15 amp recepticles on a 20 amp circuit

Old 10-14-04, 09:45 PM
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15 amp recepticles on a 20 amp circuit

My understanding is that 15 amp recepticles are acceptable on a 20 amp circuit because the assumption is that no individual recepticle will be supplying more than 15 amps. However, when several recepticles are wired in series, the first recepticle may be carrying in excess of 15 amps across its side terminals due to total circuit load accumulation. Can this be a problem? If this is not a problem, then what is it about a 15 amp recepticle that makes it unsuitable for 20 amps? Also the price of recepticles varies widely between the expensive ones in little cardboard packets to cheap ones sold in bulk. Are they theoretically all the same quality or do the cheap ones have poorer insulating characteristics or lower current carrying capability? What should I watch out for?
Old 10-14-04, 10:33 PM
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All 15-amp receptacles are rated for 20-amp pass through. The only difference between a 15-amp receptacle and a 20-amp receptacle is the shape of the slits on the face. A 15-amp receptacle does not accept 20-amp plugs, but a 20-amp receptacle does. Internally, they are identical (at equivalent quality levels).

The cheap ones are made more cheaply and will probably break more easily. It's up to you whether you want to spend more money. Added up over all the receptacles in your house, it's non-trivial. I don't think you should buy the 39-cent receptacles, but I don't think you need the $3 ones either. Shoot for somewhere in between.

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