Q. How many receptacles can I put on a 15-amp and a 20-amp circuit?

A. Rex Cauldwell, a master electrician in Rocky Mount, Va.; the author of Wiring a House; and a frequent contributor to JLC, responds: The electrical code places no limit on the number of receptacles you can put on either a 15-amp or a 20-amp general-use circuit in a residential situation. You could have 10 or you could have 1,000.

Practically speaking, it's not an issue, because the code requires that kitchen, bathroom, and utility-room receptacles be placed on individual branch circuits. Following minimum code, you could then put all the leftover rooms — living room, hall, bedrooms — together on one circuit. This is often the way it's done on low-bid jobs.

In commercial construction, however, the rules are a bit different: The limit is 10 receptacles on a 15-amp branch circuit and 13 receptacles on a 20-amp circuit.

Why the difference? In residential situations, it's assumed that all of the receptacles will not be used at the same time, while in a commercial setting they might be.