Either there is conflicting information or a lack of when it comes to this question. Is it allowed in NEC code to permit an over-the-range microwave to run off of one of the small-appliance branch circuits?


Folks may be too wrapped up in the kitchen rules and forgetting the everywhere rule.

No receptacles if fixed loads are >50%

Add up the rated amperage (or VA/120 or watts/120) of each and every load that is either hardwired or permanently installed like the microwave, garbage disposal, fan, lights, yadayada. Got the total?

Now look at the circuit breaker, it'll be 15 or 20 amps.

If the total of all the fixed, installed loads is more than half the circuit breaker rating, that circuit cannot power receptacles (other than the receptacles for the installed loads.)

  • Upvote for finding the flaw in looking at the obvious section.
    – Hari Ganti
    Mar 24 '17 at 23:27
  • I agree about the fixed loads. If the load is less than 50% this logic would say it is legal. The handbook (exact same code book with added explanations and commentary on why each section has its rules by the code committees) says it is not to code for the device to be fixed and connected. A portable trash compactor, dishwasher and microwave are legal to plug in to the small appliance circuits.put them in a cabinet and they are not.
    – Ed Beal
    Mar 31 '17 at 20:40

210.52 (B)(1) says that the 20A circuits shal serve all wall and floor receptacle outlets covered by 210.52(A), all countertop outlets covered by 210.52(C), and receptacle outlets for refrigeration equipment.

210.52(B)(2) Says that the two or more small-appliance branch circuits specified in 210.52(B)(1) shall have no other outlets.

210.52(A) - General wall outlets 12' O.C.

210.52(C)(5) says that outlets not readily accessible by appliances fastened in place shall not be considered as required outlets.

Given this i take it as an above range microwave is a fastened in place appliance, therefore that receptacle is not covered by 210.52(C).

And since 210.52(B)(1) says that the 2 small appliance circuits shall only cover 210.52(A) and 210.52(C), thus a separate circuit is needed.

  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Nice answer: keep 'em coming! Mar 20 '19 at 16:17

My answer would be that an additional circuit is required. I think if you read a bit further exception # 2 specific appliances shall be permitted to be supplied from a 15 a individual branch circuit. The built in appliances require a separate circuit in my state but if sitting on the counter the can be powered from one of the 2 small appliance circuits.

The commentary in the hand book for 210.52.B.1 states outlets in cabinets are not allowed only portable appliances used at a kitchen counter. I believe my state code follows this in requiring fixed in place appliances like microwaves, and dishwashers to be on a separate circuit from the small equipment branch circuits required.

  • 1
    I was reading into 210.52(C)(5) and it sounds like you are excepted from the countertop receptacle location requirement for "appliances fastened in place." I read that as, "You can have it on the same circuit, but it cannot be one of the required receptacles."
    – Hari Ganti
    Mar 24 '17 at 19:30
  • 1
    The exception you mention states that you may have additional, dedicated circuits.
    – Hari Ganti
    Mar 24 '17 at 19:31

This is how I "red tag" microwaves that are fixed:

  • Art 90.1 Safeguarding of installation of the appliances.
  • Art 100 To install the appliance as per manufacturer specifications. This includes all attachments of the electrical in their proper location. Most say dedicated circuit.
  • Art 210.11 Branch circuits shall be provided for appliance loads
  • Art 210.21B1 If the appliance is 16amps, you can not put a 15amp receptacle on a 20amp branch circuit;.
  • Art 210.23(A)(2)At no time may a cooking appliance load exceed the branch circuit rating. At no time may the loads exceed more than 50% that are fixed shared with other receptacles.
    Exception – The two small appliance branch circuits required shall only supply the countertop receptacles and adjacent breakfast room and may not feed other "fixed" appliances or receptacles.
  • Art 210.19A3 Cooking appliances require a branch circuit for that individual appliance.
  • Art 210.52(3). These circuits are required in addition to the two small appliance countertop circuits in the kitchen. Any appliance mounted in the cupboards or cabinets require their own branch circuit.
  • 422.16(B)(4)(5) A microwave above a cooktop or stove with hood extractor requires a dedicated branch circuit.

I can only access the 2017 NEC, but I don't know of anywhere that has adopted it yet. It's likely, however, to be stricter than whichever year of the NEC is legal in your area. In the NEC 2017, it says

210.52(B)(1) Receptacle Outlets Served.

In the kitchen, pantry, breakfast room, dining room, or similar area of a dwelling unit, the two or more 20-ampere small-appliance branch circuits required by 210.11(C)(1) shall serve all wall and floor receptacle outlets covered by 210.52(A), all countertop outlets covered by 210.52(C), and receptacle outlets for refrigeration equipment.

This would appear to indicate that a separate circuit, exclusively for the microwave, is not required.

  • Anyway, i would still like to see some opinions on interpreting the poetry on the permission of an over-the-range microwave on one of the small-appliance branch circuits...Anyone else?
    – true. lion
    Mar 24 '17 at 23:13
  • An over the range micro IS NOT one of the outlets covered in 210.52(A) or (C) or refrigeration. It is not complaint to have one one a SABC. It is also a fixed in place appliance. Mar 24 '17 at 23:21
  • @SpeedyPetey That's my point. It is permitted to be on the SABC, but it does not count as a required receptacle for it. There is an exception on the placement of receptacles that covers fixed-in-place appliances which are often above or below the countertop.
    – Hari Ganti
    Mar 24 '17 at 23:25

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