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For some reason I have it in my head that there is a section in the NEC which prevents the use of anything smaller than 20A circuits to supply multiple general purpose receptacles.

While I know for certain that the use 20A circuits to supply residential multiwire circuits is common convention and a requirement for some outlets in kitchens, laundry rooms, and bathrooms (sections from 210.11 of the 2014 NEC quoted below), I cannot seem to find a section in the NEC which prohibits the use of 15A circuits to supply multiple general purpose receptacles in other areas of the house. This is not to say I plan to deviate or am advocating deviating from this convention for circuits which supply multiple receptacles, I would just like to confirm whether I somehow tricked myself into thinking it is actually required by the NEC or if it is really just a good common convention.

From NFPA-70:2014 (2014 NEC)

210.11 Branch Circuits Required.

...

(C) Dwelling Units.

(1) Small-Appliance Branch Circuits. In addition to the number of branch circuits required by other parts of this section, two or more 20-ampere small-appliance branch circuits shall be provided for all receptacle outlets specified by 210.52(B).

(2) Laundry Branch Circuits. In addition to the number of branch circuits required by other parts of this section, at least one additional 20-ampere branch circuit shall be provided to supply the laundry receptacle outlet(s) required by 210.52(F). This circuit shall have no other outlets.

(3) Bathroom Branch Circuits. In addition to the number of branch circuits required by other parts of this section, at least one 120-volt, 20-ampere branch circuit shall be provided to supply a bathroom receptacle outlet(s). Such circuits shall have no other outlets.

Exception: Where the 20-ampere circuit supplies a single bathroom, outlets for other equipment within the same bathroom shall be permitted to be supplied in accordance with 210.23(A)(1) and (A)(2).

  • If you are using 15A receptacles (Mr. Horrified not Mr. Winky) on a 20A circuit, it is mandatory to have at least two receptacles. A duplex receptacle will suffice. – Harper Sep 10 '16 at 21:33
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In the US under the NEC in a residential setting there is no prohibition for a 15A general use receptacle circuit. You are correct in that some areas; kitchens (and similar/associated rooms), laundry, bathrooms, do require 20A receptacle circuits, but there is nothing that prohibits 15A receptacle circuits in most other places.

  • The only difference on a 15 & 20 amp circuit is the total # of outlets allowed. Other than the amperage. – Ed Beal Sep 9 '16 at 18:54
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    @EdBeal, and in a dwelling setting there is no limitation on number of receptacles or outlets on a circuit. – Speedy Petey Sep 9 '16 at 18:57
  • there absolutely is a maximum number for both 15 & 20 amp circuits each outlet or yoke for duplex circuits I don't have my books at home but can find several limitations and cite the number based on breaker/wire size been doing this since the 70's and it has been the same for all those years based on the code. If you think I am wrong post as a question and be prepared to get your eyes opened! – Ed Beal Sep 9 '16 at 22:39
  • @EdBeal, sorry, but you are wrong, and I guess have been since the 70's. Would you like the code section? – Speedy Petey Sep 9 '16 at 22:40
  • The last sentence in 220.14(I). – Speedy Petey Sep 9 '16 at 22:43

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