I'm planning wiring for a bathroom renovation. I'll have two circuits, a 20A and a 15A, bringing power to a switch box at the door, with a table just below for charging. The 20A circuit will power a GFI outlet there (alongside the switches) and from its load side also other outlets in the bathroom. The 15A circuit will power lights and the exhaust fan.

I'd like to ALSO provide an outlet, at the switch location, from the 15A circuit. Since it's there, it's not next to a sink or otherwise wet, and the table will be used primarily for charging. It would be great to keep the 20A outlet free by keeping chargers plugged into the 15A one.

Is this allowed?

Emphasis: To be clear, all outlets will be GFCI protected. Each outlet in the switch boxes (the one on the 15A circuit and the one on the 20A circuit) will be a GFCI outlet. The one on the 20A circuit will also feed, through its load side, other outlets in the same room.

Yes I could make BOTH circuits 20A. Yes it would be "better" to bring a third circuit so ALL the outlets can be 20A. But that's not the question. I want to use a 15A circuit for the lights because there are a lot of them and the #14 cable is cheaper and more importantly easier to work with, especially overhead. So the 15A circuit will exist, and its presence at a location that is designed for low power equipment is perfect ... I just want to know if it is disallowed or highly inadvisable.

  • In addition, consider a high-amp connection under the sink for a tankless water heater. Instant hot water in the bathroom is a game changer for washing up. Even a 20A plug for a small tank heater would be good.
    – JPhi1618
    Commented May 5, 2022 at 18:50
  • A question, for which I don't have an answer, is whether that outlet on the 15A circuit must be GFCI protected. I believe that Ecnerwal's comment indicates that it must be. For the $20-30 for another GFCI outlet, it would be much more cost effective to simply hang another $4 spec-grade non-GFCI outlet off the load side of the 20A circuit and eliminate all question.
    – FreeMan
    Commented May 6, 2022 at 12:43
  • @FreeMan I don't need to know if I must use GFCI because I'll do it regardless. I need to know if I must use a 20A circuit. Yes I can avoid the question by doing as you suggest but it pains me to have a 15A circuit dedicated to less than 1A of lighting, when it's traversing a box where it can be useful for other things. I have 14A available at a location where can use it. That's plenty for almost every conceivable device including straighteners, curlers, everything but hair dryers ... and I'll have a 20A circuit JUST for the hair dryer, with another outlet nearer the mirror.
    – jay613
    Commented May 6, 2022 at 13:20
  • Hence a comment, not an answer. ;) Just think how many of us are "wasting" perfectly good amps on lighting circuits that used to be full of 60-100W incandescent bulbs and are now drawing <1A of power using LEDs...
    – FreeMan
    Commented May 6, 2022 at 13:26
  • "Wasting good amps" ..... LOL. I know some (ok, one) audiophile who would take that seriously, and divert every amp recaptured to enabling his pending amplifier upgrade. :)
    – jay613
    Commented May 6, 2022 at 13:30

2 Answers 2


You can have a additional circuit to the bath in fact that same 20 amp circuit can supply multiple bathrooms but it’s not wise. The lights / light switch do not require a GFCI but all receptacles in a bathroom do require GFCI protection. Is it advisable is opinion but the NEC has required GFCI protection on receptacles for decades to keep folks from killings themselves with electric devices when in water or in wet locations because the body’s natural skin resistance is lowered when wet.

  • I have added some clarity to the question to make clear that all outlets in this room will be GFCI protected.
    – jay613
    Commented May 6, 2022 at 20:25
  • As my answer says you meet the minimum standard. what you want to do is allowed. A bath must have 1 20 amp circuit with all receptacles GFCI protected, any additional circuits are allowed as there are no limits in fact more is better but all receptacles must have GFCI protection, from your question statement you exceed minimum requirements, the only thing unusual is the charging table, but there is no NEC limitation in this regard as long as the receptacles are GFCI protected. I tried to state this but did not do it clearly. Yes you can have an additional 15 amp GFCI protected receptacle(s)
    – Ed Beal
    Commented May 6, 2022 at 23:12

Current code requires a 20A receptacle circuit for bathrooms. Code also allows lights + receptacles on same 20A circuit as long as everything is in one bathroom. I don't know whether you can have a 15A circuit for lights + receptacles when you also have a separate 20A circuit for receptacles.

However, even if code doesn't require it, I'd go with 20A for both circuits - that way (a) a hair dryer (it will happen someday - e.g., if two people are in the bathroom at the same time they'll quickly figure out "if I plug the hair dryer into the phone charging receptacle while you are using a curling iron on another receptacle, it won't trip the breaker like it does if we both plug in to the other receptacles") can be used anywhere with no worries and (b) if you ever decide to put in a heat fan you will have the power to do that properly.

  • 1
    I thought about this. The cost of using 12/2 for the lights and the effort of working with 12/2 for all the lights (10 of them) makes it unattractive to me for the benefit that maybe one day two people can dry their hair together. I'd probably rather run a third circuit if I want two 20A circuits. I have the space in my panel. But from a provisioning perspective I think what I've planned is good enough. From a code perspective I'd like to know if all outlets in a bathroom must be on a 20A circuit.
    – jay613
    Commented May 5, 2022 at 16:05
  • 2
    Codewise I'm recalling it to be specifically "countertop receptacles" or "receptacles serving the countertop" that must be the 20A circuit. Other outlets need to be GFCI protected, but don't need to be 20A.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented May 5, 2022 at 16:09
  • So it comes down to whether a countertop or table that is separate from the vanity and has no faucets or water or mirror at it, is a "countertop receptacle". Is an outlet near any horizontal surface a "countertop" one?
    – jay613
    Commented May 6, 2022 at 13:23
  • @Ecnerwal, when you say a 20A circuit, I assume you're talking about the wiring and breaker being 20A, but the outlets can still be 15A? I believe this is pretty standard code nowadays to permit 15A outlets on 20A circuits (possibly with an exception if it's the only device on the circuit). But I'm curious in your experience if GFCI are also typically 20A passthrough, or if it would need to be a true 20A GFCI?
    – Milwrdfan
    Commented May 6, 2022 at 21:04
  • I think there is some confusion mixing a bath and kitchen. A bath only requires 1 20 amp circuit period. This circuit can power a heater, light fan etc. anything more or additional is allowed. this question is about a bathroom, not a kitchen, countertops / “SMALL APPLIANCE “ circuits are a totally different issue. a bath has no counter top requirement as according to the NEC ALL receptacles in a bath are required to have GFCI protection and there is 1 required 20 amp circuit, anything more than the minimum is allowed as it is not specifically disallowed.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented May 6, 2022 at 23:26

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