Two 20 amp Circuits for Kitchen Receptacles?

Hi all, I’m studying and have a question. The text states the following:

Kitchen Circuits
All kitchens are required to be supplied by two 20-amp circuits over and above any requirements for dedicated outlets for stoves, etc. These circuits shall not serve any lighting needs.

One of these branch circuits should be used for small appliance receptacles no more than 20 inches above the countertop. These outlets must also be GFCI-protected. The minimum two 20-amp circuits shall both supply receptacles serving the countertop space.

I’m a little confused about the wording here. As I understand, two separate circuits are required in the kitchen (not supplying service to lighting or large appliances, eg. range or fridge). One of the circuits feeds receptacles mounted above the counter top.

What is the other circuit for? As I’m reading the second paragraph, it seems like it contradicts itself.

The countertop receptacles (small appliance) should be supplied by at least 2x 20amp circuits. In other words, the countertop receptacles should be split between the two 20amp circuits. These same circuits can feed other receptacles in the kitchen area (only) just not lighting and dedicated appliance receptacles. The reason for at least 2 circuits is when you plugin 2 or more heavy duty portable kitchen appliances you won’t trip the breaker. 2 is the minimum, if the kitchen is large you can find 3 or more countertop/portable/small appliance circuits.


That makes sense. Thank you for clarification!

It seems clear:

Larry, the way this line is written is the source of my confusion :

One of the circuits feeds receptacles mounted above the counter top.

Simon’s response was clear enough to answer my question.


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The question is poorly worded and differs from the code requirements.

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I agree with Jim this part is poorly written and incorrect. The countertop is required to be served by more than one circuit.


BTW, around here that is interpreted by our AHJs as separate circuits on either side of the sink. The left side of the sink is one circuit and the right side is a separate circuit.

What if the sink is near a wall with a space for a single receptacle?

IMO a pretty silly interpretation and certainly not supported by the wording of the NEC.

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Regarding sink against a wall. We rarely see that, but they make allowances for different configurations. As far as silly, the silliness that I see from our AHJs goes way…way beyond this. I’ll add another WAY to that. And all this goes to something I regularly tell our students at the InterNACHI HI school. Find out what your local AHJs are doing. In most states and municipalities around the US, code is just a guideline and the AHJ can interpret it, ignore it, or go beyond it as he/she pleases and knowing what they want helps us as HIs do our job. It doesn’t make us code checkers, but it helps us to better inform our clients.
For instance, here one of our large cities is fine with one combustion air tube of any diameter for a furnace/boiler/water heater of any BTUs. As a home inspector, I make a note in my report that the combustion air may be inadequate based on manufacturer and industry guidelines, but I tell my client that the city approved it anyway. Since I’ve told this story before, I know at this point, some body will say that the city is open to a lawsuit and I say so what? Not my problem or concern. That’s the city’s problem, but after fifty or more years of doing it their way, still no lawsuit.

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Must be a local thing, here in NJ we have a unified statewide code so no one on the local level gets to choose how they want things done. Some do try though. :slightly_smiling_face:

Ditto in Minnesota. All electrical is inspected by State mandated Inspectors, not a local municipality AHJ.

In my state and I assume others the nec requirements for 2 circuits means 2 separate circuits need to be installed in the kitchen. The circuits can supply power to multiple outlets they do not have to be dedicated to one outlet.

The NEC prohibits lighting from being on the 20 amp small appliance circuits.

It also prohibits using the SABC for other rooms receptacles unless it’s a dining room, pantry, breakfast room.

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Sorry about that.
210.52(B)(2) Exception No. 2

Morning, Saman.
Hope this post finds you well.
As to your question.
1: Lighting circuits. 120 V.
2: Equipment/Appliance circuit. 240 V.

That lighting is built into the gas range. Room lighting is prohibited.