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Thread: Separate Lighting and Receptacle Circuits

  1. #1
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    Separate Lighting and Receptacle Circuits

    I have an idea for a proposal for a change to the next NEC cycle, and I was wondering what you all think about it: I wish the NEC would require all lighting circuits to be used for lights and smoke alarms only (allowing either #14 or #12 wire), then also require separate circuits to power the receptacle outlets with #12 wire only, for 20A capacity. In fact, this is already they way it is in the state of Alabama, but I think it should be part of the NEC, which would apply anywhere. This is also how I always wire new houses, regardless, even in Tennessee where I live. I use #14 for lighting, and #12 for wall receptacles.

  2. #2
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    Never going to happen. Although the code isn't supposed to be a design manual it does often step over the line into this area, however, you would have to substantiate how using 14 awg on general receptacles is a safety issue. Quite frankly, it is not a safety issue.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis Alwon View Post
    Never going to happen. Although the code isn't supposed to be a design manual it does often step over the line into this area, however, you would have to substantiate how using 14 awg on general receptacles is a safety issue. Quite frankly, it is not a safety issue.
    Well, using #14 on wall receptacles limits the capacity of the circuit to 15 amps, rather than 20, so it is more likely that breakers will trip if high-current loads are plugged into them (electric heaters, vacuum cleaners, window air conditioners, etc). And, of course, overloads are always a safety issue, and the Code has taken other measures to reduce tripped breakers in recent past. For example, they now require the bathroom to be on a separate 20A circuit. And now they are requiring the same for the garage receptacles.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeff48356 View Post
    Well, using #14 on wall receptacles limits the capacity of the circuit to 15 amps, rather than 20, so it is more likely that breakers will trip if high-current loads are plugged into them (electric heaters, vacuum cleaners, window air conditioners, etc). And, of course, overloads are always a safety issue, and the Code has taken other measures to reduce tripped breakers in recent past. For example, they now require the bathroom to be on a separate 20A circuit. And now they are requiring the same for the garage receptacles.
    Plug two 1500 watt heaters into a 20 amp circuit and you still overload it- where do you draw the line besides running an individual circuit to every receptacle outlet?

    NEC has already recognized that we tend to have heavier loads in the kitchen laundry and bath areas and has mandated 20 amp receptacle circuits there - even that is still pushing its own rule IMO in 90.1 of not being a design specification or instruction manual though. I think it is a good idea, especially in those areas to run 20 amp circuits, and I also myself run 20 amp ciruits to nearly all 120 volt receptacle outlets as a general rule - but that is by my decision.

  5. #5
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    Make the proposal....you have a few days to do so.
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    Would this mean they would delete 210.70(A)(1) exception
    Mike Whitt
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  7. #7
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    I almost always run#12 to everything, however I would hate having to separate lighting and receptacle loads.

    Quote Originally Posted by jeff48356 View Post
    Well, using #14 on wall receptacles limits the capacity of the circuit to 15 amps, rather than 20, so it is more likely that breakers will trip if high-current loads are plugged into them (electric heaters, vacuum cleaners, window air conditioners, etc).


    You could make each room a separate circuit to solve this issue. Bedrooms are generally lightly loaded.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by kwired View Post
    Plug two 1500 watt heaters into a 20 amp circuit and you still overload it- where do you draw the line besides running an individual circuit to every receptacle outlet?

    NEC has already recognized that we tend to have heavier loads in the kitchen laundry and bath areas and has mandated 20 amp receptacle circuits there - even that is still pushing its own rule IMO in 90.1 of not being a design specification or instruction manual though. I think it is a good idea, especially in those areas to run 20 amp circuits, and I also myself run 20 amp ciruits to nearly all 120 volt receptacle outlets as a general rule - but that is by my decision.
    If you have both 600 and 900W switches on on both heaters. Older homes with half the house on one 15A circuit, you'd be lucky to run one 1500W heater @ 900W and keep the lights on.
    Electricians do it until it Hertz!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwelectric View Post
    Would this mean they would delete 210.70(A)(1) exception


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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by JFletcher View Post
    If you have both 600 and 900W switches on on both heaters. Older homes with half the house on one 15A circuit, you'd be lucky to run one 1500W heater @ 900W and keep the lights on.
    True, but OP is wanting to see 20 amp circuits for receptacles and 15 for lights, so the existing older house scenario isn't really what we are talking about here.

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