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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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Main fuse in house went now machine will not start light under start button keeps flashing


The washer tripped the breaker once and OR after the breaker was reset it ran additional loads with no problem then it tripped the breaker again.

Intermittent problems are always difficult to diagnose because the problem usually doesn't occur when you're making the checks.

If the washer ran additional loads the problem will not be an electrical short with one of the washer parts. If the lid switch had a short it wouldn't run the additional loads.

You don't say if the additional loads used the same cycle as previously. A timer can have an internal short that might trip the breaker in heavy duty cycle but not the permanent press cycle.

If you have access to a clamp on amp meter, see the image below, then you can check the amp draw of the washer. The washer normally will draw about 10-15 amps at start up and about 5-8 amps while running. The house breaker for you washer should be rated at 20 amps.

If the washer is running and drawing less than 20 amps and the breaker trips then if can be a weak house breaker.

Mid cycle the washer is most likely draining or spinning and if the bearing or pump locks up then the washer may draw additional amps to try to start and trip the breaker.

The key to this problem is what the amp draw of the washer is when the house breaker trips.

To narrow this problem down, there are three places that could be causing the ( outlet) GFCI to trip, a malfunction in the washing machine, a problem with the downstream wiring (aka load side of the GFCI-other items connected on same circuit), or the GFCI outlet itself. If there isn't anything downstream, then plugging the washing machine into another GFCI outlet, or simply swapping out the outlet for a known good GFCI outlet, will identify if the outlet itself is faulty.
If the outlet trips when the washing machine isn't running and isn't even plugged in, then there's a fault in the wiring on the load side of the GFCI outlet.
If the issue is neither of the above, then running the washing machine and monitoring to see which step is occurring when the trip happens will isolate what part of the washing machine may be leaking current to a ground. It could be a certain water level, a motor being engaged, a transition step in the controller, etc
Beware some techs believe that most Washing machines or any other motor should not be on a GFCI! Should be a dedicated single receptacle. If there are other outlets on the washer GFCI, replace that GFCI with a single receptacle and put the GFCI on the next jump in order to protect other outlets.

Another item to check is ur lid switch which may have gotten moister inside and created a short_ or broken open and the rubber seal dried out over time, and the switch assembly will be exposed. water can splash onto the assembly, somehow causing the GFCI to trip. In any event, if you are having trouble with your washing machine stopping mid-cycle for any reason, test and replacing the lid switchis probably a worthwhile idea, as it is cheap and easy to replace.
By the way my advice is free cuz God is good!






May 17, 2015 | Washing Machines

1 Answer

When put on a wash it trips the electric


The washer tripped the breaker once and OR after the breaker was reset it ran additional loads with no problem then it tripped the breaker again.

Intermittent problems are always difficult to diagnose because the problem usually doesn't occur when you're making the checks.

If the washer ran additional loads the problem will not be an electrical short with one of the washer parts. If the lid switch had a short it wouldn't run the additional loads.

You don't say if the additional loads used the same cycle as previously. A timer can have an internal short that might trip the breaker in heavy duty cycle but not the permanent press cycle.

If you have access to a clamp on amp meter, see the image below, then you can check the amp draw of the washer. The washer normally will draw about 10-15 amps at start up and about 5-8 amps while running. The house breaker for you washer should be rated at 20 amps.

If the washer is running and drawing less than 20 amps and the breaker trips then if can be a weak house breaker.

Mid cycle the washer is most likely draining or spinning and if the bearing or pump locks up then the washer may draw additional amps to try to start and trip the breaker.

The key to this problem is what the amp draw of the washer is when the house breaker trips.

To narrow this problem down, there are three places that could be causing the ( outlet) GFCI to trip, a malfunction in the washing machine, a problem with the downstream wiring (aka load side of the GFCI-other items connected on same circuit), or the GFCI outlet itself. If there isn't anything downstream, then plugging the washing machine into another GFCI outlet, or simply swapping out the outlet for a known good GFCI outlet, will identify if the outlet itself is faulty.
If the outlet trips when the washing machine isn't running and isn't even plugged in, then there's a fault in the wiring on the load side of the GFCI outlet.
If the issue is neither of the above, then running the washing machine and monitoring to see which step is occurring when the trip happens will isolate what part of the washing machine may be leaking current to a ground. It could be a certain water level, a motor being engaged, a transition step in the controller, etc
Beware some techs believe that most Washing machines or any other motor should not be on a GFCI! Should be a dedicated single receptacle. If there are other outlets on the washer GFCI, replace that GFCI with a single receptacle and put the GFCI on the next jump in order to protect other outlets.

Another item to check is ur lid switch which may have gotten moister inside and created a short_ or broken open and the rubber seal dried out over time, and the switch assembly will be exposed. water can splash onto the assembly, somehow causing the GFCI to trip. In any event, if you are having trouble with your washing machine stopping mid-cycle for any reason, test and replacing the lid switchis probably a worthwhile idea, as it is cheap and easy to replace.
By the way my advice is free cuz God is good!





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May 10, 2015 | Miele Washing Machines

1 Answer

No lights upstaires circuit breaker keeps tripping


Jan 2013
1) Move wire to another same-size circuit breaker to eliminate bad circuit breaker as suspect.
Do NOT increase size of breaker or it will cause fire.
http://waterheatertimer.org/How-to-replace-circuit-breaker.html
http://waterheatertimer.org/Troubleshoot-household-electricity.html

2) Put hand on each appliance and outlet to see which ones are warm. Outlet should never be warm or hot. Replace outlet. Inspect wires for loose and burned connections.

3) If the breaker is good, then add up total watts being used by checking watt rating on each device. 100 watt light bulb is 100 watts. Big screen TV has a label that shows 300 to 500 watts. Computer has label. Space heater has label showing 1500 watts. Iron has a watt rating label. Take total watts and divide by 110Volts and this will give amp load. Total watts used = 2000 and then divide 2000 by 110 volts = 18.8 amps
Compare amp load with circuit breaker.
20 amp circuit breaker has 80% safe maximum, or 16 amps.
If amp load is 18.8 amps, then 20 amp breaker is starting to get hot, and weak breaker will start tripping.
If amp load is 18.8 amps, and breaker is 15 amps, then you are overloaded and breaker is feeling the heat, and tripping because of heat.
Solution is to reduce amp load.

4) If you have short circuit, that can also trip breaker.
Unplug everything and then plug things back in slowly to see which plug or appliance is causing the problem.

Jan 18, 2013 | Electrical Supplies

1 Answer

How many 15 amp receptacle oulets on a 20 amp CAFIC branch circuit?


The National Electric Code (NEC) does not directly state the number of outlets per general purpose circuit for a residence. They only state that "x" amount of sq. ft. must have "y" amount of circuits and that they be evenly distributed. The number of outlets is then limited by physical outlet spacing rules.

However, a rule of thumb is the points system. A 20 amp circuit is 20 points. A regular duplex receptacle is 2 points and a light is 1 point. You can have any combination of receptacles and lights that add up to 20 points. For example, 10 duplex receptacles x 2 points = 20 points. Or, (8 duplex receptacles x 2 points = 16) + (4 lights x 1 point) = 20 total.

The concept is the same for a 15 amp circuit except the total points will then be 15.

So, the answer is about 10 receptacle outlets per 20 amp circuit. In a pinch, you can stretch that to 12 or so and still be OK.

Nov 09, 2010 | Your One Source Square D #QO120CAFIC QO20A...

1 Answer

The socket next to my washer was used to put in an extension cord to fix my deck with a power saw. The socket is still out, but the breaker works for then lights there.


Usually the washer circuit is a seperate 20A circuit. The lights would be on a different circuit usually 15A. Check your panel and see if there is a 20 breaker tripped. Hopefully your panel is labeled (or it should be) Are you saying this tripped while using the extension cord? Another possibility is that it is controlled by a GFCI outlet. You can connect additional receptacles to a GFCI outlet to protect them. Check to see if you have a GFCI receptacle tripped (in garage, bathrrom etc)

Sep 11, 2010 | Gb Electrical 1 30 Amp Ground Fault...

2 Answers

How many outlets will this carry?


While there is a practical limit for the number of outlets on a 15 or 20 amp general purpose lighting circuit in a _residence_, the National Electric Code (NEC) does not impose a # of outlets per circuit limit (residential ONLY).
However, some electrician's design general purpose lighting circuits in a residence using a point system. An outlet is 2 points and a light is 1 point. So, for a twenty amp circuit, (10 outlets x 2 points) = 20. Or, (5 outlets x 2 points) + (10 lights x 1 point) = 10 + 10 = 20. Or (8 outlets x 2 points) + (4 lights x 1 point) = 16 + 4 = 20. However you want to mix it up.

Now, if this is for a Commercial building, the the NEC allows no more than 180 VA (Volt Amps) per outlet. 180 VA / 120 Volts = 1.5 Amps.
20 amps / 1.5 Amps = 13.3 outlets. Drop the .3 and one determines that 13 outlets are allowed on a Commercial 20 amp circuit.

Also, if the 20 amp circuit is considered a continuous circuit (ON for more than 3 hours a day), then it can only be loaded to 80%. 80% of 20 amps = 16 amps.

Aug 07, 2010 | General Electric 20 Amp, 1 Pole Thick Type...

1 Answer

Adding electric to newly added work shop. We want 6 outlets, two hanging 4foot florecent light fixtures with two switches (one at each entrance)what size breaker do I need?


if you are to do it right i would put the lights and receptacles on seperate 20 amp breakers and use #12awg wire it really depends on how much load you are to put on the receptacles and wether or not they will all be used at the same time. the lights will not draw much power at all but is always a good idea to seperate lighting loads from receptacles

Oct 09, 2009 | Fahrenheat Electric Convector Baseboard...

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