I have never been able to ask the following question and get a simple straight answer and would like to know why there is a controversy, and what the answer really is.

The question: Can a 20 amp 12 AWG circuit for receptacles that are general use receptacles in living areas be used to supply power to a light or two and the switches that control the light or lights? If power is just as easily supplied by a lighting circuit with room on it, then of course one would use that. But if the most convenient supply for the lights is this 20 amp 12 AWG circuit then can it be used?

I have been told yes more times than no. But the no answers have some more detailed take on the issue as it pertains to code.


3 Answers 3


According to 2011 National Electrical Code, there is no problem mixing lighting and receptacles on a 15 or 20 ampere circuit.

2011 National Electrical Code

Article 210 Branch Circuits

210.23 Permissible Loads.
(A) 15- and 20-Ampere Branch Circuits. A 15- or 20-ampere branch circuit shall be permitted to supply lighting units or other utilization equipment, or a combination of both, and shall comply with 210.23(A)(1) and (A)(2).

For some reasons why folks tend to avoid this in practice, take a look at my answer to this other question.


Yes it can. Different areas have rules for load on a circuit. As long as you don't have load issues you are fine doing this. Lots of people don't mix receptacles and overhead lighting to keep the room lit if there is a power failure on one however this is not a hard rule and is just good practice.


The wiring for the light has to be 12 gauge, and the light switch has to be rated for 20 Amps. Can't have 14 gauge wire or 15 amp switch anywhere on a circuit that is protected by a 20 Amp breaker.

  • The part about the 15A switch isn't quite right...see NEC 404.14 for details May 30, 2019 at 22:35

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