A bathroom is a place that always has moisture and humidity, and it needs special attention about the electric circuits in this place.
Can a Bathroom Be On a 15 Amp Circuit? You can use a 15 amp circuit in a bathroom; however, NEC requires having a 20 amp circuit for wall-mounted and ceiling-mounted lighting, outlet receptacles, and vent fans with heat lamps. A 20 amp outlet circuit has more power, is expensive, and can power large appliances as compared to a 15amp outlet. A 20 amp circuit breaker can power a 15 amp and 20 amp outlet, while a 15 amp circuit breaker only powers a 15 amp outlet.
The existing older homes usually do not meet all the code requirements, but it is better to follow the code regulations if you are building a new home or changing the location of the bathroom.
Building regulations allow the old exiting homes to retain the old wiring configuration without adding a circuit that does not follow the code.
What are the electric code requirements for a bathroom?
Many electric circuits and their code regulation follow the National Electric Code regulations, which is an official committee of professional electricians and researchers that work to provide safe and efficient wiring codes according to the house interior.
NEC requires two separate circuits for the bathroom, such as a 20amp circuit used for the outlet plug-in appliances and a separate 15 or 20-amp for the lights and switches on the wall.
Lights are essential because you need them for various activities, such as makeup, shaving, and applying creams. They also enhance the appearance and decoration and warm up the atmosphere around you.
It is better to consult an electrician when installing more than two to three lights in this place because the circuit must bear the power consumption if there are more other connections, such as ventilation fans.
Ceiling mounted light fixtures
Ceiling-mounted light fixtures, such as light pendants and chandeliers, have become famous because they add a luxurious and stylish look to the place and complement the decoration.
The NEC allows at least one ceiling light fixture connected to the wall switch that can be mounted over the vanity or on the mirror sides to provide appropriate light in this area.
You can get help from the electrician if you want to mount a big chandelier with multiple lights because it may need another circuit, depending on the electricity it takes or the amperes the existing one can support without any damage.
You can use the single circuit from the shower area, vanity, and ceiling fixture light. Still, it is better to follow the building regulation and install a waterproof lens in the shower area to avoid any mishap.
According to NEC, the outlets in the bathroom must have a 20-amp circuit. In addition, they should be separate from other lighting circuits because the razors, hair dryers, hair rollers, and other appliances need adequate power to operate.
All these appliances require high power consumption; therefore, a 20 amp is safe and preferable to a 15 amp because it has less power. In addition, you can install more than one circuit in your place if you want to use multiple appliances.
It is better to install two or three outlets if you have a spacious bathroom, and you can use the accessible outlet receptacle when drying or curling your hair near the vanity. In addition, you can install it near the door to use the vacuum cleaner and plug in other devices.
A 20 amp circuit can serve the lighting and one vet fan, depending on the size and power consumption of the fan, but if you have a 15 amp, it can also serve the lighting in the bathroom.
A separate 20 amp is required if you have the vent fan with heat lamp because the 20 amp is the minimum for serving the lighting and heat lamp- vent fan combination on a single circuit.
According to NEC, the bathroom must have a vent fan to expel the moisture and smell out if you do not have enough space to install windows, but some local codes require having ventilation fans if you have windows in the bathroom.
The vent fan reduces the condensation in the walls and outlet receptacles circuit and keeps the inside atmosphere fresh and moisture-free.
Therefore, it is better to check the CMF of the exhaust fan that can work.
What is the difference between a 15amp and a 20amp outlet circuit?
Outlets circuits are essential parts of electric wiring because you can plug in different electrical cords of appliances. The most common types of outlets are 15-amp and 20-amp, which differ in the following aspects.
You can draw different powers from these two outlet circuits, such as approximately 1800W power can be drawn from a 15 amp outlet and 2400W power from a 20amp outlet.
Electricians recommend drawing approximately 80% of the power from the circuit than its capabilities, such as 1400-1445W from a 15 amp outlet and 1900-1925W from a 20amp outlet.
There is no specific difference in the physical appearance of these two outlets, and you can use any of them, depending on the power drawn.
It can save the wiring from fire and sparking when the input current varies, and it is essential to consider the type of circuit breaker that can be connected to the 15-amp and 20-amp outlets.
You can use a 20amp outlet and 15 amp outlet on a 20amp breaker, but a 15 amp breaker can only support a 15 amp outlet.
Therefore, it is better to plan the power consumption from each 20amp outlet before plug-in the different power appliance plugs.
Applications and cost
A 15 amp outlet can power different small and medium power devices and appliances, such as computers, TV, lamps, phone and laptop chargers, and other low-power devices.
It is safe to draw less than 80% power that the circuit and breaker can handle. In addition, it is less expensive than the 12mp outlet, and you can use less expensive wiring.
A 20amp outlet can power large devices and appliances, such as vacuum cleaners, dryers, clothing iron, hair curler and hairdryer, and other home appliances.
However, it is much more expensive than a 15 amp outlet and needs high-quality and costly wiring.
How can to avoid short circuits and electric shocks in a bathroom?
The building regulations and NEC requires having GFCI-protected outlets in the bathroom because of the damp environment.
It is better to have the outlet 3 feet horizontally from the shower area and 8 feet vertically from the bathtub to avoid water splashes and condensation inside the receptacles.
GFCIs are breakers that can shut down the current or power when it changes its range for input and output current.
They can prevent short circuits and fires in the wiring due to excessive and imbalanced current following.
They can save you from severe electric shocks and electrocution inside them because of the moisture and humidity.
Make sure to follow all the building codes and NEC regulations while building the home, and ask a professional electrician to help you out in this matter to decide where and what type of circuit wiring to install.
Some building codes require having AFCI-protected outlets, which can prevent the sparking that can cause the fire and provide protection to the entire circuit in this place.
In addition, it requires that all the switches at different locations in the bathroom be grounded to add more safety to electrical wiring.