One of the most important decisions in house wiring is how to distribute electrical circuits throughout the space.
The question that often arises is whether it’s a good idea to wire outlets and lights on the same circuit. Like many things related to electrical wiring, the answer is “it depends.”
If you are making a temporary installation, merging outlets and lights on the same circuit is not a big deal. However, if you are making a permanent one, you should designate distinct circuits for your lights and outlets.
This article will examine the pros and cons of wiring outlets and lights on the same circuit and help you decide what suits your situation.
Is Wiring Outlets and Lights on the Same Circuit Against the Code?
The National Electric Code (NEC) prohibits wiring outlets and lights on the same circuit. The only instance such wiring is permitted is in the case of temporary installations.
NEC doesn’t encourage this practice for safety reasons, as it helps to avoid circuit failure and lowers the risk of electrical fires.
Before diving deeper, let’s first define what we mean by wiring outlets and lights on the same circuit.
A circuit is a complete and closed path through which electricity flows. The circuit’s electrical path starts at the circuit breaker and continues through the wires, into the outlets, light fixtures, and electrical devices, then back to the circuit breaker.
So when we say wiring outlets and lights on the same circuit, we mean connecting them to the same circuit so they can share the same electrical supply. Picture the network like a never-ending circle: whatever is wired in becomes part of that circle.
The Pros of Wiring Lights and Outlets on the Same Circuit
To begin with, the electrical installation will be easier and faster if you’re grouping outlets and lights on a single circuit. Instead of installing separate wiring for lights and outlets, electricians can run a single circuit for both, saving time and effort.
Another advantage of connecting outlets and lights on the same circuit is simplifying the electrical system. Instead of keeping note of numerous circuits, everything is combined and maintained into one circuit.
And finally, combining the two into a single line saves the household money! If outlets and lights are installed on distinct circuits, you will need to include more cables and circuit breakers, driving up the overall cost of your installation.
The Cons of Wiring Lights and Outlets on the Same Circuit
Wiring lamps and receptacles on the same circuit may be a more cost-effective and easy way to initially spread electricity throughout the house. However, the technique has major risks and disadvantages, which is why the NEC prohibits it.
Safety is the primary concern regarding wiring lights and outlets on the same circuit as a permanent electrical installation. If there’s an electrical issue on the circuit, it will impact all the circuit’s components, including the receptacles and lights, increasing the risk of electrical shock, electrical fire, damaged devices, destroyed wiring, or other hazards.
Another danger of wiring lights and outlets on the same circuit is the risk of overloading. When too many devices and lights draw power from the same circuit, it will overload and trip the breaker, burst a fuse, and possibly start a fire.
Inconvenience is another problem that may emerge from this practice. When an outlet is overloaded and trips the circuit breaker or bursts a fuse, it affects all lights on the same circuit. With a grouped setup, one overloaded circuit will affect many lights and outlets, causing a big hassle for homeowners.
Another drawback of connecting outlets and lights to the same circuit is that fixing a particular electric issue is more difficult. For example, if you’re having trouble with an outlet or a light fixture, you must try numerous components on the same circuit to pinpoint the problem, which can be time-consuming and irritating, especially if you are unfamiliar with electricity.
To reduce these dangers, the NEC code mandates wiring lights and outlets on distinct circuits. While this approach may require more cabling and higher initial costs, it can help ensure that each electrical component is correctly classified. With that, you’ll avoid the risks of overloading, damaged devices, burst fuses, and destroyed cables. Most importantly, it’ll save you from a hazardous electrical fire.
To summarize, is wiring outlets and lights on the same circuit a good idea? Yes, as long as the wiring of such a combination is for temporary purposes only.
So, you can wire lights and outlets on the same circuit in situations where a permanent installation is not practical or necessary, such as during construction or outdoor events. Doing so will save more money, time, and effort.
However, if you plan to make a permanent electrical installation for your home, the NEC code requires putting lights and outlets on separate circuits. Going against this code may result in overloaded circuits, damaged devices, blown fuses, and even an electrical fire, especially if too many devices and lights are turned on simultaneously.
Furthermore, if you have an electrical issue, for instance, if the circuit breaker continually trips when nothing is plugged in, you’ll find it harder to identify the underlying cause of the problem with different components wired on the same circuit.
So keep your lights and outlets on a single circuit if you need a temporary solution, and save the separate circuits for permanent installations only! And remember to consult with a licensed electrician for any electrical project you have planned.