Convention for circuit assignment?

pharkusAugust 8, 2010

Three-story house, the first floor is already worked out. Second and third floors are just bedrooms - two bedrooms per floor, and a bathroom - but the bathroom is also figured out already.

I have some intense OCD about circuit assignment, making sure the layout and labeling makes sense, grouping like things together (ie, all circuits containing primarily lights are next to each other, that sort of thing).

The apartment complex I grew up in has one breaker per room. I liked that.

I did a house with four circuits for five bedrooms. All four circuits appeared in all five bedrooms. I drew a continuous line from one receptacle to another (on paper), and assigned every fourth one to a circuit. Impossible to black out a whole room by tripping a single breaker.

I'm guessing, before modifications were made and things were tacked on "wherever", the house I'm working on had one circuit for the second floor and one for the third. It's kinda hard to be sure of this, since the original wiring is all knob&tube and the new stuff is ... not.(every type of wire/cable that has ever been used for indoor residential wiring in the USA, this house has some of) A definite idea of what "the last guy" was thinking would be impossible.

Three very different ideas, is there a recommended practice? I'd be interested in hearing others' habits regarding this.

One thing I DON'T like is having every receptalce just wired to whatever circuit was already in the area.

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The house I grew up in was wired such that all the receptacles on the outside walls of the living room and 2 bedrooms were on one 15A circuit. Worked great in 1950, when lamps and one TV were about the only things plugged in, but not so great in 1985, when 3 window air conditioners were installed.
Unless NEC provisions or common sense dictates more, I like the idea of one 20A receptacle circuit per room, with lighting on a different circuit. Of course, there is no such thing as too many circuits, within the realm of affordability.
In larger homes, I am an advocate of using subpanels on upper floors. It often beats running 8-10 or more homeruns to the basement, but there may or may not be a cost savings.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 9:28AM
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