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15amp outlet on 20amp breaker

Posted: Wed Mar 12, 2014 4:04 am
by image969
Hello. I know this is not code. ButI saw something that already exists in my home. In the unfinished part of my basement. I have a 20 amp break going straight to a 15amp outlet. From there it jumps to a second, third, fourth, and then fifth outlet.. The fifth outlet being controlled by a light switch for two florescent lights.

I don't even use any of these plugs except one. It's where I plug in my compound Miter Saw.

Again I know this isn't code. but is it a big deal?

I assume the other way around is. If I had 20amp stuff plugged in on a 15amp circuit breaker.

i would love an explanation that does not concern the code part of it. Cause it passed home inspection, and I'd rather not play around in the main panel unless you think I should(being safe or calling electrician if need be of course).

Thanks. :)

Re: 15amp outlet on 20amp breaker

Posted: Wed Mar 12, 2014 6:30 am
by Shannon
To be real honest ,I don't think it is a big deal as long as you know about it. Just be careful not to over load that circuit because the breaker will not trip as easy and the wiring is likely only 14 gauge wire to it will get hotter then it should before that would ever trip and could cause fire. It is unlikely though since you basically are not over loading it.If you ever are up to it ,change the breaker for a 15amp.
Chances are the home inspector never even noticed , because it really should be changed to a 15amp.

Re: 15amp outlet on 20amp breaker

Posted: Wed Mar 12, 2014 3:01 pm
by image969
so another words.. as long as im not pushing more then 15amps on circuit.. or as long as im not pushing anything that would normally trip a 15amp breaker then I'm fine?

And it turns out the initial outlet has 12/2 on it.. The 4 outlets after that are 14/2. Again there are literally 2 lights plugged in, and occasionally a rigid miter when i need it. usually its unplugged.. So im no wheres near chancing an overload as far as 15amps go

Thanks for your help.. thats the last of my questions for this topic. Im sure more will follow some day.. lol

Re: 15amp outlet on 20amp breaker

Posted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 7:08 am
by Shannon
Ya sounds good , if you do need to use something that draws close to 15 amps ,then use the first plug that is fed by the 12/2 wire.

Re: 15amp outlet on 20amp breaker

Posted: Sun Mar 16, 2014 7:34 am
by DBCooper
The danger with this circuit exists where the 14/2 wiring begins. If your breaker is 20 amps, than all wiring needs to be 12 gauge. Wire sizing pertaining to breaker size is crucial.

Regarding the 15 amp receptacles on the 20 amp circuit. This is not a problem provided you are not "feeding through" these receptacles. In other words, feeding through means using the receptacle as a connector for the rest of the circuit. Picture this, you have one non-metallic cable (ROMEX) with a black, white, & ground bringing power INTO the receptacle.....then you have a second non-metallic cable feeding power OUT of the receptacle to the next box on the wall. If you hook the 2 black wires and the 2 white wires to the receptacle via the holes in the back of the outlet or the screws on the sides of the outlet have "FED THROUGH" the receptacle. You are requiring this 15 amp rated receptacle to carry the load of the entire circuit. Because if you were to remove any one of these 4 wires from the receptacle the circuit beyond the receptacle in question would go dead. This is referred to as wiring in series. Unless the receptacle is rated for the same amperage as the circuit breaker this is no good. In your case the receptacle is NOT rated the same as the circuit breaker.

As you remember, I stated this is not a problem provided you are not "feeding through" the receptacle. The way you avoid feeding through (or wiring in series) is to wire in parallel. Picture this, you take the 2 sets of non-metallic cable and join them together in the box BEFORE connecting the receptacle. In other words, take the 2 black wires and add a third 8" long piece of black wire together, twisting them underneath a read or tan wire nut. Do the same with the white wires. This will leave you with a black and a white wire (do the same with the grounds of course) to connect to the receptacle. NOW, if this receptacle fails for any reason, the rest of the circuit stays hot. PLUS, you are not asking the receptacle to carry the entire load of the circuit across its terminals. The circuit is feeding through the connections made inside the wire nuts where all the wire is sized appropriately.

But again, let me stress the point that your circuit is compromised where the wire changes from 12 gauge to 14 gauge. You should reduce the circuit breaker to 15 amps unless you are able to replace the 14 with 12.