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Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
Cat Servant
I am in the midst of a complete, to-the-frame remodel of a house. As part of this, I have to design the new kitchen. This made me wonder: What, exactly, are the loads we expect to have in a kitchen? How much power do they really draw?

Now, we can't look at nameplates, because we don't have access to them. Nor can we be 'sure' about which everyday appliance will be set where on the counter.

Code requires at least two "small appliance branch circuits" of 20-amp capacity to serve the kitchen and dining areas. Code is silent as to how those circuits will be distributed.

One common approach - to 'split' receptacles and have each half served by a different circuit - has gone by the wayside. Not only are we now required to have the two circuits turn off together, there's no such thing as a 2-pole AFCI/GFCI breaker. Try bringing two separate feeds into a box, and confusion reigns.

My own planned kitchen will have two counters, flanking an aisle. I COULD just run one circuit to each counter ... but does that make good design sense? What about the microwave?

Well, I needed data. What, I wondered, do my existing counter-top appliances really draw?

Let me introduce the Kill-A-Watt. This tool lets you monitor an appliance as it operates; simply plug the appliance into the Kill-A-Watt, and the meter into the receptacle.

I used this tool to get my readings as I used the appliances normally.

Here's a table of the appliances tested, and the readings:
Microwave: 15A

Toaster-oven: 10A

Kettle: 12A
Mr. Coffee: 5A

Foreman grill: 6A
Griddle: 11A
Skillet: 12A

Deep Fryer: 10A
Rice cooker: 2A

Compact Fridge: 1A

There it is. Let the discussion begin!

Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 613
I have never split fed a duplex receptacle. I would have adjacent receptacles on opposite circuits.

1 ckt- ref
1 ckt- DW
1 ckt- pig
1 ckt- Radar Range
2 ckts- counter recept including dining room recpt

Never had any problems.

Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 7,279
Likes: 3
My kitchen from 2011 redo:

DW on 20 amp dedicated
Micro on 20 amp dedicated
Three (3) 20 amp S/A counter circuits
One 20 amp ref circuit.
One 20 amp for dining area
One 15 amp lighting circuit; under cab. LEDs; sink pendant (60 watt+/-); 2x2 cloud fluorescent

My wifes collection of small appliances:
Kurieg Coffee
Cusinart Coffee Brewer
Toaster oven.
Toaster (4 slicer)
Crock pots
Counter TV & FiOSbox
Cordless phone base.

I don't want to hear "the breaker tripped'!!

The design choices IMHO are 'unique' to each job, and in most cases it revolves around $$$$$. Being that the above is my kitchen, that's what I decided to do.

Most of the McMansions I inspect have more than NEC minimum circuitry in the kitchens (S/A circuits). Then you add the 'toys', and 12or more kitchen circuits are not unusual.

Again, please note that I have no issues with the layout shortcircuit listed; it's compliant.

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,662
Likes: 4
My kitchen is "illegal"
I added two 20a small appliance circuits to the one that was there but the fridge is still on with the bathroom light and fan and there is a circuit at the end of the peninsula on a general lighting circuit (but that is arguably in the living room) wink
The hood is on the circuit with the ceiling light and the over sink light along with the motion lights.
We have a microwave, toaster oven, coffee maker, can opener and a toaster.
I have plenty of receptacles on those circuits.

Greg Fretwell
Joined: Apr 2015
Posts: 3
New Member
If you are concerned then pull more than two circuits. Configure them so no adjacent receptacle (pigtailed GFI) is on the same circuit. EX> Left to right CKT 1, CKT 3, CKT 5, CKT 7 or some such thing. Since its a custom just overkill in the kitchen/dining area. This way, NO MATTER WHAT appliances you get there will be tons of watts (2400 per 120V 20A CKT).

Last edited by electure; 05/01/15 09:00 AM. Reason: To correct math
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 7,279
Likes: 3
The 'design' is not related to the 'code' minimum number of SA circuits within a kitchen.

Designers, homeowners, and electrical contractors are 'free' to install more than the 'code' minimum.

A twist on this is the required 120/20 amp circuit for the bathroom receptacles. All bath recepts can be on that one circuit, providing they are the only thing on that circuit. IMHO, having a GFCI recept in a first floor powder room, and feeding all the other bath recept's is a very poor 'design' but it is 'code.

Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
Cat Servant
Let's not be silly- or flippant!

"Good design" is just that - a design that lets the customer "forget" about the electrical system, provides for safety, and isn't wasteful.

I've said it before: A "good" design meets code, while a "code minimum" design is almost always poor design- and often doesn't meet code!

I once built a convenience store. Confronted with a grossly inadequate - but legal and city approved- design, I didn't just 'do it.' No, I saw to it that the end customer was happy. Result? A very enthusiastic customer.

I started this thread to provide some actual figures for modern appliances. One cannot design without having the relevant information.

My data showed two big changes in appliances over the years:

First, that the refrigerator doesn't draw nearly as much power as it once did. Efficiencies have improved to the point that a dedicated 20-amp circuit is wasteful to the point that it might even be considered a code violation.

Also, the microwave drew a full circuit's worth of power whenever it ran. Enough so that it does warrant it's own circuit- no matter what the code says.

Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 7,279
Likes: 3

"I've said it before: A "good" design meets code, while a "code minimum" design is almost always poor design- and often doesn't meet code!"

My friend, could you please explain how a 'code minimum' design could possibly not meet code.

You also mention.....

"....that a dedicated 20-amp circuit is wasteful to the point that it might even be considered a code violation."

Yes, the current generation of refrigerators are efficient, but I cannot grasp how a dedicated 120/20 circuit could be considered a 'code violation'?

Let the debate begin......
Let the forum awaken.......

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,662
Likes: 4
Not to be pedantic but the "dedicated" circuit for a fridge is 15a, otherwise it can be on a SA circuit.
That is also true of the microwave (SA circuit) if it is not permanently mounted.
I doubt many actually pull much more than a toaster anyway.

The 2 SA circuits in my kitchen that I pulled make me legal but there are also 3 15a circuits that were existing and have other outlets. In 1963 I doubt they had a code issue with that.
I am still not sure I have them all mapped but I know one is shared with the bathroom light on the opposite wall. It was also feeding the counter but I fixed that very early in my residence here because hair dryers were taking out the fridge. Now it is just the vanity light, fridge and a battery emergency light charger in the hall.

Greg Fretwell
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
Cat Servant
"I doubt many actually pull much more than a toaster anyway."

THAT's why I measured actual appliances.

1000W micro: Just over 15 amps (I rounded down).

2-slice toaster: 6 amps

A 20-amp circuit with only one receptacle needs a 20-amp pattern device. This is misleading, as a) a duplex receptacle counts as 'more than one,' and because 20-amp receptacles typically have T-shaped slots, that will accept 15-amp plugs.

You can't have good design when you have bad data.

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