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Ok so this paint photo is roughly what I want to do to my basement. The lights are 6 inch recessed lights. The fireplace blower was on the old 15 amp circuit so I dont see a problem there. It currently has the old black wiring that is on a 15 amp breaker. I plan of replacing the wiring maybe leaving the home run. Can I place all of this on one 15 amp circuit or should I split the lights and the receptacles to two 15 amp circuits? Or Should I use one 20 amp circuit?

  • Smart, or minimal - what's your preference?
    – Ecnerwal
    Apr 10, 2015 at 2:52
  • Well it's my uncles basement so I would think he wants minimal. I def think hes going overkill with the receptacles but the room only had 1 on each wall before. Apr 10, 2015 at 2:59
  • What is the NEC way and what is the smart way? Apr 10, 2015 at 3:00
  • I'd think a guy who's sick of having not enough receptacles would want the overkill number of outlets backed with overkill power...you should ask him.
    – Ecnerwal
    Apr 10, 2015 at 3:13
  • As far as number of receptacles, NEC 210.52 requires that no point along the floor line of an unbroken wall can be further than 6ft from a receptacle, and any wall surface =>2ft is considered. This means you can have 12ft between receptacles, starting 6ft from every door or other wall edge (as defined in 210.52). Often it makes sense to have more or shift things around if you know a TV or desk will be in a certain spot, or specifically want a receptacle that won't end up behind a couch etc. Here's a decent summary but I'd also suggest a read of NEC 210.52.
    – gregmac
    Apr 16, 2015 at 13:54

1 Answer 1


I'm going to leave minimal for someone else and answer smart....

Put the lights on their own 15A breaker.

Put receptacles on a couple of 20 amp breakers.

If you MUST share (or think you must) put half the lights and some receptacles on one circuit (probably 15 amp unless you really want to run 12 gauge to lights) and half the lights and some other receptacles on another. Having lived with shared outlets and lights, I'm opposed to being left in the dark when a receptacle is overloaded. A lighting only circuit almost never trips, IME.

Being a basement I think you need everything to be GFCI protected at this point - either with GFCI breakers or with a GFCI as the "first thing in line" as it comes off the breaker.

Tester 101's answer to my question about lighting circuits did come up with a figure of 3 volt-amperes per square foot based on use as a dwelling for minimum power required. But minimums can be exceeded.

  • Ok its just a fireplace blower. Sorry Apr 10, 2015 at 2:58
  • Ah - that's different. I'll edit.
    – Ecnerwal
    Apr 10, 2015 at 3:00
  • Ok so say I put the receptacles on a 20 amp circuit. Can I use 14-2 with a 20 amp breaker? Apr 10, 2015 at 3:11
  • No. 20A breaker means 12Ga copper minimum. 14Ga limits you to 15 amp breaker.
    – Ecnerwal
    Apr 10, 2015 at 3:12
  • 1
    @NeuromancerNoob: FYI the difference in price between 12ga and 14ga is not that great, you're probably talking about ~$10 difference for a job like this (maybe a little more if you have to pick up a new box of wire nuts).
    – Hank
    Apr 10, 2015 at 3:43

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