20 amp breakers but 15 amp switches


  #1  
Old 01-30-04, 08:18 PM
J
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20 amp breakers but 15 amp switches?

Just examining the wiring in my basement...except for the big stuff, all the breakers in my panel are 20A...all the wire for that stuff is 12/2, but I pulled the cover off a switch and it said 15A rated. Is that okay?

Thanks,
Joe
 

Last edited by joe30263; 01-31-04 at 07:16 AM.
  #2  
Old 01-30-04, 09:56 PM
P Michael
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Hey Joe,
It would be better if the title to your question were more specific. All the threads on this forum are "electrical question"s.

The NEC is more or less logical in its own Byzantine way. Thus you can protect a #12 wire with a 15 amp breaker but you can't protect a #14 wire with a 20 amp breaker. But if you have more than one receptacle on a 20 amp circuit, you can use 15 amp receptacles. Presumably you are using the light switch to operate light fixtures and not motors. Since the fixtures are probably ordinary household fixtures, they should be designed to operate at much less than 15 amps. EACH. You would have to do a tally of the wattages of all the lumenaries which it controlls.

Note: Lighting is considered a continuous load so you should limit the amperage to 12 amps.

~Peter
 
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Old 01-31-04, 07:17 AM
J
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Sorry Peter, I was a little tired when I posted last night...added a better title.
 
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Old 01-31-04, 11:32 AM
J
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The title "electrical question" made good sense when this was posted in the Basement forum. The title became less meaningful when the moderator of the Basement forum moved it to the Electrical forum. The poster cannot really modify the subject of the thread, but I can, and now have.

Probably 99% of all switches and receptacles on residential 20-amp circuits in the U.S. are 15-amp devices. This question is surely in the top ten of electrical questions asked here.

The NEC does not state that lighting is a continuous load. That judgement is left up to the inspector. I know of no inspectors that rule that residential lighting is a continuous load.
 
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Old 01-31-04, 11:39 AM
J
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Thanks John! I'm off to take my 14/2 back to Home Depot.
 
 

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