20 amp with 15 amp outlets

Hey, i have a question for all you pros. If you have the bathroom on a 20amp circuit breaker with 12-2 wire, does the outlets have to be 20 amp outlets or is it ok to use 15 amp outlets? I understand the 20 amp outlet has a horizontal added plug for 20 amp tools. Is it code or what?
Andy Bishop


The National Electrical Code, in article 210.21 (B) 1, 2, and 3, describes the requirements of single and multiple receptacles on a circuit.

The use of multiple 15 amp receptacles on a 20 amp circuit is permitted. A duplex receptacle is considered as multiple receptacles and is therefore permissible to use as the single, or one of several, multiple type receptacles on the circuit.

Part of the UL listing for the 15 amp receptacles is that they are capable of feeding through the 20 amp circuit, the primary difference between 15 and 20 amp receptacles being the faceplate configuration.

Receptacles rated higher than the circuit rating may not be used, so 20 amp receptacles are not permitted on a 15 amp circuit.

One 15 Amp receptacle on a 20 Amp circuit is a no-no.

Thanks Dave, that helps. What about this ONE thing. So if you had a bathroom with one outlet, you can’t have that on a 20 amp circuit? But can you run 12-2 and have a 15 amp breaker and 15 amp outlet?

I and some friends just wired up my buddies lower level/basement. I have 20 amp on the bathroom and wet bar, seperate circuits. We put the two bathroom outlets on the same circuit as the bedroom outlets. The lights are on a 15 amp circuit and also the outlets in the main living room and lights are 15 amp but seperate circuits. I think i did that right?

Bathrooms, laundries and kitchens(pantry dining room etc) require 20 amp receptacle circuits with no other outlets. You can’t serve other rooms from these circuits.
You can put a duplex 15a receptacle device on a 20a circuit.


All set?

One confused piece is, can i or can i not have the bathroom outlets (2) on the same circuit as two bedrooms?


Bathrooms must be on their own circuit.

I believe that would be a no.

Up a few posts, Greg said: “You can’t serve other rooms from these circuits.”

Yes, i heard that i just choose not to hear it. :twisted:
Now i have to run another wire all the way accross to the other side of the house for the bedroom outlets! DAMN!:mad:
You guys are the best.

You probably have to put that bedroom on an AFCI anyway (if you are on 1999 or later code and 210.12 (B) is not excluded) so it is not a total waste

Keep in mind now you can have a single 20A circuit feeding ALL the bathrooms in the house…as long as it only feeds the bathroom receptacles…

So in closing…if you have a house with 3 bathrooms…you can have one 20A circuit feeding the first bathroom, then looping to the recept. in the next bathroom and so on to the 3rd bathroom…BUT only those recepts can be on that circuit…

Hope that clears that up for you.

But if you only have one bathroom on a curcit it can run everything, but the spa-tub. Is this not correct?

spa is deicated…also GFCI and the GFCI can not be within reach of tub!

Richard…that is correct…kinda in a nutshell without getting too specific and causing brain freeze.

Just for the record…Darren can you show me the code section on that reference?

If a person is IN the tub they should not be able to reset the GFCI for safety reasons…and for that the GFCI should not be within reach of the tub…if you need a code number to explain that your in the wrong business.

DUDE…you are not taking this correctly…

YOU CANT WRITE CODE…now if the electrician installs a RECEPT on the wall within 2 feet of the outer edge of the TUB…you can WRITE it up all you want…FACT IS…it is legal and SAFE…if on GFCI…and as safe as the requirement for a recept at the SINK…which has to be GFCI as well…

Don’t pull this WRONG BUSINESS crap…I can see why electricians have feelings against some inspectors now…I happen to do both but I be dang if some YAHOO is going to tell me I am in the wrong business with 18 years of experience and the NFPA says it is the minimum standard…

YOU said in your comment it CAN’T within reach…HOGWASH !!!..if you are saying it is a safety issue…SAY that…but dont spread false information on the LEGAL requirements of the CODE…you are not a CODE inspector nor am I…YET their is a difference in calling OUT something versus saying it is not allowed !!!

Now…all I said was do you have a reference for that…I did not question YOUR ability or why YOU are in the business…I guess the same issued for why some left another organization is also here…single minds DO NOT think alike…

Also not all GFCI’s in the bathroom have resets…many times they are in the FIRST bathroom or a half bath…and the one in the other bathrooms are not resetable…which is fine as well !

Or even in the panel for that FACT…


He just bit your head off…

Hi to all,

I think there is a popular misconception here over switch and outlet requirements, however Paul is quite correct, all NEC states is that the receptacle is not allowed within the tub or shower enclosure.

Many HI’s are getting this wrong due to a Carson Dunlop slide that many educators wrongly reference here in the US, the slide in question pertains to Canadian code only.

Yes I wish NEC had the same requirements but it simply doesn’t.