How Many Circuits For Kitchen

The kitchen is one vital aspect of the home that needs proper planning and decision-making. You have to think and decide on the type of floor surface, cabinets, countertops, functionalities, and even down on electrical wiring in the kitchen.

The kitchen consumes more electricity than anywhere in the home; as such, an adequate number of circuits are needed for proper wiring. So how many circuits are for kitchen?

The kitchen needs seven circuits for proper functioning and balancing in a standard kitchen.

Areas of Electricity Wiring in the Kitchen

1. Kitchen Wiring For Lighting

The entire lighting is supplied by the general lighting circuit in the kitchen. So in the plan, there should be a provision for a circuit with at least one switch-controlled light placed at the room’s entrance.

If you want adequate light to light up the cooking area, including canister lights, under-cabinet light, and ceiling fixtures, you need a 15-amp, 120/125-volt dedicated circuit is necessary to

It is advised that you install a 20-amp circuit for the general lighting in the kitchen to cover up for future needs.  Additionally, controlling the light is essential, so switches should be used to control the electricity.

Additionally, AFCI protection is required for protecting all lighting circuits in the kitchen. While for circuits that supply electricity to the kitchen fixtures, the GFCI protection can be used for them.

Types of lightning in the kitchen

Pendant lights: This lighting is best for decorating the dining table or countertop. Placing it in the center of the dining table or counterparts gives it that beautiful appearance. In fixing it, do remember to adjust the height.

Area lighting: Area lighting provides general illumination of a given concentrated area. For example, lighting can be used if you want specific light on areas such as the primary cooking areas and the sink areas.  

Ambient light: The ambient light, which is the general lightening, is provided by ceiling-mounted fixtures. It would help if you LED recessed lighting fixtures for adequate and effective dispersing of this light. Also, surface-mounted incandescent fixtures can do well.

Accent lights: This lighting is used to attract attention to a particular object, such as a collection of fine nature-designed ceramic plates.

Cove lighting: The cove lighting is adequate for creating a halo effect in the kitchen. You can mount it on the top of the wall cabinets.

2. Kitchen Wiring For Small Appliances

The standard kitchen wiring plan includes two 20-amp small appliance circuits that serve all countertop receptacles and most of the wall receptacles.

For small appliances like toasters, coffee pots, blenders, electric grills, etc., you need a minimum of two 20-amp, 120/125-volt circuits. You can install more if you so desire. But this is the minimum.

Additionally, ensure that the circuits powering plug-in receptacles for countertop appliances are well covered in the GFCI and AFCI protection.

3. Kitchen Wiring For Receptacles

For wiring kitchen receptacles, you need two circuits for countertop receptacles in a standard kitchen. In some states, you will need to have  20-amp alternating circuits for receptacles wiring, and they must be with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). In essence, check your local code.

When it comes to wiring the receptacles, NEC has outlined several requirements which must be obeyed, and they are:

  • The countertop spaces of the receptacles must be of 12 inches and more.
  • Receptacles should not be mounted more than 20 inches above countertops and face up.
  • All kitchen countertop receptacles must be GFCI.
  • The 2014 National Electrical Code extended in 2017 revision recommend that AFCI protection should be used.

4. Kitchen Wiring For Large Appliances

Large appliances are known for their massive consumption of electricity in the kitchen. As such, NEC opts for dedicated wiring and circuits for large appliances such as electric range, cooktop, or oven, and possibly the garbage disposer and the dishwasher.

Circuits for Large Appliances in the Kitchen

1. The Refrigerator Circuit

A standard refrigerator needs a 20-amp, 120/125-volt circuit. Also, a 12/2 wire with a ground is required for this circuit and is effective for the wiring.

Also, AFCI protection is required.

2. The Refrigerator Electric Range Circuit

A standard refrigerator electric range circuit requires a 240/250-volt, 50-amp circuit. So, you need to install a 6/3 NM cable to feed the range. A 120/125-volt receptacle provides the gas range to power up the vent hood and range control.

This refrigerator range circuit not only performs its primary function but also increases the resale value of your home. It should be pushed back to the wall in positioning the electric range. That’s the correct way.

Also, new home constructions require 50-amp range circuits. However, some require as large as 60 amps and even smaller units such as 40-amps or as little as 30-amps.

3. The Garbage Disposal Circuit

For a Garbage disposal circuit, a 20 amp circuit with a ground is required for the appliance.

However, you can combine the garbage disposal with a dishwasher under one circuit. Although, the final say on this.

The local rules also influence the GFCI and AFCI protection. However, combining both protections is a good choice, but the limitation here is that the GFCI is sometimes susceptible to “phantom tripping” due to motor start-up surges, which may not be required in most regions.

4. The Microwave Oven Circuit

The Microwave oven needs a 20-amp, 120/125-volt circuit, with 12/2 NM wire with a ground.

Microwaves come in different makes and types. Some are mounted at the countertop, while others are under the cabinet.  Larger microwaves draw as much as 1500 watts, demanding a separate dedicated circuit.

In terms of protection, the AFCI is required, but the GFCI protection is not needed in most cases.

5. The Dishwasher Circuit

In modern homes, a 120-volt 20-amp circuit is required for powering dishwater. A 12/2 wire must install it with a ground. It is pertinent you allow for slack on the NM cable when installing so that in case it get faults and needs repair later at a future date, the dishwasher can be pulled out for repair without being disconnected.

However, you can use the same circuit for both the dishwasher and the garbage disposal. If you want to do it, you must install a 20-amp circuit. In doing so, make sure that the total amperage of both appliances does not exceed 80% of the circuit amperage rating. However, check your local laws concerning this to see what is permitted in your region.

Due to local requirements, GFCI protection is a must, but  AFCI protection may be optional.

Is an electricity upgrade important to the kitchen?

A correct electrical upgrade is necessary to improve the value and appearance of any kitchen. The transformation sponsored by the right electricity upgrade will surprise you. It can be so amazing!

When going for an electricity upgrade, do carefully choose an electricity company with good working experience and knowledge to install and effectively guide you under your local laws.

FAQs on How Many Circuits for Kitchen

How many outlets can I put on a 20 amp kitchen circuit?

A standard rule requires that a maximum draw of 1.5 amps be allocated to each receptacle. Thus, a 20 amp kitchen circuit needs ten receptacles.

Can a kitchen be on one circuit?

No, a Kitchen can’t be on one circuit. The kitchen is adequately served by multiple circuits minimum of seven for proper functioning.  This is because the kitchen uses many appliances and equipment that consume light. Undoubtedly, the kitchen consumes more light than any other room in the home.

Do I need 20 amp outlets in the kitchen?

Kitchens need a 20-amp circuit which is made possible by a 12-gauge wire. Currently, a 12-gauge wire is usually wrapped in a yellow sheath, which can also be white.  And these circuits need both arc fault and ground fault circuit interruption, including the AFCI and GFCI protection.

Can kitchen lights be on the same circuit as outlets?

Yes, you can install both lights and receptacles on the same single circuit.  This is when the combination does not consume too much power.

Can a microwave and refrigerator be on the same circuit?

The NEC 2020 revised law states that microwaves and refrigerators cannot be on the same circuit.  This is because they both separately consume too much power; as such, no circuit can carry both without exploding out. So they both require a dedicated circuit.


Follow us up for more exciting and educative posts on modern kitchen nuggets. For further reading, do check out this “12 Must-Have Smart Cooking Devices.”

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