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Lights & outlets in addition, how many on 20 amp breaker?

Adding outlets into an addition, how many outlets and lights can I put on a 20 amp breaker?

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  • hinkled Mar 11, 2009

    Thanks for the information, very helpfull

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I would say something a little different than SmithBrother. You said you are putting on an addition and you asked how many outlets can you put on a 20 amp breaker. Because of the date on your comment, it is probably a little late to be replying but whaat the heck ... here goes.

I think there is a rule of thumb that you can put about 12 "holes" in a 15 or 20 amp circuit. A "hole" is a hole in the wall where a box would be put for a outlet or a light or a switch. I presume you know to use #12 wire on a 20 amp circuit and while you may use #14 on a 15 amp circuit, I prefer to shy away from #14 wire even though I MAY protect a given circuit with a 15 amp breaker. You can over protect but not under protect. 30 amp is #10 and so forth.

There are lots of other considerations ... too many to do justice in this short comment. However, I will hit a few hi lites. As SmithBrother says, a micro wave should have its own circuit as should a AC or a frig - I think that may go without sayng. I think you are speaking more general use. I believe the electric code says every wall must have a plug in it and you can go no more than 6 feet to get to a plug. So, if you have a 12 foot wall, one outlet in the middle will meet the requirement. There is nothting preventing you from puttine two outlets in that same wall. From my perspective, I want to have lots of outlets and I want them to be convenient for me to use. (There are more than 200 outlets in my home) Another thing, you cant put a outlete over a electric baseboard heater. You can put one at each end of such a heater but not where a lamp cord would lay in top of the hot heater surface.

Regarding the 12 hole rule ... if you have two switches that control the same light, you only count those two switches as one hole even though, obviously, there are two holes in the wall for the two switches. Count a second hole for the light. Conversely, if there is a light and a fan, you should count that one hole in the ceiling as two.

Posted on Oct 07, 2009

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It depends upon the wattage of the items that you intend to place on them (load). If you intend to hook up a microwave, for example, the answer is one outlet only and no lamps.      If you were to place light fixtures that each had one 100 watt bulb then you could hook up a maxium of 20 lights as each would draw one amp,before the breaker rating would be exceeded.     If you were to allow 15 amps on each outlet as is common practice and figuring that each would only have items plugged into them that drew half that amount then you could safely hook up seven outlets without exceeding the breaker rating.

Posted on Mar 11, 2009

  • Thomas F. Schneider Mar 11, 2009

    You are welcome Thank you for the rating. 

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