Does the circuit providing a light at the electrical panel have to be ONLY for that light?

I'm fairly sure there specifically has to be a light at the panel, as well as a circuit with an accessible outlet. My electrician at the panel install felt these needed to be separate, which I, with experience stumbling through the dark to a fusebox (20 years before that house got circuit breakers) certainly agree with. But... This means I'm spending an entire 15 amp breaker to run a 60W lightbulb (or its 8 W replacement.) Do I need to? Is that circuit required to be JUST for the panel area, or is that not actually the case? In particular, if I'm running other lighting loads off it, is it still acceptable so long as it does, indeed, light the panel area?

USA location, 2011 NEC is the code currently adopted.

1 Answer 1


The required lighting outlet for areas with equipment is definitely not required to be on a dedicated circuit. It can be on any general circuit.

Same goes for the receptacle. It is not required to be dedicated, but typically this is. This receptacle is required for unfinished basement areas. It's not required to be at the panel, but usually this is the easiest place to put it.

2011 NEC

III. Required Outlets

210.70 Lighting Outlets Required

(A) Dwelling Units.

In dwelling units, lighting outlets shall be installed in accordance with 210.70(A)(1), (A)(2), and (A)(3).

(3) Storage or Equipment Spaces.

For attics, underfloor spaces, utility rooms, and basements, at least one lighting outlet containing a switch or controlled by a wall switch shall be installed where these spaces are used for storage or contain equipment requiring servicing. At least one point of control shall be at the usual point of entry to these spaces. The lighting outlet shall be provided at or near the equipment requiring servicing.

2011 NEC

III. Required Outlets

210.52 Dwelling Unit Receptacle Outlets

(G) Basements, Garages, and Accessory Buildings.

For a one-family dwelling, the following provisions shall apply:

(1) At least one receptacle outlet, in addition to those for specific equipment, shall be installed in each basement, in each attached garage, and in each detached garage or accessory building with electric power.

(2) Where a portion of the basement is finished into one or more habitable rooms, each separate unfinished portion shall have a receptacle outlet installed in accordance with this section.

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