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HOME > NEC > CODE BASICS > DWELLING UNIT CALCULATIONS

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Dwelling Unit Calculations

Tip of the Week: What can you learn from


NEC Annex H? Part 1

Apply demand factors for correct load calculations


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Nov 1, 2009

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COMMENTS 3

Apply demand factors for correct load calculations

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A dwelling unit is a single unit that provides complete and independent living facilities,
according to the NEC definition found in Art. 100 (Fig. 1 ).

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<b>Fig. 1.</b> The definition of dwelling unit,


as described above, is found in Art. 100.

Dwelling units have special requirements for load calculations. Although most of the
actual load calculation requirements are in Art. 220, others are scattered throughout the
Code and still come into play when making certain calculations (Where to Find
Dwelling Unit Code Requirements Outside Art. 220). Keep the following
considerations in mind when making dwelling unit calculations:
Voltages. Unless other voltages are specified, calculate branch-circuit, feeder, and service
loads using the nominal system voltage [220.5(A)]. For a single-family dwelling unit, the

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Dwelling Unit Calculations

nominal voltage is typically 120/240V.


Motor VA. Use motor table voltage and current values, such as 115V, 230V, or 460V
not 120V, 240V, or 480V [430.248 and 430.250]. A much more accurate VA rating is
obtained by using the motors rated voltage and current, which were used in developing
the Code Tables.
Rounding. Where calculations result in a fraction of less than 0.50A, you can drop the
fraction [220.5(B)].
Receptacles. You can use 15A or 20A receptacles on 20A circuits as long as there is more
than one receptacle on the circuit. For these purposes, a duplex receptacle is considered
to be two receptacles [210.21(B)(3)].
Continuous loads. A continuous load is one in which the maximum current is expected to
continue for 3 hr or more, according to the Art. 100 definition. Fixed electric heating is
one example of a continuous load [424.3(B)]. When sizing branch circuit conductors and
overcurrent devices for a continuous load, multiply the load by 125% [210.19(A)(1) and
210.20(A)].
Laundry rooms. A laundry area receptacle is required [210.52(F)], at least one of which
must be within 6 ft of a washing machine [210.50(C)]. Any receptacle within 6 ft of the
outside edge of a laundry sink must be GFCI protected [210.8(A)(7)].

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Required circuits. In addition to the circuits required for dedicated appliances and
those needed to serve the general lighting and receptacle load, a dwelling unit must
have the following circuits:

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A minimum of two 20A, 120V small-appliance branch circuits for receptacles in the
kitchen, dining room, breakfast room, pantry, or similar dining areas [220.11(C)(1)].
These circuits must not be used to serve other outlets, such as lighting outlets or
receptacles from other areas [210.52(B)(2) Ex]. These circuits are included in the
feeder/service calculation at 1,500VA for each circuit [220.52(A)].
One 20A, 120V branch circuit for the laundry receptacle(s). It cant serve any other
outlet(s), such as lighting, and can serve only receptacle outlets in the laundry area
[210.52(F) and 210.11(C)(2)]. In your feeder/service load calculation, include 1,500VA for
the 20A laundry receptacle circuit [220.52(B)], as shown in Fig. 2.

Feeder and service calculations. Occupants dont use all loads simultaneously
under normal living conditions, so demand factors can be applied to many of the
dwelling unit loads in order to size the service. Some demand factors provided in the
Code are intended for use in dwellings only; others are allowed only in non-dwellings.
Therefore, be careful to apply demand factors only as allowed by the NEC.

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<b>Fig. 2.</b> Per Sec. 210.11(C)(2), one 20A,


120V branch circuit is required for the laundry
area receptacles.

The NEC provides two dwelling service load calculation methods: the standard method
and the optional method.
Standard method for feeder and service load calculations

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The standard method consists of three calculation steps:


1. General lighting VA load. When calculating branch circuits and feeder/service loads for
dwellings, include a minimum 3VA per sq ft for general lighting and general-use

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Dwelling Unit Calculations

receptacles [220.12]. When determining the area, use the outside dimensions of the
dwelling. Dont include open porches, garages, or spaces not adaptable for future use.
2. Small appliance and laundry circuits. The 3VA per sq ft rule includes general lighting
and all 15A and 20A, 125V general-use receptacles, but doesnt include small-appliance
or laundry circuit receptacles. Therefore, you must calculate those at 1,500VA per circuit.
See 220.14(J) for details.
3. Number of branch circuits. Determine the number of branch circuits required for general
lighting and general-use receptacles from the general lighting load and rating of the
circuits [210.11(A)]. Although this is explained in Annex D, Example D1(a) of the NEC,
lets look at an another example.

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<b>Fig. 3.</b> Sample calculation showing how


to follow the rules in Sec. 220.12 regarding
general lighting and receptacles for a 2,000sq-ft dwelling unit.

Question: Whats the general lighting and receptacle load for a 2,000-sq-ft dwelling
unit that has 34 convenience receptacles and 12 luminaires rated 100W each (Fig. 3)?

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2,000 sq ft x 3VA = 6,000VA.


No additional load is required for general-use receptacles and lighting outlets because
they are included in the 3VA per sq ft load specified by Table 220.12 for dwelling units.
See 220.14(J).

Sample

Step 1: General lighting VA = 2,000 sq ft x 3VA = 6,000VA


Step 2: General lighting amperes:
I = VA E
I = 6,000VA 120V*
I = 50A
*Use 120V, single-phase unless specified otherwise.
Step 3: Determine the number of circuits:
Number of circuits = General lighting amperes circuit amperes
Number of circuits = 50A 15A
Number of circuits = 3.30, or 4 circuits. Any fraction of a circuit must be rounded up.
Optional method for feeder and service load calculations
You can use the optional method [Art. 220, Part IV] only for dwelling units served by a
single 120/240V or 120/208V 3-wire set of service or feeder conductors with an
ampacity of 100A or larger [220.82]. The optional method consists of three calculation

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Now lets work through an example to determine the number of circuits required.
Question: How many 15A circuits are required for a 2,000-sq-ft dwelling unit?

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Dwelling Unit Calculations

steps:
1. General loads [220.82(B)]
2. Heating and air-conditioning load [220.82(C)]
3. Feeder/service conductors [310.15(B)(6)]

Step 1: General loads [220.82(B)]


The general calculated load must be at least 100% for the first 10kVA, plus 40% of the
remainder of the following loads:
1. General lighting and receptacles: 3VA per sq ft
2. Small-appliance and laundry branch circuits: 1,500VA for each 20A, 120V smallappliance and laundry branch circuit specified in 220.52.
3. Appliances: The nameplate VA rating of all appliances and motors that are fastened in
place (permanently connected) or located on a specific circuit, not including heating or
air-conditioning.

Be sure to calculate the range and dryer at their nameplate ratings.


Step 2: Heating and air-conditioning load [220.82(C)]
Include the larger of (1) through (6):
1. Air-conditioning equipment: 100%
2. Heat-pump compressor without supplemental heating: 100%
3. Heat-pump compressor and supplemental heating: 100% of the nameplate rating of the
heat-pump compressor and 65% of the supplemental electric heating for central electric
space-heating systems. If the control circuit is designed so that the heat-pump
compressor cant run at the same time as the supplementary heat, omit the compressor
from the calculation.
4. Space-heating units (three or fewer separately controlled units): 65%.
5. Space-heating units (four or more separately controlled units): 40%.
6. Thermal storage heating: 100%.

Step 3: Feeder/service conductors [310.15(B)(6)]


400A and less. For individual dwelling units of one-family, two-family, and multi-family
dwellings, use Table 310.15(B)(6) to size 3-wire, single-phase, 120/240V service or feeder
conductors (including neutral conductors) that serve as the main power feeder. Feeder
conductors arent required to have an ampacity rating greater than the service conductors
[215.2(A)(3)]. Size the neutral conductor to carry the unbalanced load per Table
310.15(B)(6). Table 310.15(B)(6) cant be used for sizing the feeder or service conductors
that supply more than a single dwelling unit.
Over 400A. Size ungrounded conductors and the neutral conductor using Table 310.16
for feeder/services over 400A and those that do not fill all of the requirements for using
Table 310.15(B)(6). Lets try a calculation example.

Question: What size service conductor is required for a 1,500-sq-ft dwelling unit
containing the following loads?
Cooktop: 6,000VA
Disposal: 900VA
Dishwasher: 1,200VA
Dryer: 4,000VA
Ovens (two each): 3,000VA
Water heater: 4,500VA
A/C: 17A, 230V
Electric heating (one control unit): 10kVA
Step 1: General loads [220.82(B)]
General lighting: 1,500 sq ft x 3VA = 4,500VA
Small-appliance circuits: 1,500VA x 2 circuits = 3,000VA
Laundry circuit: 1,500VA
Appliances (nameplate):

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Dwelling Unit Calculations

Cooktop: 6,000VA
Disposal: 900VA
Dishwasher: 1,200VA
Dryer: 4,000VA
Ovens (each 3 kW): 6,000VA
Water heater: 4,500VA
Total connected load: 31,600VA
First 10kW at 100%: 10,000VA x 1.00 = 10,000VA
Remainder at 40%: 21,600VA x 0.40 = 8,640VA
Calculated general load: 10,000VA + 8,640VA
Calculated general load: 18,640VA
Step 2: Air-Conditioning versus heat [220.82(C)]
Air-conditioning at 100% [220.82(C)(1)] vs. electric space heating at 65%
[220.82(C)(4)]
Air conditioner [Table 430.248]:
A/C VA = V x A
A/C VA = 230V x 17A
A/C VA = 3,910VA (omit)
Electric space heat: 10,000VA x 0.65 = 6,500VA
Step 3: Feeder/service conductors [310.15(B)(6)]
Calculated general load (Step 1): 18,640VA
Heat calculated load (Step 2): 6,500VA
Total calculated load = 18,640VA + 6,500VA = 25,140VA
I = VA E
I = 25,140VA 240V = 105A
Therefore, the feeder/service ungrounded conductor is sized to 110A, 3 AWG
[310.15(B)(6)].
The Code doesnt explain how demand factors were derived, and its not essential that
you understand this in order to apply them correctly. Be sure to work on some practice
calculations so you understand how to apply the various demand factors to a dwelling
unit calculation.
The standard calculation and the optional calculation methods were both discussed in
this article. These are two distinctly different calculation methods, so be careful not to
mix them. Remember that the standard method is in Part III of Art. 220, and the
optional method is contained in Part IV. When you are evaluating the necessary loads
in either type of calculation method, follow the requirements for specific loads covered
in other Articles outside of Art. 220. Which method is better to use? On an exam, youll
likely be told which method to use on a specific question. However, if the question
doesnt specify a method, use the standard calculation. The optional method is usually
faster and easier to apply, so it has a natural advantage for daily use on the job.

Where to Find Dwelling Unit Code Requirements Outside Art. 220


Branch circuits Art. 210

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Dwelling Unit Calculations

Areas supplied by small appliance circuits 210.52(B)(1)


Feeders Art. 215
Services Art. 230
Overcurrent protection Art. 240
Wiring methods Art. 300
Conductors Art. 310
Appliances Art. 422
Electric space-heating equipment Art. 424
Motors Art. 430
Air-conditioning equipment Art. 440

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on Jan 2, 2013

Anonymous (not verified)

Inspector wants to know load on


(7) sp 15 amp breakers, (3) sp 20 amp, 2 sets of double pole 20 amp , and 1 dp 30,
general lighting loads, Can you help me out.
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Anonymous (not verified)

on Jun 10, 2013

is this for a house or an add on? because if it is for a house, for a single family dwelling
disconnecting means shall have a rating of not less than 100amp 3 wire service.
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on Feb 21, 2014

CameronRobertson

Would this apply for a bunker? I have some customers who are interested in renting or
buying a portable storage unit to serve as a bunker and they have been wondering about
how to wire their bunker up. Do let me know, as Im sure my customers would be keen to
have their temporary homes up to standard.
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http://ecmweb.com/code-basics/dwelling-unit-calculations[10/6/2016 12:36:00 PM]

Dwelling Unit Calculations

Dwelling Unit Feeder/Service Conductor Calculations

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