Households are wired with 120 Volts circuits which carry 15 amps and 20 amps. Most outlets in U.S homes are 15 amps because receptacles of 15 amps can be used with 20 amp circuits. But, can a bathroom be on a 15 amp circuit?
Bathrooms can use 15 or 20 amp circuits, but the National Electrical Code (NEC) recommends 20 amp circuits, especially if the circuits power a fan vent with a heater or a heat lamp. Larger appliances or fixtures in the bathroom, like a whirlpool tub, should be powered by dedicated circuits.
Wiring and electrical services in homes are done following codes set by local building inspections offices. The wiring requirements for different rooms differ because electrical appliances use different amounts of power to run.
The amperage code for the living room is different from the requirements of the kitchen and bathroom. If you are not an electrician by profession, you might not know the current wiring installation requirements.
However, as a homeowner, you must be aware of the requirements and ensure that you are working with an electrician who understands and pays attention.
If you are ignorant about the issue, the wiring will not be done right, and you will be risking fire in your house.
Larger fixtures require their own circuit because they draw more than 15 amps from the power outlets. You cannot plug in an appliance that draws 20 amp on a 15 amps outlet because it will overload, generate excess heat, melt the wires and cause a fire.
Other than safety measures, the codes have become more exact and strict as the years go by to meet the increasing energy demands.
The electrical requirements are set by the National Electrical Code (NEC), and they are revised after three years. The changes made are minimal or sometimes no changes, but it is always safe to check and adhere to the latest codes for home wiring installations when working on a new bathroom.
What’s more, you must be aware of the wiring code requirements in your local area. The local codes may rhyme with the NEC requirements but not all the time. Sometimes the local codes are more relaxed than the national codes, which works for your benefit.
Bathroom Wiring In Old Houses
As stated above, the wiring codes are updated after every three years. Therefore, if you live in an old house, do not be surprised to find out that the bathroom wiring does not meet the current requirements.
The good news is that homeowners are allowed to remodel or renovate the old bathroom without changing the old wiring, although some changes are mandatory.
To get the wiring codes right during renovation, ensure that you are working with a professional electrician. They understand the current bathroom wiring codes and the mandatory changes to be done on old wiring.
If you love DIY but are not a professional electrician, visit the buildings and inspection offices in your local for guidance.
If you plan to put your house on sale, it is advisable to carry out major remodeling on your bathroom and bring it up to code to make it appealing to the buyers. What’s more, you are safer with your bathroom wiring up to date.
How Many Circuits Are Required For A Bathroom?
The latest NEC bathroom wiring code states that, bathrooms should have at least two dedicated circuits.
It is wrong to assume that the bathroom is a small room whose electrical needs can be served by circuit extension from another room.
The must-have circuits include:
- A 20 amp circuit to be used for all plugin appliances. The receptacles must have circuit breakers or individual receptacles protecting the circuit against overload and possible dangers.
- Wall switches and lighting fixtures should have their circuit rated 15-20 amps, with 15 amp as the minimum. However, the circuit should be 20 amps if it serves a heat lamp or a fan vent with an inbuilt heater or blower.
- An additional circuit is required for bathrooms with large fixtures and appliances like whirlpool bathtubs.
The NEC guidelines require that bathroom circuits not serve another room, but local wiring requirements might allow it. Therefore, always check and work with the local wiring guidelines. They are sometimes a bit relaxed and work better for your pockets and offer you safety at the same time.
Like any other room in your house, the bathroom requires lighting. According to the NEC bathroom lighting codes, the bathroom must have at least one permanent lighting fixture.
Depending on your preferences and budget, the lighting fixture can be installed on the ceiling, purchase a fan with a lighting fixture or install a vanity area light.
Homeowners do not struggle with bathroom lighting (View on Amazon). Some bathrooms have up to three lighting fixtures installed; a ceiling fixture, a fan vent with integrated lighting, and vanity lighting.
If you decide to add lighting in the shower, ensure that it has waterproof lenses for safety.
Bathroom Outlet Receptacles
According to the NEC codes, bathrooms should have at least one 20 amp protected receptacle. Some bathrooms have up to 4 outlet receptacles.
What’s more, the positioning of the power outlets is critical as well. They should be installed 6 feet away from the shower and bathtub and about 1 foot away from the water sinks.
Lastly, it is essential to have a general outlet near the door to plug in general appliances like a vacuum cleaner. However, this depends on the size of your bathroom. For people with a makeup table space, this is an excellent spot to have the general outlet fixed.
Exhaust Fan Vent
A bathroom must have a venting system to get rid of moisture that, if left to accumulate, causes the growth of mold and mildew in the bathroom. An open bathroom window can serve this purpose, but electric vents are the most effective.
The best bathroom fan vent (View on Amazon) for your bathroom depends on the size of your bathroom. It should be able to remove all the moisture and displace it outside.
Before buying a fan vent for your bathroom, make sure to consult with the local requirements. Some require you to run the vent independently, while others dictate that it should be integrated with the lighting.
What’s more, some venting appliances come with integrated lighting, heat lamp, and blower. Depending on the energy requirements of such fixtures, it can share the lighting circuit or require its circuit.
FAQs On Can A Bathroom Be On A 15 Amp Circuit?
1. How Many Amps Is A Bathroom Circuit?
Bathroom should have circuits of 15 amps to 20 amps; 15amps for the lighting and 20 amps for the outlet receptacles. Also, all the receptacles must be protected with circuit breakers in case of an overload.
2. How Many Circuits Should A Bathroom Have?
A bathroom should have at least two circuits at a minimum of 15 amps. These circuits include a 20 amps circuit for plugin appliances, a 15 amps circuit on the minimum for lighting, and an extra circuit for large bathroom appliances and fixtures.
3. Can Two Bathrooms Be On The Same 20 Amp Circuit?
The NEC regulations require that bathrooms should operate on individual circuits. This is to means that a single circuit cannot be shared between bathrooms. However, some local wiring codes allow for bathrooms to share a 20 amps circuit, as long as nothing else depends on that circuit.
4. Can Bathroom Lights And Outlets Be On Same Circuit?
Yes, the same circuit can serve the outlets and lighting of a bathroom, provided that there are no large appliances, heaters, or fan vents with inbuilt heaters depending on the same circuit. Also, in this case, the circuit should only serve one bathroom alone.
Wiring requirements for the bathroom are precise because of the presence of water. A simple mistake can easily cause a fire.
5. Does A Bathroom Fan Need To Be On Its Circuit?
A regular fan vent can share the lighting circuit. However, fan vents with inbuilt heaters require a dedicated 20 amps circuit. Bathroom fixtures like heaters, heat lamps, and built-in heaters require dedicated circuits to prevent circuit overload because they draw in a lot of energy.
6. What Kind Of Breaker Do I Need For A Bathroom?
The size of the circuit breaker depends on the size of the circuit used in your bathroom. For 15 amp circuits, a 15 amp circuit breaker is required for appliances that draw in more than 15 amps, while a 20 amp circuit and require a 20 amp circuit breaker.
All bathroom outlet receptacles must be protected with circuit breakers to prevent circuit overloads that might cause fire.
7. What Happens If I Use A 15 Amp Outlet On A 20 Amp Circuit?
If you use an appliance that draws 20 amps on a 15 amps outlet, you subscribe for a circuit overload. Also, a 20 amp plug cannot fit in a 15 amp outlet; therefore, you must have forced it to plugin.
Using a 20 amp appliance on a 15 amp outlet forces the outlet to offer more current than its rating. This results in the generation of excess heat, which burns the wires and eventually causes a fire.
Conclusion, So, Can A Bathroom Be On A 15 Amp Circuit?
According to NEC bathroom wiring regulations, a bathroom should have at least two 20 amps circuits. But it can also have 15 amp circuits to serve appliances like lighting fixtures that draw 15 amps or less.