can use a double-pole breaker as long as all the outlets are GFCI? for me that might be the best way to go, there are only four outlets on the circuit (it is a small galley kitchen with less than 8' of counter top).
Old 07-12-04, 04:06 PM
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To use your existing wiring you can use either a double pole 20 amp GFCI breaker or you can use four GFCI receptacle outlets.

If you use the GFCI receptacle outlets, make sure that you only attach to the line side at each receptacle.

Regardless of which option you choose, make sure that your neutral connections are pigtailed. They may not feed through the receptacle outlet at the device.

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