Outlets on branch circuits

Is there any restriction to the number of outlets that can be installed on a branch circuit? If not, what is the recommended number that can be used safely? Thanks in advance. :slight_smile:

In general, in a residence, in the US, barring local codes, NO…there is no limit.

8-12 is typical. 12-15 is not unheard of, depending on the room.

Thanks for the reply Speedy.

I’ve seen whole new home additions put on one breaker. “Breaker” should be a tool you use on the electrician’s legs.


!!! couldn’t believe my eyes at first. The Canadian Electrical Code limits the “outlets” (includes lights) on a circuit to a max of 12 in residential. We used to wire in 9-10 to leave room for another outlet or two at a future time if needed.

Just for FYI…Electricians ( good ones ) really understand that the amount of general use circuits as a minimum is important to the dwellings overall layout. Guess thats the lighting designer in me speaking…

If the dwelling is 2,400 sq. ft then we have to calculate the lighting and general appliance calculation…leaving off the small appliance and laundry circuit for this small specific calculation IF you want to know how many circuits should be in the house as a general rule…

So 2,100 sq ft x 3 VA/ft = 6,300 VA

ok…so 6,300VA/120V = 52.5A ( and we know this rounds to 53A right )

So…you have 53A/15A Circuit = 3.53 (now you KNOW you can’t have .53 of a curcuit…right…lol )

So the mimimum amount of circuits for general lighting and receptacless is 4 circuits…as to the number of receptacles on each circuit the NEC simply says they should be proportional…( evenly balanced if you will )

So if you have 35 general use items - 45 items / 4 circuits = 11-12 items per circuit…

Now…that is some guidelines for how it is done…a good electrician will look at all the factors, and indeed we usually have well more than 4 circuits for general lighting and receptacle loads…but we keep it balanced to the point of in my companies case we dont put more than 10 items on a circuit…period…

Remember this has nothing to do with the required receptacles and so that is needed…this was just to give you an idea of a method for determining the number of circuits needed in a dwelling based on the square footage.

Paul is right. The NEC really sets the number of circuits based on square footage. Receptacles are placed for convenience. You can handle up to 600 sq/ft with a single 15a circuit and still be “hold your nose legal”. If this was one big room you could probably get away with 8 or 9 receptacles. If it was a chopped up floor plan with a couple rooms and lots of wall segments it could be a huge number.
Good “design” would have more circuits but that is not what the minimum code says.
One down side to the 2008 rule requiring AFCIs on general lighting is, I bet you will see more square footage on each breaker now. I have already seen bedrooms pushing the 600 sq/ft rule pretty hard

Greg I love that term…" hold your nose legal "…excellent…:slight_smile:

Let’s not forget that the receptacles in the kitchen and dinning room of this same 2100 square foot house will be on the small appliance circuits which greatly reduce the area covered by these four 15 amp circuits.

When giving a general lighting and receptacle calculation. The calculated (4) circuits do not include those required circuits. You would only apply those when doing the demand load calculation for the calculated load for sizing the service itself.

Us Instructors…you gotta love us

With that said…what you say guys…do most of the homes you guys do have the minimum (2) Small Appliance Circuits and (1) Laundry…lol…

Seems like the last few houses we have done I have like (4) minimum Small Appliance Circuits lol…and (2) laundry circuits…Big Houses…lol