How Many Outlets Can Be On One Circuit

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by River Rat, Aug 19, 2007.

  1. River Rat

    River Rat New Member

    Messages:
    21
    I am looking at remodeling my Basement and would like to know how many outlets I can put on one ( 1 ) circuit? Than I will be putting up lights and that would be on another circuit.

    What would be the best lighting to put in the Basement to get the best use out of it?
  2. Chris75

    Chris75 Electrician

    Messages:
    608
    Location:
    Litchfield, CT
    As many as you like, I try to keep a limit of around 300 or so...;)
  3. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    What are you going to use the basement for?

    There's no code-mandated rule about how many receptacles you can put on a circuit, but there is a practical limit of how many things you can plug in before the breaker trips.

    "Best lighting" for what? Storage? Workshop? Rec room, home theater?

    "Best" in terms of headroom clearance? Energy-efficiency? Natural color? Good-looking fixtures?
  4. tjbaudio

    tjbaudio Sound and Light Suppervisor for a School District

    Messages:
    162
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    According to my inspector there is a limit. It is related to anticipated load and usage.

    A kitchen counter needs 2 20Acircuts. A bathroom needs to be on its own 20A line. Lighting and bedrooms are some thing like 7 or 8 outlets max depending on 15 or 20 A breaker. I don't remember the exact number as I tend to run more circuits than needed. Many only have 4 outlets on. This is both because I believe in not pushing it and because this is a retrofit system I cant easily get from one wall to another in many spots.

    In my basement I have the lights on a 15 A line with florescent lights. I have 2 20A lines with a couple of outlets on each. The furnace and other utility stuff is on another line.

    What do you plan on doing in your basement? Just a family room? Then I would put lights on one line. An outlet every 6 ft and divide the total by 8, run that many 20 A circuits.
    Shop? Do the same but divide by 4. Thats just a ball park.

    Another option if the main panel is a long ways away or almost full is to run a larger 240V line and add a sub panel for the basement. Another tip is use the better outlets! I prefer the back wire where the side screw clamps the wire. The 39c outlets are JUNK!
  5. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    There are rules for kitchens and baths.

    I will wait for a professional electrician to help us out with any actual code specs for your basement.. But I suspect that from a practical standpoint, you would want to plan far FEWER on a single circuit than the code likely allows. If you put too many, you will have grief down the line as you start to overload that one circuit with lamps, computers, a portable heater or A/C, girlfriend's hair dryer, microwave oven, and a hundred other things which may end up in that basement.
  6. River Rat

    River Rat New Member

    Messages:
    21
    I am a firm believer in using Florescent Lights or energy effectuate lighting as much as possible where ever possible and then some. Yes I think GREEN save energy and lower that electric bill.

    What is the best lighting in a Basement that would be used as a family room?
    Right now it looks like the 70's and I want to update it for the 21st. Century.

    I am planning to put Plasterboard on the cycling along with the walls ether green back plain plasterboard, which is best? I have even thought of using James Hardie Backer board up 18 inches off the floor. Do you feel that a 1/2 inch is thick enough for the plaster board on the walls? What would you put on the cycling thickness.
  7. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    Cycling?

    No need to use wonderboard along the bottom. Look into densearmor plus, or XP board. The new damp-proof drywalls (one is paperless but you need to skim-coat it, the other is purple) are plenty moisture-resistant.

    I think 1/2" is fine in most of the country, but check with local codes - some places (like NYC for example) require 5/8 for fire resistance. I personally prefer 5/8 for everything, just because it lays very flat, I find 1/2 can get kinda wavy... but it pretty heavy.

    Less than 1/2" is pointless, too floppy for a good tape job.


    TJ, Jimbo - your kitchen requires a dedicated small-appliance circuit, but there's no limit to how many receptacles you put on that circuit. Think of plugmold: a 5' countertop would have 10 receptacles, all on the same circuit.

    http://www.wiremold.com/www/commerc...ct_id=41&product_family_id=15&sub_system_id=5
    http://www.tasklighting.com/ap/angle-strip.htm
  8. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,559
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Well now being all the pros have given an answer I shall tell you what the code says about a dwelling unit.

    Three watts per square ft. in the minimum amount of circuitry required. If you are using a 15 amp circuit then multiply 15 amps times 120 volts and this equals 1800 watts. Now divide 1800 watts by 3 watts per square foot and this equals 600 square feet.

    On this one 15 amp circuit that you are installing in these 600 square feet you can put as many receptacles and lighting outlets your little heart desires. I would suggest a receptacle in every stud bay then they would be plenty close together but the code only calls for one within 6 feet of a door and 12 feet on center there after and one on any wall that is 2 feet wide or wider.

    Any and all receptacles that are no higher than 5 feet 6 inches off the floor will fulfill the requirement of the 6, 12 foot rule.
  9. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,386
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    There very well may be a code limitation on the number of outlets on a circuit, but from a usage stand point, it boils down to wire size and amperage. Outlets that are not in use draw no amps, so in theory, you could have hundreds of outlets on a circuit as long as you did try to use them all at one time. I wired my home with #12 wire and 20 amp breakers with no thought on limiting the outlets, I put 'em where I knew I need them and then where I though I might want to have them in the future. I wired my shop with 220 with several outlets so I could move my tools into various configurations. I can only use 2 outlets at once, but I might have 3 or 4 tools plugged in to the circuit. I just don't run the table saw, band saw, jointer, and planer all at the same time.
  10. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    Ouch! :)

    You weren't around...
  11. Chris75

    Chris75 Electrician

    Messages:
    608
    Location:
    Litchfield, CT
    Untrue.

    This is a design choice, not code, IMO way over kill... and a waste of money.
  12. tjbaudio

    tjbaudio Sound and Light Suppervisor for a School District

    Messages:
    162
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    It is what the inspecer told me and I have to play by his rules. All in all I like having more circuts around. A family room can take on many uses. Examples:
    Family reunion, every one brings a nesco/roaster, thats 10 to 15 A EACH.

    Company come comes over and it is a cold basement. So put in a space heater. This is in addition to the small fridge and dehumidifier you already have down there. Then they plug in a hair drier. None of that is counting the TV, computer, and table lamps down there.

    Whats the added cost? $5 for a breaker and another $5 to 10 for wire? Not having to worry about triped brakers, priceless! Now if your a long way or your main box is full then the added panel is a little more expensive.
  13. Chris75

    Chris75 Electrician

    Messages:
    608
    Location:
    Litchfield, CT

    Like I said, a design issue... ;)
  14. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,559
    Location:
    North Carolina
    If I was going to have all that going on everyday I would just move.

    Edit to ask;

    How many times in a year do most of you have to reset a breaker?
  15. Basement_Lurker

    Basement_Lurker One who lurks

    Messages:
    668
    Location:
    Victoria, BC


    Wow...no code restriction on how many receptacles allowed per circuit down there in 'merica! We are restricted to a max of 12 recepticals per circuit and the circuit is derated to 80% ampacity. But then again, BC code is so much different from the rest of the country, and certainly very different from the states. I find the differences interesting :)
  16. tjbaudio

    tjbaudio Sound and Light Suppervisor for a School District

    Messages:
    162
    Location:
    Wisconsin
  17. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

  18. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,559
    Location:
    North Carolina
    220.12 Lighting Load for Specified Occupancies.
    A unit load of not less than that specified in Table 220.12 for occupancies specified therein shall constitute the minimum lighting load.

    [​IMG]


    220.14(J) Dwelling Occupancies. In one-family, two-family, and multifamily dwellings and in guest rooms or guest suites of hotels and motels, the outlets specified in (J)(1), (J)(2), and (J)(3) are included in the general lighting load calculations of 220.12. No additional load calculations shall be required for such outlets.
    (1) All general-use receptacle outlets of 20-ampere rating or less, including receptacles connected to the circuits in 210.11(C)(3)
    (2) The receptacle outlets specified in 210.52(E) and (G)
    (3) The lighting outlets specified in 210.70(A) and (B)

    As outlined above the receptacles can be added to the 3 watts per square foot and there is no requirement to use the 180 volt ampere rule of 220.14(I)

    220.14(I) Receptacle Outlets. Except as covered in 220.14(J) and (K), receptacle outlets shall be calculated at not less than 180 volt-amperes for each single or for each multiple receptacle on one yoke. A single piece of equipment consisting of a multiple receptacle comprised of four or more receptacles shall be calculated at not less than 90 volt-amperes per receptacle. This provision shall not be applicable to the receptacle outlets specified in 210.11(C)(1) and (C)(2).

    This rule is for commercial and industrial applications only.
  19. Speedy Petey

    Speedy Petey Licensed Electrical Contractor

    Messages:
    996
    Location:
    NY State, USA
    The answer is NOT ten.

    OK, fine. That is a GUIDELINE based on the code, not the code itself. They also leave out the tiny detail that that "180va" DOES NOT apply to residential installations. If your inspector enforces that residentially it is either a local amendment or he is enforcing his own personal rules. The latter being extremely unethical.

    If I may suggest, you should refrain from giving code quotes that are specifically local to you. Especially when you begin with "My inspector tells me....".
    That is not enough experience/education to be giving electrical advice on a message board such as this.
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