Kitchen circuit confusion

ecrannyNovember 30, 2010

After reading a few posts here, I am now confused about the NEC small appliance circuit requirements. I thought I needed at least 2 20amp circuits to feed countertop receptacles, and that these could also be used for other recptacles in the adjacent dining room and the den/breakfast area - but no other outlets (lights, range etc)

I have read staments to the effect that any circuit supplying the countertop receptacles must be used ONLY for those receptacles (and not dining room etc).

Can anyone clarify this for me?


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Your original understanding as posted is correct.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2010 at 1:03PM
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Ron Natalie

All the countertop, wall, and refrigeration in the kitchen, dining, breakfast and pantry area have to be on these two (or more) 20A circuits that are shared with no other outlets.

That means no receptacles anywhere else (I don't know what you mean by den) on these circuits. That means no outlets of types other than receptacles (lighting, permanently connected stuff).

The only two exceptions are for a switched receptacle (presumably to treat these like lighting) and refrigeration. These can be on a different 15A or better circuit.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2010 at 1:36PM
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?! What in the... Where are you... WHAT?!

Okay, two 20A circuits for kitchen counters. Check. One 15A circuit for the fridge. Check. So since when am I not allowed to install two more 15A circuits for a disposal and dishwasher (both of which plug into receptacles), and another 20A circuit for non-countertop wall outlets? And I NEVER have other rooms - even a diningroom - on the kitchen circuits.

Seriously, this stuff about all the kitchen/dining etc having to be limited to those two 20A circuits - where did that come from? Is that a local code or have I honestly been missing something very important for many years?

    Bookmark   December 3, 2010 at 2:40PM
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pharkus - I don't think anybody suggested that you are not allowed to install individual circuits for disposal and dishwasher. In fact because they can NOT be on any of the small appliance circuits (even if you have more than 2 appliance circuits), you absolutely must install separate circuits. Also, I don't believe anyone suggested that you can have ONLY 2 small appliance circuits, but that is the minimum. As for how these small appliance circuits are used, that goes back to my original post, and the reason I was confused is because a number of people here have stated that there must be NO non-countertop receptacles in these circuits. However, my understanding was that these 20amp circuits that serve the countertop will also serve receptacles in the dinining room, breakfast bar area, family room, kitchen walls etc... but no lights, ranges, range hood, hard-wired appliances except a clock), but a refrigerator could be on one of these circuits (although an individual refrig circuit is probably better)

Am I completely wrong about this?

    Bookmark   December 3, 2010 at 3:08PM
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Ron Natalie

PHARK: Yes, you can do what you want with receptacles that are neither "wall" or "countertop" in that area. The under the sink for the dishwasher or disposal, or the one in the space for the microwave, etc... can be sized and shared as you wish.

I never said you only could have two circuits, you have to have at least two. But all the ones you use must be 20A and must not be used for other outlets other. Did you miss the "OR MORE" in my post (which is the same as what the code say)?

You can share the small appliance circuit with the dining room, or an additional circuits in for the dining room. But note! The dining room plays by the same rule. You must be using 20A circuit that has no other outlets (other than dining/kitchen/breakfast/pantry area receptacles).

CRANNY: Yes, you sort of lump the coutnertop and the wall receptacles of all these rooms (kitchen, pantry, dining, breakfast) together in the requirements. The minimum you can get away with is 2 20A circuits and spread all the receptacles on those two. Or you can put several in each room.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2010 at 4:02PM
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I misinterpreted the opening statement of ronnatalie's post.

Actually it still confuses me, but as long as we're all on the same page and reading from the same code book here, I guess it doesn't matter how confused I am :)

    Bookmark   December 3, 2010 at 6:39PM
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Confusing, yes. So the fridge and dishwasher don't have to be dedicated circuits?

    Bookmark   December 5, 2010 at 12:01PM
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Ron Natalie

You have to check the installation instructions of the appliance. If the appliance says it requires a dedicated circuit, it does. Otherwise nothing in the code mandates anything special for the refrigerator (in fact, the fridge gets an exception as noted above) or dishwasher.

Of course, most specs only "recommend" things, but if you're doing electrical work, why not do it as the manufacturer expects?

    Bookmark   December 5, 2010 at 12:10PM
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