How many outlets can be in a breaker circuit ?

Thread Starter

Externet

Joined Nov 29, 2005
2,241
Hello.
For USA residential wiring code; how many 120VAC 15A outlets can be (paralleled) chain wired for a single 15A breaker circuit using AWG14 ?
Example... An outlet in the living, another in the dining, another in the kitchen; how many more are allowed for a single 15 A breaker circuit ?
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
31,076
As many as you want. Rule of thumb is 8 for 15A breaker.
The breaker will take care of overloading. You want to keep the load under 10A to avoid nuisance tripping.
 

WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
30,293
Hello.
For USA residential wiring code; how many 120VAC 15A outlets can be (paralleled) chain wired for a single 15A breaker circuit using AWG14 ?
Example... An outlet in the living, another in the dining, another in the kitchen; how many more are allowed for a single 15 A breaker circuit ?
I think a common rule of thumb is 10 outlets on a 15 A circuit, but I don't believe their is an actual limitation at the NEC level for dwellings. May be different at the state or local level.

But I believe there is a requirement that the loads be divided proportionately amongst all the circuits (at least in the initial design), so that would typically argue for fewer outlets in places, like the kitchen, that tend to be dominated by higher-power appliances, and more of them, than places like bedrooms. I can only imagine that there's a lot of wiggle room in what is and what is not acceptable.
 

LowQCab

Joined Nov 6, 2012
4,290
Dedicated-Circuits, such as those for Bathrooms, Kitchens, and Laundry-Rooms,
have a definite set of rules that must be followed for each location.

"Convenience-Outlets" such as those for Bed-Rooms, Living-Rooms, etc.,
may have up to six-15-Amp-Outlets on a single 15-Amp-Circuit-Breaker,
but I never connected more than 4 on a Single-Breaker,
at least that's the way we rolled back in the day, in my very few years of Residential-Work.
( Commercial-Work is a completely different world all together )
More than ~4-"Convenience-Outlets" on a single Breaker is just asking for "Nuisance-Tripping".

Using the "Push-In" holes on the back of cheap 15-Amp-Outlets is just asking for a trouble-shooting-nightmare.


The Plans for a New-House may stipulate higher-standards that are above and beyond the NEC-Rules.

The NEC "may" let You get-away-with a lot of dumb ideas, that doesn't mean You should do them.

The NEC's main theme is mitigating Insurance-claims for Fire-Damage,
not necessarily insuring a top-quality-installation.
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Last edited:

BobTPH

Joined Jun 5, 2013
9,264
Google AI answer:
A standard 15-amp circuit can have up to eight outlets. However, the National Electrical Code (NEC) recommends 12 outlets, and most electricians recommend eight. There are no national building code requirements for the maximum number of outlets per circuit, so you should check your local codes
 

Jon Chandler

Joined Jun 12, 2008
1,095
"A standard 15-amp circuit can have up to eight outlets. However, the National Electrical Code (NEC) recommends 12 outlets, and most electricians recommend eight."

That clears things right up
 

Thread Starter

Externet

Joined Nov 29, 2005
2,241
So there is 'brands' of A.I. ? Google, and Bing, and Chevrolet, and yahoo and whatever ? And the mental laziness will drive our dark future to obey A.I. zombifying humanity... :mad:
 

Jon Chandler

Joined Jun 12, 2008
1,095
Artificial intelligence will create real stupidity.

Why learn about Ohm's Law or how to calculate LED resistors* when I can just use A.I.? Why do I have to understand anything when I can just ask A.I. and have an answer in seconds?


* Understanding why LED series resistors are needed and calculating results appears to be beyond many in this forum.
 

Thread Starter

Externet

Joined Nov 29, 2005
2,241
Laws are made to be obeyed, not interpreted; but I wish there was a reasoning shown behind the NEC rules. Sometimes things do not make sense. Perhaps I will have to succumb to A.I. to help find the details among the rules, and where is each hidden...
 

WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
30,293
Laws are made to be obeyed, not interpreted; but I wish there was a reasoning shown behind the NEC rules. Sometimes things do not make sense. Perhaps I will have to succumb to A.I. to help find the details among the rules, and where is each hidden...
Rules like this represent compromises. Since each outlet is rated for 15 A, you could argue that there should only be one outlet on a circuit protected by a 15 A breaker -- and that means that the top outlet and the bottom outlet should be on different branches -- since, otherwise, you could plug in two things that each consumed 10 A (and were therefore just fine to use) but that would overload the circuit. But while that might be the ideal approach on paper, it's completely impractical and uneconomical. So you have to gather data about how circuits are used in the real world and, from that, develop use models that guide how many outlets you can have on a circuit before the likelihood of normal use causing an overload rises above some arbitrarily-determined threshold. Since most people go years between occurrences of brakers tripping, that threshold is apparently pretty low. Part and parcel with this is not only how many outlets are on a circuit, but how those outlets are distributed amongst the dwelling.
 

WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
30,293
And those rules-of-thumb are subject to change. Not all that long ago, the number of appliances and items in a house drawing power at any one time was very limited. The number of items that were plugged in and drawing power more or less continuously could probably be counted on one hand. Now there are dozens of these background loads in most houses and the number of transitory loads that are in use at the same time has gone up considerably, as well. Then there's also changes in how much power is consumed by the "average" device today relative to a few decades ago. But changes to these kinds of rules (more like best practices) are slow and will come about as complaints about nuisance trips rise above a certain level, probably seen mostly by either owners of new homes that complain to the builder, or complaints seen by electricians servicing older homes where it has become enough of a problem for the homeowner to want it mitigated. Those then have to become sufficiently widespread that they come into the awareness of the industry as a whole, which will then slowly adopt new recommendations, probably locally and informally at first.
 

LowQCab

Joined Nov 6, 2012
4,290
I've done a ton of Residential-Panel-Upgrades because of this exact subject,
sometimes adding ~8 to ~10 new Breakers / Circuits throughout the house.
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WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
30,293
I've sometimes thought about how I would like to wire a new house if ever I got the chance. One thought that has come to mind is designating one outlet per circuit as a "high load" outlet. Nothing special about it other than there is exactly one per circuit and that outlet is marked somehow, perhaps using a black outlet instead of white outlet. Then planning the circuit layouts so that there is at least one high load outlet in each room and ideally two, number of circuits permitting. This would likely cause me to spend extra money in wiring the house, but that should be very marginal (especially compared to the cost of running another circuit into a room at a later time). This would allow me to easily avoid most nuisance trips by simply adopting the policy of only plugging high-load items into high-load outlets, making it highly unlikely that the combined loads on the rest of the circuit would be likely to bring the total to the tripping point.

What motivated me to think about this was (on more than one occasion) having to figure out, by trial and error, which two outlets in the same room were on different breakers because I needed or wanted to run two high power things at the same time, such as two space heaters. Of course, the other thing that I would do as part of a new build would be to label every switch and outlet with the breaker number that it is on.
 

LowQCab

Joined Nov 6, 2012
4,290
While we're swapping interesting stories ............

I used to build and maintain a string of Discos down in Miami,
( 2-Flanigans-Speakeasy ( big, expensive, custom-designed, multi-level, "Dance-Clubs" ),
and 17-Big-Daddy's-Lounges ( much smaller "neighborhood" Bars with a dance-floor ),
and it was my standard practice to specify to the Electrician during a remodel
to run 4, ( or sometimes more ), 20-Amp-Circuits,
( dedicated, no Neutral sharing, all on the same Phase ),
to underneath the DJ-Booth.
These would terminate into an oversized metal "Quad-Box" with two 20-Amp-Duplex-Outlets that had
their side-jumpers removed to create 4 completely dedicated and separate Outlets.
This practice completely eliminated a variety of well known problems.

1,000-Watt Amplifiers don't like sharing a Circuit with anybody else,
especially Custom-Lighting-Controllers.
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