National Electrical Installation Standards

Standards as High as Your Own

Monday, August 27, 2018


Re: CQD answer published Thursday, August 16, 2018 -Bathroom Circuits/Receptacles

1) No, Paul H

2) Congratulations, you have failed to answer the question. The 2017 NFPA 70 does not prohibit additional receptacles to be installed on additional 15 amp 120 volt circuits provided there is a receptacle fed from a 20 amp bathroom receptacle circuit in the bathroom. Class A GFCI protection is still mandated. Cordially, Bill Nolte, C.S.H.O.

3) I don't believe that answers Barry's question on whether ALL receptacles must be 20A in the bathroom or can you have 15A receptacles in the bathroom. Jeff Bower

4) Hi Charlie: This is a good question and in all fairness, I don’t think it was answered fully.  Barry states that he has met all the code requirements as you state but I don’t think that is the question. The question I believe is for an additional 15A circuit in a bathroom with devices like lighting receptacles. I can see Barry’s concern as today we are seeing much larger bathrooms (per code definition IE contained Basin & toilet) that include maybe a large dressing area or larger floor storage area.  My next door neighbor has a bathroom larger than her bedrooms.  I think the problem is with the wording ”At least one 20 ampere branch circuit”. It doesn’t say “No other circuits”! and I think that’s what Barry is asking. As a further example and to really muck things up we could add laundry equipment to the bathroom which is also becoming a norm. Perhaps we need a whole new room definition (LaundBath) with all new rules? My question: Does anyone know the logic behind the 20A, GFCI, 3 foot to basin article?  I always assumed (bad to assume) it was because of high draw devices like a hairdryer. My wife blows that theory to bits by drying her hair in a bedroom so why do I need a separate circuit in the bath and not the bedroom with similar rules? Thanks, John Richardson

5) The answer published on August 16, 2018 did not address the question. The issue raised was whether a second bathroom receptacle in a dwelling unit can be supplied by a 15 amp circuit, if you have already complied with the requirement to install “at least one” 20 amp circuit to “supply the bathroom(s) receptacle outlet(s).” The answer did not address the “15 amp circuit.” My answer would be that the code is not as clear as one could wish, as it does not explicitly state that ALL bathroom receptacles must be fed by 20 amp circuits.  But I believe we can infer, from the existing wording, that that is the requirement. It says to provide at least one 20 amp circuit to supply THE bathroom receptacles. It would have been clearer if it said “ALL THE.” But it also does not say “the REQUIRED” outlets.  If it had, that would have opened the door to allowing the "not required, extra" receptacles to be fed from a 15 amp circuit. Regards, Charlie Beck



Thanks for all of your comments

1). Yes

2) Thanks, Cordially, you are correct, additional 15 ampere circuits can be installed in bathrooms and 15 ampere receptacles can be installed on 20 ampere branch circuits as stated in 210.21(B)(3).

3) The receptacles do not have to be 20 ampere rated.

4) See Number 2 answer. The 20 ampere rule for bathroom circuits is because of the high wattage personal grooming appliances. The NEC does not prohibit plugging hair dryers into bedroom receptacles on 15 ampere branch circuits so you wife is not breaking the rules. If the bedroom circuit becomes overloaded and causes the overcurrent device to operate the next time she might dry her hair in the bathroom.

5) See Number 2 answer.

ABOUT CQD: NECA’s Code Question of the Day (CQD) is a leading National Electrical Code® forum for NECA and the industry. The CQD generates a lively dialogue and relative practical and Code-based responses to an ever-increasing and interactive audience.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: All answers are based on the latest edition of the National Electrical Code®, unless the question requests a response based on a specific edition. This correspondence is not a formal interpretation of the NEC®. Any responses expressed to the questions are opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of NECA, NFPA, or any technical committee. In addition, this correspondence is neither intended, nor should it be relied upon, to provide professional consultation or services.

ABOUT CHARLIE: Charles M. Trout, better known as Charlie, was a nationally known NEC® expert and author. He served on several NEC® technical committees and is past chairman of CMP-12. In 2006 Charlie was awarded the prestigious Coggeshall Award for outstanding contributions to the electrical contracting industry, codes and standards development, and technical training. Charlie was also a member of NECA’s Academy of Electrical Contracting. Charlie’s experienced team of industry experts keep the CQD dialogue and discussions active and informative in the spirit of the man himself, as he wanted.

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