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Electrical outlet question

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by ScottF, Oct 8, 2008.

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  1. ScottF

    ScottF New Member

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    When working on my addition I noticed a situation at one of the outlets in my kitchen that I question. The electrician who originally wired my house installed what is supposed to be a 20 amp circuit. He used a 20 amp breaker in the panel and wired the entire circuit with #12 gauge wire. However, upon looking at the device at one of the outlet boxes I noticed that he installed an outlet that is only rated for 15 amps and not 20 amps. Is this a danger or a fire hazard? Should I replace the outlets with ones rated for 20 Amps?

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  2. ScottF

    ScottF New Member

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    Thank GWB, They are wired via the screws of the outlet. Makes me feel better. Hey is it just coincidence that your initials are the same as the big guy on his way out or was there any purpose to your choice. He doesnt have many fans in this country but perhaps you are one of them.
  3. seige101

    seige101 Minister of Fire

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    Your good to go. You only have to use a device rated for the full circuit rating when there is only one device on the circuit. Ex only 1 outlet it must be 20 amp,. more than one outlet you can use 15 amp.
  4. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I thought about this too the other day regarding my basement. The 15 amp stuff is hugely cheaper.
  5. ScottF

    ScottF New Member

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    Thanks for the replies on this. Sure appreciate it.
  6. jghall

    jghall Member

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    Scott per the NEC (National Electrical Code) it is legal to use 15 amp receptacles on a 20 amp branch circuit, provided that there is more than one receptacle on the circuit. A duplex receptacle counts as more than one receptacle. There are very few 120 volt devices that truly require a 20 amp circuit, and if they do (such as with an air conditioner or microwave), they usually require a dedicated circuit per the NEC. However kitchen and dining room receptacles are different. They are classified as "small appliance circuits" per the NEC. This is because appliances are plugged into these receptacles. The dining room recepticles are included in this portion of the code because it is conceivable that you might plug appliances into these receptacles for serving, as in a buffet setup. And small appliance circuits require true 20A branch circuit (that would be a 20A breaker and 12g wire with 20A recepticles)...
  7. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I thought that even the 15 amp outlets (cheap) were rated at 20 amp "pass through" current but only 15 to the plug.
  8. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    The safety factor is based on the wire size versus breaker size. A 20 amp breaker will easily blow before a 12 gauge wire can melt. Doesn't matter if there are lesser rated outlets hooked or not. But, as others already stated, most 15 amp recepticles are 20 amp pass-through rated. 20 amp outlets have different prong-holes.

    The voltage-drop factor is a whole different story - and sometimes in long runs, 12 gauge wire is not heavy enough for a 20 amp draw.
  9. ScottF

    ScottF New Member

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    Thanks for your reply, It is a very short run and the feeder is no longer than about 15 ft. Should not be a problem. Thanks again
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