Wiring under cabinet lighting

workhurtsJanuary 13, 2010

Can I tap into the fridge for my power for my under cabinet lights? If so, and the fridge is on a 20amp circuit I would then use 12g instead of 14g to wire the lights.

I was originally going to use one of the kitchen/counter small appliance receptacles but figured that was against code.

However, I've read a couple of instances regarding this being against code to wire lights to it but I'm not sure why the distinction would be lights if the proper gauge wire were used. Could you still wire a receptacle to it for a plug-in microwave? Or would the microwave be on a different circuit? This last last paragraph is a curiousity question more than anything else. Our home had the option of having a microwave in cabinet instead of with the stove as it is now so I'm guessing one more outlet would have been installed. If code says I can't tap into the counter outlets then I would guess that the microwave would have had to be connected to some other circuit.

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Ron Natalie

It's no more legal to tap into the refrigerator receptacle than any others for lighting purposes. If the refrigerator circuit is 20A (i.e., is one of the small appliance circuits), then you can feed other kitchen receptacles (like for a microwave) with it. You can also feed a receptacle for a microwave from the small appliance circuit serving the countertops.

The code specifically says "2 or more 20A circuits shall serve all [receptacles] and NO other outlets."

    Bookmark   January 14, 2010 at 7:50AM
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workhurts

Hrmm. Are you saying all 20 amp circuits in a kitchen area cannot be tapped for lighting? Regardless of whether or not these circuits are the two specifically designed for the counter?

If a fridge is on it's own circuit, separate from the two dedicated 20 amp circuits than it cannot be used? Ok, well I'm back to square one because I really don't get that one.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2010 at 10:06AM
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Ron Natalie

All the receptacle circuits (with small exception) in the kitchen are not allowed to have lighting connected to them.
You can't use the fridge circuit either.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2010 at 3:14PM
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btharmy

Is your stove gas or electric. If gas then 210.52.b.2 exeption#2 allows using the 120v. cir serving the gas stove to be used for "other outlets". Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2010 at 4:59PM
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btharmy

Strike that last post. It is allowing the small appliance circuit to supply the stove not the stove recept to supply other outlets. Sorry for the confusion.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2010 at 5:12PM
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scottys

Are you wiring these yourself or going to hire a licensed electrician? If you are doing it yourself and do not need an after job inspection by the town, then don't worry what the code says. Undercounter lighting, especially if it is flourescent,is not a major "power hog" and will not overload a refrigerator outlet. Today's refrigerators use a fraction of the power than those of say 15 years ago. You said the outlet happens to be #12 (20 amp) and so much the better. With the refrigerator running and all undercounter lights on, you will in no way be even close to using the safe 80% of the power in that circuit which is about 1900 watts. I'm not advocating ignoring the code in every instance but in this case I'd personally make an exception.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2010 at 11:14PM
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DavidR

Scotty, it's up to you, but I would never say in any public place that anyone should disregard (or "make a personal exception to," if you will) the code.

Will WH get nailed by an inspector when it's time to sell the house? Pretty unlikely, but it could still come back to bite him.

WH, I say pull the permit, follow the code, and you'll be able to sleep well knowing you did the job right and you did it like a pro.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 9:22PM
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Billl

You should always do the job right whether anyone is looking or not.

Besides personal satisfaction, there is a large element of self preservation. In the event of a catastrophe (like a house fire) DIY code-violating electrical "upgrades" would be enough for your insurance company to void your policy.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 9:19AM
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brickeyee

"...DIY code-violating electrical "upgrades" would be enough for your insurance company to void your policy."

Not in any policy I have ever seen.

You are insured against your own mistakes.

The insurance company is trying to hang a fire on someone with deep pockets, like an electrician.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 10:17AM
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Billl

I don't know what kind of insurance you have, but virtually no insurance policy is required to cover losses you cause while violating laws. eg if someone trips and falls on your steps, you are covered. If you assault someone and push them down the steps, good luck filing a claim for that. If you are running a meth lab and blow up the kitchen, you are on your own. If you skip all the permits and violate electrical codes and end up burning your house down, well...... An insurance policy is a contract. If you violate any terms of the contract, you put yourself at great risk.

As for hanging the fire on someone with "deep pockets" insurance companies don't really care who pays - as long as it isn't them. As far as they are concerned, it is fine if the house never gets repaired at all. They won't be the ones out in the street.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 11:15AM
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kitchenguidebook_gmail_com

I agree with Scottys, any way some inspectors, if sweet talked, allow a appliance circuit tap if there simply is no way to get to a lighting circuit, and running a home run just for your under cabinet lights is ridiculous. All those corded retro fit undercabs are pluged into the appliance circuit and nobody says anything about that.

Here is a link that might be useful: Under Cabinet Lights Sale

    Bookmark   April 9, 2011 at 8:03PM
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brickeyee

"All those corded retro fit undercabs are pluged into the appliance circuit and nobody says anything about that."

they are cord and plug connected, and though permanently installed, not permanentyl connected.

That and the AHJ rarely sees the job AFTER the under-cabinets are installed.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 1:28PM
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