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How Many Receptacle Outlets Are Allowed Per Circuit


By Dave Rongey - Summary:

How to Know the Number of Outlets to Wire on a Circuit: Identify the Area where the Outlets will be Installed, Bedroom Outlet Circuits, Kitchen Outlets and Small Appliance Circuits, Electrical Codes and Outlet Circuits.


Guide to Wiring Outlet Circuits

Electrical Question: How many receptacles can you wire onto a 20amp circuit breaker?

This electrical wiring question came from:
David, a Handyman from Millmont, Pennsylvania.
See more about Home Wiring for Pennsylvania

Dave the Electrician’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical wiring question David.

The Number of Electric Outlets on a Circuit

Application: Wiring Receptacle Outlets.
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools and a Voltage Tester.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience, ability to work with tools and the number of outlets that will be replaced.
Precaution: Identify the outlet circuit, turn it OFF and Tag it with a Note before working with the wiring.
Notice: Installing additional outlet wiring should be done with a permit and be inspected.

Planning Electrical Wiring for Outlet Circuits

  • Identify the Area where the Outlets will be Installed
    • The answer to this question of how many receptacle outlets can be wired to one circuit will be relevant to the location of the receptacle circuit and what the outlets will be used for, or the designated use for the circuit as it pertains to the load that will be placed on the circuit.
    • This will include identifying specific equipment or devices that will be connected to the circuit.
    • As the definition of the circuit is identified then we will need to see if there are specific codes that must be followed in order to be code compliant.
  • Electrical Codes and Outlet Circuits
    • The code is very clear about certain circuits that are installed in some locations of the home. Even more than this, the actual type of circuit may be addressed as well, such is the case for bedroom outlet receptacles.
  • Bedroom Outlet Circuits
    • Bedroom outlet circuits must be protected by an AFCI circuit breaker, or an AFCI receptacle outlet must be installed in the first position of all the other receptacle outlets.
    • For bedroom areas it is common to have ten to twelve outlets on one circuit, which may be 15 amp or 20 amp.
    • Keeping in mind the loads that are placed on some bedroom circuits by a busy family, it may be best to have two bedrooms on one twenty amp AFCI circuit, if the exact intended load will allow.
  • Kitchen Outlets and Small Appliance Circuits
    • The kitchen is another example where specific circuits must be installed and loaded according to the national electrical code.
    • Kitchen counter top receptacle outlets used for small appliances is another example.
    • Small appliance kitchen circuit must be twenty amp with GFCI protection, and a minimum of two of these circuits are required.
  • The Size of the Home
    • The actual number of circuits will depend on the size of the home.
    • In larger homes, it is very common to have four or more twenty amp circuits that are serving counter top receptacles.

Electrical Tip when Planning Electrical Wiring for Outlet Circuits

  • Identify the intended use for the circuit.
  • Identify the location of the circuit.
  • Consult the National Electrical Code for specifics based on the identified circuit.
  • Consult your local building authority to see if there are any additional requirements.

More about Wiring for Outlet Circuits

Electrical Outlet Wiring
outlet-wiring

  • Wiring Electrical Outlets for the Home

    • Home electrical wiring includes 110 volt outlets and 220 volt outlets and receptacles which are common place in every home. See how wiring electrical outlets for the home are done.

Electrical Circuit Breakers
2-pole-circuit-breaker

  • Home Electrical Circuit Breakers

  • A guide to home electrical circuit breakers and how they work to protect your electrical wiring. When properly installed, your home electrical wiring is protected by a circuit protection device.

You identified your project to be about Outlet Wiring,
so you might find this information useful:

How to Install Electrical Outlets
Outlet Wiring

  • Wiring Electrical Outlets

  • Fully Explained Photos and Wiring Diagrams for Wiring Electrical Outlets with Code Requirements for most new or remodel projects.



Learn How to Wire it Right with my
Complete Guide to Home Electrical Wiring
Perfect for Homeowners, Students,
Handyman, Handywomen, and Electricians
Includes:
Wiring GFCI Outlets
Wiring Home Electrical Circuits
120 Volt and 240 Volt Outlet Circuits
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Electric Range
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Dryer Cord and Dryer Outlet
Troubleshooting and Repair Electrical Wiring
Wiring Methods for Upgrading Electrical Wiring
Electrical Codes for Home Electrical Wiring
....and much more.

» Click here to learn more about Home Electrical Wiring «
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Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all projects.
« Replacement Ceiling Fan Wiring Configurations Why Outlet Adapters are Not Safe and What the Alternatives Are »

FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

4 Responses to “How Many Receptacle Outlets Are Allowed Per Circuit”
  1. Robert says:

    Can you wire two outlets, a vent fan, a vanity light, and a recessed light for a bathroom all on one GFCI 20 amp breaker?

    • Dave Rongey says:

      Hi Robert,
      Although a 20 amp circuit should handle all of those devices, it is best to have the GFCI protected outlets on a separate circuit. However if the vent fan or light are located over the tub or shower then they must be GFCI protected as well. The concern is that the vanity light should not go off if the GFCI circuit is tripped off because someone will be left in a dark bathroom. I like to wire the circuit from a regular breaker to the first outlet location which would be a GFCI, and configure the wiring connections to provide GFCI protection as required, which is a matter of branching out to the devices from either the LINE or LOAD side of the GFCI outlet.
      I hope that helps,
      Dave

  2. Jason says:

    You need to complete an electrical layout of a new single family residence. You plan to locate 5 separtate duplex receptacles on a branch circuit that feeds two walls of a large living room area. The circuit will be fed by a single AFCI-type 20A circuit breaker. Is it allowable to install 15A rated receptacles in all five locations on that circuit?

    • Dave Rongey says:

      Hi Jason,
      Yes – with the AFCI circuit that you are referring to 15 amp receptacles may be installed on a 20 amp circuit, however 20 amp receptacles may not be installed on a 15 amp AFCI circuit.
      Dave


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