Is it OK to use a 15amp breaker and a 14ga wire (14/2 copper) to run 2 GFCI receptacles and a flood light on the exterior of my home? The voltage is 120.

The 2 receptacles are rated at 15amps and won't be carrying a continuous load very often. Might plug a George foreman grill into it every now and then, maybe some party lights. And an occasional power tool (hedge trimmers, weed eater, etc.). I believe the flood lights are 75w a piece.

Should I go with a 20amp/12ga wire instead?


It is a new circuit so I think I will go with the 20A/12ga just to be safe and I will check the code requirements for having receptacles on the same circuits as lights!

Lets just it is OK to have both receptacles and lights on the same circuit. Is this an acceptable way to wire it? Using a junction box to divert wire towards the outlets and a separate wire to control the flood light with a switch on the same circuit? Pardon my drawing!

Circuit Diagram

  • General rule, wire should be able to continuously handle more amps than the breaker/fuse rating.
    – John U
    Feb 19, 2014 at 17:56
  • You should refer to the NEC latest version, it's usually pretty prescriptive. There may be a conflicting requirement between having outlets and lights on the same circuit.
    – Spehro Pefhany
    Feb 19, 2014 at 18:08
  • 1
    Actually, the continuous load should not exceed 80% of the breaker rating or wire ampacity. If you're going to run 2 block heaters through the outlets, the 15 amps will not be adequate, but if they are just for convenience for something like occasional portable power tool use then you're technically OK. I would recommend going 20A/12ga anyway to lessen the likelihood of nuisance tripping.
    – bcworkz
    Feb 19, 2014 at 21:06

2 Answers 2


There's no problem with anything you've suggested. You can use a 15 ampere breaker to protect 14 AWG copper conductors, without a problem. If you feel that 15 amperes is not enough for the receptacles, there is no problem installing 12 AWG wire with a 20 ampere breaker. It's completely up to you what you think is best. If the cost difference is not prohibitive, it may be worth installing #12 on a 20A breaker. Especially if you think you might plug in multiple higher load items at the same time (George Foreman and electric mower for example), or may consider adding additional receptacles in the future.

There is also no problem using a junction box to provide power to different devices. As long as the box is properly installed, accessible, sized appropriately, and adequately sealed.

Nothing in electrical code says that lights and receptacles cannot be on the same circuit. It's more of a guideline than a rule. The general idea is that if the vacuum trips the breaker, you don't want to be left standing in the dark.

The only problem I see, is with the GFCI receptacles in your drawing. You will not need two GFCI receptacles. You'll simply feed the second receptacle, from the load side of the GFCI receptacle. When wired this way, the GFCI receptacle provides protection to the downstream receptacle.

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If the 14 ga wire is there then I would leave it and you will be fine If this is a new circuit I would put in a 12ga wire just in case. You never know what you will need to plug in outside in the future.

  • Update. I would add the light on an other 15amp circuit preferably one with lights on it. You can connect 2 wires into a breaker so you dont need a junction box. This way you can run a 14ga wire to the switch and light. It is alot easier to work with than 12ga. Plus cheaper. Leave the outside outlets on a new dedicated 20 amp breaker.
    – Justin K
    Feb 19, 2014 at 22:23

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