I'm at the phase of my kitchen remodel where I have to figure out my outlets.

The Layout:

  • Each wall of outlets is on one of two 20amp circuit in the kitchen. I have indicated the circuits with Red and Green

The wire hanging out of the wall near position 8 is a 15amp circuit that runs the range hoot and kitchen lights.

  • The kitchen before had a countertop 1000w microwave (plugged into outlet 6), the new kitchen will have a 1200w microwave built into a cabinet in the same location.


  • Fridge 340w/ 6amp
  • Microwave 1200w/ 10amp
  • Range hood 200w/ 2amp

My plan:

  • Move the GFCI from outlet 6 and put it at 4,5, or 7 since 6 will be behind a cabinet

  • Create an outlet at position 8 (purple) for the fridge that will be going there ( the oven outlet is getting relocated)

My question/ problem:

I am trying to figure out the best way to balance these appliances between 2 maybe 3 circuits.

There is no dedicated circuit for the microwave and it wouldn't be practical to add one.

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  • I don't quite get your question. At first it seems as if you had only 2 circuits, yet in the last part of your post you mentioned, "2, maybe 3 circuits". Which is it? Also, 2 or even 3 circuits for a kitchen is the bare minimum. Jan 7, 2021 at 20:17
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    Built into the cabinet microwaves are not allowed to be on the small appliance branch circuits.
    – Ed Beal
    Jan 7, 2021 at 20:26
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    @EdBeal Just curious (asking for a friend LOL), would it be code legal to put the fridge on the same circuit as small appliance outlets, but BEFORE the GFCI? Unfortunately, the OP has pretty limited power to the kitchen. What about a dishwasher? Garbage disposal? Instant hot water dispenser? I think I have 8 20 amp circuits to my kitchen. He's in a tough spot to do this code legal, not to say it has to be, stuff that isn't code legal today still works without issues. But if this is going to be inspected, these are issues. Probably should bite the bullet and run a couple more circuits. Jan 7, 2021 at 22:11
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    New wiring to the panel can travel the long way. Assuming it's a rambler, go up into the attic, cross the length of the house, then down through a main-floor interior wall into the floor joist space. If executed well this might get you within a few feet of the panel with zero drywall work. You can also drop out of the attic through an eave and surface mount conduit on the exterior.
    – Greg Hill
    Jan 7, 2021 at 22:59
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    @george Anderson yes the fridge can go first, another method a bit more expensive is a GFCI in each place and only use line terminals so 4-5 more GFCI’s this works well. No on the dishwasher and garbage disposal but yes on the hot water it is (the instant on demand dispenser usually mounted on the sink) not a tanked unit under the sink. I haven’t checked 2020 for this one). Yes with only 3 circuits, the problem is anything built in you have to account for the load counter top you don’t. George you are in Wa state right I would double check on hot water but it used to be ok (counter top device)
    – Ed Beal
    Jan 7, 2021 at 23:44

1 Answer 1


Bad news: putting the fridge on the range hood circuit is a no-go

Your first problem is that you can't, by Code, put a kitchen refrigerator on a general lighting circuit. This is a function of the way NEC 210.52(B)(1) and its exceptions are worded:

(B) Small Appliances.

(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.

Exception No. 1: In addition to the required receptacles specified by 210.52, switched receptacles supplied from a general-purpose branch circuit as defined in 210.70(A)(1), Exception No. 1, shall be permitted.

Exception No. 2: In addition to the required receptacles specified by 210.52, a receptacle outlet to serve a specific appliance shall be permit‐ ted to be supplied from an individual branch circuit rated 15 amperes or greater.

As a result of this, you'll have to either put the fridge ahead of the GFCI on a small appliance circuit, or pull a new homerun from your panel.

Worse news: you can't put a built-in on a small appliance circuit

Furthermore, putting a built-in appliance other than a gas range, cooktop, or oven on a small-appliance branch circuit violates NEC 210.52(B)(2):

(2) No Other Outlets. The two or more small-appliance branch circuits specified in 210.52(B)(1) shall have no other outlets.

Exception No. 1: A receptacle installed solely for the electrical supply to and support of an electric clock in any of the rooms specified in 210.52(B)(1).

Exception No. 2: Receptacles installed to provide power for supplemental equipment and lighting on gas-fired ranges, ovens, or counter-mounted cooking units.

And the kicker: you can't put your chosen microwave on the range hood circuit

Since you're using a built-in microwave, you can't put it on the range hood circuit either, as it'd exceed the 50% limit on fastened-in-place appliances imposed by NEC 210.23(A)(2):

(2) Utilization Equipment Fastened in Place. The total rating of utilization equipment fastened in place, other than luminaires, shall not exceed 50 percent of the branch-circuit ampere rating where lighting units, cord-and-plug-connected utilization equipment not fastened in place, or both, are also supplied.

Note that if the lights weren't on this circuit, then you could put the microwave and the range hood together on it. Furthermore, if you used a countertop-type microwave in a cabinet "nook" instead of a built-in appliance, you'd then be able to put the microwave receptacle on the range hood circuit, as well. But, since neither of those options look to be in the cards, you're stuck pulling a new homerun from your panel.

As to that new homerun...

For this new homerun, I'd pull a 14/2/2 or 12/2/2 (two circuit) cable in order to provide dedicated branch circuits for both the refrigerator and the microwave. You'll need AFCI protection on both circuits as well, although not GFCI since neither of them are feeding kitchen counter receptacles.

  • appreciate the insight @threephaseEel. So the update: I pulled up the floor and found a capped off circuit down there ( not in any box...) did some testing and from what i can tell it is not linked to anything else in the house. My guess is this kitchen was redone in the past and they just got rid of it so it wasnt sticking out of the floor.
    – James D
    Jan 11, 2021 at 3:32
  • So using my above pictures as a reference: I have outlets 1-3 untouched on their previous 20 amp circuit. Outlets 4,5, and 7 are on the 2nd 20 amp circuit. 8 is linked with the range hood but there are no GFCIs on that circuit. Outlet 6 is using that hidden 15amp circuit i found in the floor.
    – James D
    Jan 11, 2021 at 3:39
  • @JamesD -- if that 15A circuit has nothing else on it, I'd put the new microwave on it and then put the fridge on a small appliance circuit ahead of the GFCI Jan 11, 2021 at 4:16
  • so instead of having the fridge linked with the range hood like i have it just throw it on the 20 am before the GFCI? I do have the microwave on that 15amp. as I can tell nothing except 1 basement light it on that
    – James D
    Jan 13, 2021 at 4:22
  • @JamesD I'd move the basement light to the range hood circuit if possible -- that frees up the "hidden" 15A circuit for sole use by the microwave. And yes, throw the fridge on one of the 20A SABCs before the GFCI Jan 13, 2021 at 4:35

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