In my rebuilding project I have counted 18 outlets and lights on one bedroom circuit that travels through 3 rooms. Is that ok?

  • Is that counting duplex outlets (where you can plugin two devices) as 1 or 2 outlets?
    – Grant
    Commented Nov 17, 2014 at 18:42
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    Ask inspector they would know the codes
    – user32176
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 0:26
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    Since you're rebuilding, you should be putting a lot more circuits in. If you don't have enough panel space, then homerun as many circuits as you can, and tie them together in a large junction box right next to your breaker panel. Then run a short cable to the panel proper and tie them all to one breaker. When you get a new panel, you can then easily split them into multiple circuits. Or, if a loading issue arises, you can rearrange things a little bit sooner. Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 22:36

9 Answers 9



Also, check your breaker. You can have as many outlets on a single circuit as you like*, but you have to be careful because you can only pull so much current from the circuit at a time. For example, don't expect to run an electric chainsaw and a vacuum at the same time off a single 15A circuit. If you have a 15A breaker attached which is likely the case, I would recommend not running any major appliances (Such as a Microwave or Window AC unit) off of it, since that will take up most of your juice, and one too many lamps in the other 17 outlets could trip your breaker. If you need to run a heavy appliance, just wire in another circuit, and don't drill a hole through the wires near the breaker box (Voice of experience).

*Some areas such as Belgium limit you to 8 outlets on a circuit, or you violate wiring code.

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    This may depend on local code, in Belgium you can only have 8 outlet pairs per circuit Commented Nov 17, 2014 at 12:14
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    In my local town it is 16 outlets max and heard they are going to push it to 12. But three bedrooms on a circuit is very normal.
    – DMoore
    Commented Nov 17, 2014 at 21:43

Depends where you are and for what value of OK you are looking. So long as the breaker is 15 amps it should be "safe." @Ratchet Freak mentions a specific numerical limitation in Belgium. Other people have mentioned some inspectors in the US having an expectation of "around 7" but I don't think code was ever found to support that, other than the code of "do what it takes to get the inspector off your back."

Personally, I'd break it up, and separate lighting from outlets (I detest being left in the dark when something plugged into an outlet causes a trip.) However, if the bulk of what is happening at the outlets is "nothing" or "wall-wart for a phone" or basically if you don't trip it much, you COULD leave it alone. It's certainly going to be cheaper to do nothing.

Without knowing how many devices were lights .vs. outlets, I'd do lighting and probably at least 2 outlet circuits, possibly 3. But I have a particular philosophy, and there's no code requirement to do it my way.

  • In past local code for me it was 80% same as an industrial or commercial install using 180va per yoke but that and several restrictions are now gone or will be with the 17 code adoption next month.+
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Sep 16, 2017 at 23:19

Ontario, Canada Code: 15 units on a 15Amp circuit breaker

1 light = 1 unit;

a typical plug-in outlet = 2 units

My comments

  1. this needs revision: A typical 15 Amp circuit can support 300 LED light bulbs (60W equivilent output) without blowing!

  2. suggest a separate circuit for a computer system


There are some assumptions that were missed in this discussion, so I will point out the missing questions by listing them here.

a. total length of power supply wiring? b. total wire gauge.

c. what is the expected maximum load ?

d. what is the circuit breaker rating?

e. is the power supply circuit "shared" by outlets AND lighting? (this is a common mistake)

the answers quite frankly offered advice without even considering or discussing facts about the design of this existing circuit.

my first reaction reading this, what this does not sound like a well designed system. It looks like there was too few funds or not enough talent to actually design a SAFE and good working electrical system in your home.

(I was actually searching for a nice schematic for a 4 way switch to 19 LED recessed ceiling lights so I could share that with a co worker who is just starting out and is eager to learn)

Here is what happens when you find this kind of work:

usually there are other mistakes made that come back to haunt you when the walls go up!

lights flicker or breakers pop when everyone wakes up, or goes to take a shower, or basically whenever there is too much load for the circuit.

is the wire even adequate for the expected load. remember electrical safety 101......when all else fails the wire should be able to hold up....but if the wire is wrong, or the load is just ridiculous because someone wanted to be cheap...then, break out the weenies....burnpile chicken anyone?

other things I see when I go looking when I see underbuilt circuits:

grounds not installed or not correctly....zap...thank you may I have another.

wire damaged during installed.....nice weld joint in your switch box dude! the charcoal discoloration really brings out the curtains in this room!

wrong sizes breakers..pop....pop...pop...pop...

GFCI not installed correctly or not at all in the "best locations"....might as well just stick a fork in the outlet and get it over with....seriously.

wire cables not routed correctly or hanging dangerously near heat sources of sharp points and objects.

943 wire cables all "homerunned" in a tight bundle about one foot in diamter...squeezed together with zip ties even...you know to pass through tight attic spaces that travel towward the panel breaker box. Yes, its creative...Yes, it is sexy looking so tight........mister voltage drop due to wire heat and other electromagnetic forces (inductance)....you just caused a serious power problem that this family will spend years and countless thousands trying to figure out why light dim and fade...randomly...even when the use on the circuit is within "spec".

I AM an avionics tech....it's the wires man...it's the freaking wires. overbuild your wiring...you will thank yourself for spending a little more today...


There are two sides to this, safety and compliance.

From a safety perspective you should be desiging circuits such that overloads are unlikely.

Breakers are there for when a peice of equipment is faulty or someone violates the assumptions that went into the installation. They are not there to limit load in normal use.

This means you need to think about what loads are likely to be used where. Especially if you live in a place with relatively low power socket circuits (from the terminology you use i'm guessing you are in america).

Your setup is it is likely to be fine as long as the heating/aircon is provided centrally but if people start using portable heaters/aircon overloading becomes far more likely.

From a compliance perspective it's going to depend on where you live. Some places are very prescriptive about the maximum number of outlets on a circuit and/or the minimum number of circuits to supply certain areas. Others leave it to the judgement of the installer.


well.... That's not dangerous, or illegal code-wise (possibly), and it is ok to have that. But I must say, in all of the units I service, I havn't seen that many outlets on one circuit. If anything, I'd say to run a tv or two, maybe a game console or two as well since they hardly draw any amperage. Usually I see at most 5-8 outlets per circuit on 20 amp breakers. But there's nothing wrong with your setup. Just watch for high-demand electronics or heaters on that one circuit.

  • "or heaters". +1
    – elrobis
    Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 18:45
  • sorry "and heaters". Too many units I've seen burnt up outlets that had irons and heaters in ONE outlet.
    – KALI99
    Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 18:46
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    Ha! I wasn't grammar-nazi'ing you. I just read it and was like, "yeah, especially if that's a 14 AWG wire someone got tired of bouncing and swapped in a 20 amp breaker to 'fix' it. Heaters'll cook that wire, 911-style!"
    – elrobis
    Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 18:49
  • Lol sorry elrobis. Then you know what I mean. :D.
    – KALI99
    Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 18:51

I've always been told that it's 8 for a 15A circuit and 10 for a 20A circuit. Count the light as one of those as well. So it would be 7 outlets and 1 light fixture. But exercise common sense as this all depends on what you plan to plug into them.

If you know for a fact you are are going to plug in stuff that draws a lot of power, like a window AC unit, consider putting that on a separate circuit.

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    "I have always been told..." does not cut it with regard to electrical codes and advice. The correct answer has already been given above. Commented Nov 11, 2016 at 17:47

The NEC doesent limit the number in residential but some local jurisdiction's do. Until last code cycle we had the same limitations that commercial facilities did where each yoke was rated at 180va . for a 15 amp circuit this allowed for 10 outlets and on a 20 amp circuit 13 outlets were allowed. A yoke is Basicly a single ,duplex or triplex outlet.


I would look at the out lets 2 per wall if a big house keeping lighting separate.. if your talking kitchen... consider this microwaves are rated for 1000watts of power, (volts X amps = watts) 120volt service microwave will consume 9 amps, don't forget the electronics that it takes to run... now microwave working refrigerator starting, you possible can pop a 15 amp circuit.

  • You're forgetting to take into account kitchen Small Appliance Branch Circuits Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 3:34

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