The Electrical Circuits Needed When Remodeling a Kitchen

Must-Have Kitchen Circuits

modern kitchen
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Kitchen remodeling can not only improve the look of your home, by upgrading the electrical circuits you can increase the value. As you may be well aware of, older homes and their wiring systems were not set up for all of the modern conveniences that we enjoy these days. You know the type of homes I'm talking about, an outlet here and there. Have you ever seen a GFCI outlet in one of these older homes? I doubt it! That's what is nice about a remodeling project, you can make your home brand new and up to code.​

There are at least seven circuits that are needed in a kitchen and that is the minimum, but by no means the only, circuits you may want to add for your convenience. There is a 15-amp basic lighting circuit, two 20-amp small appliance circuits, and five dedicated circuits for specific appliances. A good rule of thumb is that if an appliance has a motor, it needs its own circuit.

Basic Lighting Circuit

A 15-amp, 120-volt circuit powers the ceiling fixtures, recessed can lights, and task lighting in the room. Lighting circuits can be run with 14-2 and 14-3 electrical wire. Depending on what the total wattage of the combined lighting connected to the circuit, the 15-amp circuit should be sufficient to control the lighting within the room.

Refrigerator Circuit

Refrigerators have gotten larger and larger as we Americans seem to eat more and more. Now we have refrigerators with built-in ice makers and water/ice dispensers built right in the door. These massive glorified ice boxes can really use a lot of power. Even more, the physical size has gotten so large that you will likely have to take the doors off of the refrigerator to get it into your home. This circuit should be a dedicated 20-amp, 120-volt circuit to power your refrigerator to ensure that there is no other electrical load on this circuit.

Range Circuit

Electric range circuits are needed to power the cooking area of your new kitchen. This 50-amp, 240-volt dedicated circuit supplies the power to the range/oven through a 6-3 electrical wire. Ranges have a special cord that plugs into a special range outlet. Often, people confuse the electric range and electric dryer outlet. Be certain that you choose the correct outlet and cord.

Microwave Circuit

Microwaves too have gotten larger over the years and have demanded more and more power due to their amount of wattage use. It is quite common to have 1,200-watt draws from these appliances. They require a dedicated 20-amp, 120-volt circuit, wired with 12-2 cable with a ground. This circuit is often shared with the gas stove outlet. The minimal draw from the gas stove shouldn't overload the total safe amperage in combination with the microwave.

Food Disposer

The food disposer makes quick cleanup of the garbage left over on your plates. It too is relatively new to the kitchen area. This appliance requires a separate 15-amp, 120-volt circuit and is wired with 14-2 cable. In some instances, check your local codes, the disposal and dishwasher may share a circuit, but my suggestion is to have a separate circuit for each.

Dishwasher Circuit

The dishwasher circuit is also a 15-amp, 120-volt circuit and is wired with 14-2 cable. New codes often require dishwashers to be on a ground fault circuit interrupter. As you know, in the olden days, the dishwasher stood in front of the sink and washed by hand.

Small Appliance Circuits

Small appliance circuits are those that supply, well, small portable appliances. These may include toasters, waffle irons, coffee pots, electric griddles, popcorn machines, can openers, blenders, juicers, crock pots, etc. There must be at least two dedicated circuits for these countertops and eating area outlets. Remember, the countertop outlets should not be farther than four feet apart. There is a minimum of two 20-amp, GCFI protected 120-volt dedicated circuits, wired with 12-2 and/or 12-3 cable.