How to Run a Dedicated Circuit

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A dedicated circuit is an electrical outlet that is used for only one purpose and the only outlet on that given line. In your kitchen alone, there should already be three dedicated circuits: the refrigerator, the microwave and the dishwasher. Because each of these appliances has the ability to draw so much energy--they are best not to be shared with any other electrical devices or appliances. But, while there should be three dedicated lines--quite often in older homes--there aren't. If you find that your kitchen appliances are tripping their circuit breakers--and it's not due to being older appliances--you may have to run a dedicated circuit to correct the problem.

Things You'll Need

  • Voltage tester
  • Insulated screwdrivers
  • Drywall saw
  • Wire strippers
  • Romex stripper
  • Electrical tape
  • Romex connectors
  • Pencil
  • Measuring tape
  • Torpedo level
  • NM wire-pulling fish
  • Old-work electrical box
  • Dedicated 20-amp outlet
  • Outlet plate cover
  • NM cable (12-2 for 20-amp circuit)
  • Spare 20-amp breaker
  • Map out the circuit so you have a good idea of how you are going to run it. This includes determining the final location of the dedicated circuit and the route you are going to use to get the cable from that point to the electrical panel.

  • Remove the electrical panel cover and look to see if you have either a spare 20-amp breaker that's not in use or an available slot to install one.

  • Find a knockout on the top or bottom of the panel that is nearest to the location of your breaker and remove it.

  • Using the face of the old work outlet box as a template, trace around the box at the place where you will be installing it. Use the drywall saw to cut away your access hole.

  • Fish the wire from the electrical panel to the point of installation. This may require you to cut additional holes in the drywall or to drill through floor boards to make running the circuit easier.

  • Pull the NM cable into the backside of the old work outlet box. Leave about 12 inches of cable sticking out of the box. Insert the box into the access hole and tighten the two corner screws to engage the wings, which secure the box in place. Use the torpedo level to ensure a level installation.

  • Use the Romex stripper to remove the outer sheathing from the cable coming out of the box.

  • Use the wire strippers to cut any excess wire away and to remove about 3/4 inches of insulation from the ends of each wire. Bend the exposed ends into a hook shape.

  • Connect the ground wire to the ground screw on the outlet, the black wire to the bronze screw and the white wire to the silver screw. Tighten down the remaining bronze and silver screws, wrap the terminals with electrical tape and secure the outlet to the box using the two screws. Once finished, install the cover plate.

  • Turn off the breaker that you are going to be connecting your circuit to.

  • Install a Romex connector in place of where you removed the knockout on the panel earlier.

  • Bring the NM cable into the panel through the connector, and when you have more than enough cable to work with, secure the clamp screws on the connector to hold the wire tight.

  • Remove the cable's outer sheath using the Romex stripper and cut away any excess wire. Strip the ends of each wire as you did earlier.

  • Loosen the terminal screw on the breaker as well as one screw on the neutral bar and the ground bar.

  • Insert the tip of the ground wire into the terminal on the ground bar and secure it in place. Insert the tip of the white wire underneath the neutral bar screw and secure it in place. Insert the tip of the black wire into the terminal on the side of the breaker and secure it in place. Give the wire a slight tug to make sure it is tightly connected.

  • Position all of the wires inside the panel so none can accidentally be caught when you reinstall the panel cover, then resecure the panel cover to the electrical panel.

  • Turn the breaker on and test your dedicated circuit for the proper voltage.

Tips & Warnings

  • Running a dedicated circuit may require a permit in some areas. Always check your local building codes to determine if you need to pull a permit in order to perform this type of work on your home.
  • Working inside an electrical panel can be very dangerous if you are not careful. While it is completely legal for homeowners to perform their own electrical work, if you feel uncomfortable, always hire an electrician to do the job.
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