I believe that the intent of 210.11, C, 3 was to require all receptacle outlets in dwelling unit bathrooms to be supplied by at least one 20A circuit, but it seems that with the exclusion of the word "ALL" that this would also allow other receptacle outlets on 15A circuits to be installed in bathrooms.
Keeping this in mind, and if so, couldn't someone interpret this to say that the receptacle outlet required by 210.52, D within 3-feet of the outside edge of the sink wouldn't be required to be on a 20A circuit?
Seems that adding the word "All" would clarify this if indeed the intent were that all general-purpose receptacle outlets are to be on a 20A circuits. Was this an intentional omission to continue to allow fan/lights units with their internal receptacles to still be connected to 15A lighting circuits in these bathrooms?
First of all: vocabulary. While all receptacles are 'outlets,' not all outlets are 'receptacles.' Therefore, there is no reason to require the lighting to either be on a 20 amp circuit, or require bath lighting to be separate from other lighting circuits.
Likewise, 210.11 (C)(3) says 'at least one.' I see no reason why there could not be an additional circuit of 15 amps serving other receptacles, or outlets.
Why would one wish for another circuit? Well, my very own bathroom (circa 1940) has just such a separate circuit, to power a space heater. The other half of my duplex has removed the space heater ... and replaced it with a 15 amp receptacle. In both cases, the #14 wires are on 15 amp breakers. (Mine is a GFI )
That is my take on this code article as well, even though that may not be what the NEC was trying to convey. This has been a bur in my side since the ’05 code when I installed a 15A GFCI receptacle on a separate 15A circuit for a towel heater in a bathroom remodel and the inspector was adamant that it be on with the 20A circuit, citing 210.11,C, 3. I couldn’t see how it was a violation the way the article was worded, but for the sake of getting the job signed off, I changed it. Just wondering how others see this as I guess it is more a matter of perception.
#180953 - 09/17/0805:58 PMRe: All bath receptacles on 20A circuit?
Well, there's no denying that the NEC crossed over into 'design' with the bath issue. Look at the way it developed:
First, they wanted them GFI protected. Prior to this, bath receptacles were - if present at all - often tacked on to any convenient circuit. Remember the plugs in the bases of the lights?
Well, with the GFI requirement extended to bathrooms, the result was that bathrooms were now put on the same circuit as the laundry room - the first place to require a GFI. Anything to avoid buying another $10 device.
With the advent of pistol-grip hair dryers, curling irons, etc., in the '70's, it was decided to require the bathrooms to not only be on their own circuits - there were plenty of service calls inspired by searching for the GFI - as well as the requirement that the circuit be a 20 amp circuit.
(Prior to the '70's, a 'hair dryer' was something that today would make you think of a haz-mat suit ... a little suitcase with a hose, and a cap that fit over the top of the head. Or, something you sat in, and had a 'helmet' lowered over you.)
Still, the code allows multiple baths to be on the same circuit. As a result, a recent McMansion I worked on had the bath circuit zipping all over the place, just to serve all five of the baths, on three levels of the house. Personally, I'm not convinced that this was the best way to do things ... but it WAS code compliant.
I have one of those questionable circuits too. There are 2 20a circuits in my master bathroom. One hits my wife's side (3 times) and the fan ... OK The other hits my counter receptacle and the 1/4hp whole house fan. The inspector didn't figure it out and I didn't tell him. I am not sure I have plugged anything in there in 10 years. My wife has all 6 of hers full. I am getting ready to do the guest bath and I have the same question as Kjay. Do I have to abandon the existing 15a if I add a 20? (I'm not going to but I am curious)
Geez man, it's the 1,800 watt hair dryers that are causing this insanity. The manufacturers keep making them bigger and bigger. Next thing you know, they will be making 240 volt curling irons. I won't be surprised to be cruising the local store and to see 2,500 watt hair dryers sometime soon.
Yep, the NEC has changed from being a reference for safety, uniformity and compliance. They have now decided to dance to the tune of bath/kitchen designers and manufacturers of connected appliances. It is all about the bucks.