08:04AM | 09/26/02
Member Since: 09/25/02
2 lifetime posts
I have just recently moved into a new construction home. I have single run 15amp circuit running on 14gage wire. There are 26 items, including ceiling fan, lights, outlets, bathroom exhast fan, wall switches, dimmers and an external light over the back door.
I am having some issues with the lights dimming when I plug in an iron or hand drill. The florescent lights will shut off completely and restart if I plug in my shop vac.
Yes, this did pass an electrical inspection before we closed on the house.
Could someone tell me if this 15amp circuit has too many outlets, lights etc.? I would like to have the builder/electricians fix this if this isn't to code.

Tom O

12:02PM | 09/26/02
Member Since: 09/17/02
477 lifetime posts
Wall switches consume no power and dimmers very little, so they don't really have an effect on the problems you're having. Receptacles too do not consume any power, so they to don't really bear on this problem, though the equipment plugged into them may.

A house should have one 15 amp general purpose circuit for every 600 square feet. There is no limit to the number of outlets on that circuit. Since you haven't mentioned tripping the breaker, the circuit does not appear to be overloaded.

Your sole problem appears to be voltage drop. Voltage drop is a design consideration. The National Electrical Code does not deal with design considerations.

Unless Joe can come up with some code issues, you may want to contact a lawyer & discuss things like implied warranties, suitability, etc.

I've been through similar problems with the owner of a double-wide. When he plugged in a vacuum cleaner at the ****hest receptacle, it would really dim the lights. Unfortunately, there wasn't much that could be done for him either.


[This message has been edited by Tom O (edited September 26, 2002).]

Joe Tedesco

12:55PM | 09/26/02
Member Since: 07/27/02
140 lifetime posts
Tom O:

I agree, and I was thinking about the rule of thumb (once in the code) and I would have said one general purpose branch circuit for every 500 sq. ft.

If the work was done in Goodlettsville, TN, who was the plan checker and who inspected the work?

Was there an electrical inspector?

The voltage drop issue is correct for branch circuits and feeders, and always comes to mind when these problems arise. Today's dwelling should have more circuits for less space and even then the number of outlets in certain areas is never enough!

[This message has been edited by Joe Tedesco (edited September 26, 2002).]


06:43PM | 09/26/02
Member Since: 09/25/02
2 lifetime posts
Tom & Joe,
Thanks for the quick response. I didn't mention that the area is about 1600 square feet. I spoke with the electrical inspector today and he said it was an oversight on his part that he didn't catch the single 15 amp circuit for that entire area.
I have talked with the electrical contractors who installed the circuit intially and they are willing to come out and add another circuit to isolate the home theater equipment and another to help balance the load on the outlets and lights.

Tom O

12:28PM | 09/27/02
Member Since: 09/17/02
477 lifetime posts

Glad to hear that the contractor is going to make good on his errors. Always good to know there are still people with some integrity.

As for your inspector, if he is like most of them, he is being asked to look at far more work than he should. Unfortunately, he is at the bottom of the totem pole & can't do much about it. Joe has plenty of horror stories on this issue


Bill Addiss

05:19PM | 09/27/02
Member Since: 09/12/02
9 lifetime posts

Even if you only had 1 light on the same circuit that you plugged an Iron or Vacuum into you would probably see the light dim.

You should get in the habit of looking at labels on Electrical appliances. Things like Irons and Vacuum Cleaners are heavy consumers of Electricity. They would be better off being plugged into a heavier (20A) or a more lightly used circuit if you have one close by.


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