I recently demolished my basement to start a reconstruction/improvement project. My first horror was the electrical layout. I've got hidden junctions, mismatched wire sizes, improper junctions and quite possibly mixed wire types (copper and aluminum). Needless to say it's all coming out and getting redone properly.

My question is as follows: Is there an "average" number out outlets that are wired off of one circuit breaker? I know the amperage of the appliances plugged in can't exceed the breaker capacity but I'm just curious if electricians only wire up X number of outlets per breaker. From the looks of things now I only see 2-3 per breaker but considering the other problems noted above ... I'm not going to trust the logic behind this number.

1 Answer 1


For residential, the National Electric Code (NEC) has no official min. In Commercial and Industrial you can put 10 on a 15 amp breaker and 13 on a 20 amp breaker. Local codes sometimes specify a max, so you might want to check if you are going high.

But yeah, thats really low! Unless there were some dedicated appliances running there, you can definitely add more. 10-12 outlets per 20A breaker is what I normally do. Now if I know I will be running heavier stuff like TV's, stereo equipt, or small bar refrigerators, I will use less. Keep in mind some appliances need a dedicated line like full refrigerators, dishwashers, spa tubs, etc.

  • Mostly going to be lamps and alarm clocks or low amp devices. We're going to turn the basement into a guest room, maybe a TV but that'd probably be the largest draw. So it looks like I can salvage a few breakers. Figured 2-3 was low, that combined with the existing wiring leads me to trust NOTHING that was done.
    – user45
    Commented Oct 25, 2010 at 13:10
  • 2
    Most TVs nowadays don't qualify as "heavy" stuff, even giant plasma screens will only draw about 300 W (~3 A), and 32" LCDs hover at about 100 W (~1 A)
    – Nick T
    Commented Oct 25, 2010 at 17:13
  • +1 - local code - I highly recommend this type of project was done via a permit. Your local electrical inspector might be happy to answer this on a call. He's going to sign off on what you do, and if there are too many outlets, removing some may be a huge pain. Better to ask first. Commented Dec 3, 2011 at 14:28

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