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My house was built in the mid 70s, MBWC everywhere. Many lighting circuits are also connected to the outlets. What I want to do is connect a receptacle upto the switch for the pantry so that when someone turns on the pantry lights, the socket will turn on (I will be connecting this socket to LED light strips to illuminate the shelves). What do I need to think about to be within code?:

  • Am I allowed to add new sockets onto lighting circuit nowadays?
  • Do I need to worry about lighting per square foot?
  • Overloading the lights - well I only use LED lights, but someone in the future might stick something else in, right? What do I tell the inspector? I currently count at least 17 lights (14 of those recessed) on this branch (15A 110V), and like I said earlier, there are some sockets on this as well. I use all LEDs, but someone in the future might stick 100W incandescent bulbs in, overloading the branch. What does this mean for me.
  • The pantry is also the washing machine area, so I'll use a GFCI.

I'll have this permitted and inspected.

Thanks

  • Interesting. Never heard of MBWC. Sounds like you have a pretty good plan. TFK's advice is sound. – ArchonOSX Jan 30 '16 at 17:42
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    @ArchonOSX I assume the OP means MWBC (multi wire branch circuit). – DoxyLover Jan 30 '16 at 23:50
  • @DoxyLover Ahh thanks. I usually read typo pretty well but combined with an acronym it gets more difficult. – ArchonOSX Jan 31 '16 at 18:04
  • @ArchonOSX Sorry I meant MWBC! – Prof Feb 1 '16 at 3:19
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Am I allowed to add new sockets onto lighting circuit nowadays?

Yes.

Do I need to worry about lighting per square foot?

Other than for your own personal preference since it's your own home, not really.

Overloading the lights - well I only use LED lights, but someone in the future might stick something else in, right? What do I tell the inspector? I currently count at least 17 lights (14 of those recessed) on this branch (15A 110V), and like I said earlier, there are some sockets on this as well. I use all LEDs, but someone in the future might stick 100W incandescent bulbs in, overloading the branch. What does this mean for me.

The load is done as is installed. If you put this outlet in and later someone wanted to run a 5000W heater on it, that's still on them to ensure that they can, not the original designer. Since all of your lights are LED, you should very well be okay. It all depends on the wattage of the fixtures on the circuit and the overall load.

  • yes so I've just been through the house. Fixtures all seem to be 60W (though bulbs are max 12W). There is one outlet on the circuit (i'll allocate 180W as other sources seem to use 180VA. In the end I counted 23 light fixtures There is also a smoke alarm, which is probably pretty negligible. That comes out to around 1560W if everything was using the max wattage as listed on the fixture. That's getting pretty close. In reality if I turn on all my LED bulbs i'd be using less than 350W. You think the inspector won't bat an eyelid? – Prof Jan 30 '16 at 17:42
  • @Prof Those '60W' bulbs are honestly only 12W then. I'm guessing "60 watt replacement"? That's just a marketing tactic to show that they output as much light as a 60W, but for all purposes necessary, they are only 12W. And yes, 180W is typical per outlet. So honestly you're only at around 460-470W (at 12W per 23 lights) or about 4 amps of your 15A circuit. You are well off and the inspector should know it. – TFK Jan 30 '16 at 17:51
  • thanks alot. one final issue. I'm going to put the socket next to the washing machine GFCI (I'll make sure mine is GFCI aswell). Future people might plug their washing machine into my socket. Do I need to be mindful of this? Can it affect inspection (aren't laundry receptacles 20Amps). Thanks – Prof Jan 30 '16 at 18:39
  • First, outlets are only required to be GFCI if they are within 6ft of a sink. Even the one behind the washer doesn't Have to be GFCI. It's all good practice and you can never go wrong with a GFCI, but just figured I'd mention that. - Next, yes, the laundry circuit is 20A. There is nothing in the code that the inspector can bring up against it, but I'd just say that you should make it obvious that it's not for laundry so as to relieve the confusion. Mount it at a different height, further away, mark it on the cover, etc. It's not required though - it's still up to the future buyer to check. – TFK Jan 30 '16 at 20:09

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