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Can I wire 2 ceiling fans and 5 ceiling spot lights and 3 closet ligthts on a singe circuit with 12 ga wire and a 15 amp breaker? Or should I wire the 2 ceiling fans on a separate circuit?

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There should be no problem putting it all on a single 15 ampere circuit. Likely in the worst case scenario, each fixture would consume ~100 watts. That would be using large 52" fans, and 100 watt bulbs in each fixture. With the 10 fixtures, that would be 1000 watts (10 * 100 = 1000). A 15 ampere 120 volt circuit can provide 1800 watts of power (15A * 120V).

More realistically, you're going to be using lower wattage fixtures, especially nowadays with CFL and LED bulbs becoming more common. Here's some calculations based on various wattage devices.

  • 10 devices @ 75 watts each = 750 watts.
  • 10 devices @ 60 watts each = 600 watts.
  • 2 fans @ 100 watts, and 8 lights @ 60 watts = 680 watts.
  • 2 fans @ 75 watts with 3 60 watt blub light kits, and 8 lights @ 100 watts = 1310 watts.
  • 2 fans @ 100 watts with 3 100 watt bulb light kits, and 8 lights @ 100 watts = 1600 watts.

Since it's a 15 ampere circuit, you'll only need 14 AWG conductors. Unless there's a specific reason you're using 12 AWG instead, which is also fine.

  • great answer. You can also upgrade the breaker to 20 amp if it's 12AWG all the way through the circuit. – DrewJordan May 22 '15 at 13:56
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Maximum number of devices on a breaker is 12. So you pass the first rule with only having 10 items. Also number 12GA for a 15 amp breaker works as well. If your ceiling fans are not some crazy ones. It's fine on one circuit. I have never checked how many amps they draw cause its never very much, and i have never heard of it being a problem. Each 60W light is .5Amps so you have quite a bit of room if your bulbs are that wattage or less! Remember you can load your 15A breaker up to 12 amps before you run into code problems.

  • Can you cite a source for the claim that you can only have 12 devices on a breaker? Secondly, if it's a 15 ampere breaker, (theoretically) you can draw 15 amperes indefinitely without tripping the breaker. I'm not sure where you came up with the idea that 12 amperes should trip a 15 ampere breaker. – Tester101 May 18 '15 at 10:18
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    Breakers are rated at 80% for continuous use. If a load is running for longer than three hours at more than 80% (e.g. more than 12 amps on a 15A circuit), than the breaker is supposed to trip. Thats how they are designed. I do understand that this is not always the case that they trip. Heck I have seen 15.5 amps hold on a breaker without tripping. But thats not how breakers are designed and why we always do the 80% calculation for breaker sizing. – JollyGoodTime May 18 '15 at 13:21
  • As for the number of devices. It seems like the internet is saying that a lot of states are different on that rule. So thats a good point! What do you usually do Tester101? – JollyGoodTime May 18 '15 at 13:27
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    @Janessa, not to sound insulting, but you really need to confirm all this stuff on your own. Going solely on what someone else tells you is a sure fire way to get things wrong, and this is not a trade to get things wrong. Your early posts in this had me worried, glad you found out for yourself. – Speedy Petey May 19 '15 at 11:05
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    Also, a continuous load is one that is expected to run for three hours or more, not one that simply can run for three hours or more. BIG difference. – Speedy Petey May 19 '15 at 11:06
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You are FINE with this. What you are proposing is a good way less than a 20A circuit could handle in this type of setting.

Personally I'd go with #14 on a 15A breaker for loads like this.

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