Separate Lighting and Receptacle Circuits

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jeff48356

Senior Member
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.
 

Dennis Alwon

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Location
Chapel Hill, NC
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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.
 

jeff48356

Senior Member
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.
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
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.
 

Coppersmith

Senior Member
Location
Tampa, FL, USA
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
I almost always run#12 to everything, however I would hate having to separate lighting and receptacle loads.

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.
 

JFletcher

Senior Member
Location
Williamsburg, VA
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.
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
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.
 

jeff48356

Senior Member
I almost always run#12 to everything, however I would hate having to separate lighting and receptacle loads.

I don't do that for lighting. #14 is much easier to work with, especially with complex multi-gang switch boxes, 3 and 4-way switches, etc. And lighting circuits tend to take up a significant amount of wire, so #14 would save money in materials. The third issue is that #12 would fill up switch boxes more quickly than #14, resulting in NEC box-fill issues. In other words, what you could do with #14 and stay within the box-fill limits, you may exceed them with #12 and need to redesign some of the circuits. And since nearly everything is LED nowadays, the lighting circuits would seldom draw more than 5A each, even if all lights on that circuit were turned on.
 

jwelectric

Senior Member
Location
North Carolina
Who are you? :D Disappear for years, you don't show up at the big meet in Raleigh.... Hope you are doing well.

That is what happens when you get a real job working for the government. Boss gets to choose which events I attend. When I was working for myself I went when I wanted too but alas when one has a boss things change. Only one year two months left and I will once again come and go as I please
 

Dennis Alwon

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Chapel Hill, NC
Occupation
Retired Electrical Contractor
For the big meet in Raleigh.. are you referring to IBMA? If so, I am attending that!! :)


No, I was talking about one of the largest conventions on electrical codes in the country. 700 of us whackos show up in April and talk about the electrical trade, codes, etc. It's put on by the NC board of electrical examiners. It is called NC institute

Jwelectric, as well as a few other Mike Holt members, have shown up. Even Mike Holt was there last April
 

Dennis Alwon

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Chapel Hill, NC
Occupation
Retired Electrical Contractor
That is what happens when you get a real job working for the government. Boss gets to choose which events I attend. When I was working for myself I went when I wanted too but alas when one has a boss things change. Only one year two months left and I will once again come and go as I please

We3ll, it is nice to have you back. :thumbsup:
 
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