15A outlet on 20A circuit

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  #1  
Old 01-25-05, 06:11 AM
Bill2003
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15A outlet on 20A circuit

OK, rookie question here.
I'm putting a new outlet in a bathroom. I'm hooking up to an existing line in the area, which is a 20A circuit. I used 12/2 wire to my new outlet. Now I'm wondering if I have to use a 20A outlet. I had initially assumed I did have to.
However, I noticed the other outlets on this circuit are not 20A outlets. And a 20A circuit that was put in my basement last year by an electrician only has 15A outlets. Whats the scoop here? What is the proper thing to do?
Heck, I've already bought the 20A outlet for the new one I'm putting in, but now I'm wondering why all these other outlets on 20A lines are only 15A outlets.
 
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  #2  
Old 01-25-05, 06:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Bill2003
OK, rookie question here.
I'm putting a new outlet in a bathroom. I'm hooking up to an existing line in the area, which is a 20A circuit. I used 12/2 wire to my new outlet. Now I'm wondering if I have to use a 20A outlet. I had initially assumed I did have to.
However, I noticed the other outlets on this circuit are not 20A outlets. And a 20A circuit that was put in my basement last year by an electrician only has 15A outlets. Whats the scoop here? What is the proper thing to do?
Heck, I've already bought the 20A outlet for the new one I'm putting in, but now I'm wondering why all these other outlets on 20A lines are only 15A outlets.

15A outlets are fine on 20A circuits in the US, so long as there is more than one of them. Each individual outlet only can supply 15A, but the entire circuit can provide 20A. A dedicated (ie, only outlet on circuit) *simplex* outlet (not the standard duplex outlet) on a 20A circuit is the only time a 20A outlet is required. A duplex receptical counts as two outlets, so even if there is only one duplex receptical on a 20A circuit, it can be a 15A.


HOWEVER, you have a problem here. Bathroom outlets MUST NOT be on circuits feeding anything other than bathrooms. Unless the circuit you are tapping into feeds only bathroom recepticles, you are violating code to do this.

Also, a bathroom receptical MUST be GFCI protected, either by a GFCI breaker, or by a GFCI outlet.
 
  #3  
Old 01-25-05, 03:10 PM
Bill2003
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First of all, I'm OK on the issue you raised. The circuit only has bathroom outlets on it and is GFCI protected. I'm just adding an additional outlet to one bathroom.

Thanks for your clarification on the outlet question. I have sometimes seen 20A duplex outlets, is this just overkill? How does a 15A outlet limit the current to 15A? In other words, if something tried to draw 17A, the circuit breaker would not trip because its a 20A circuit, so what would limit the current? THe outlet itself?

Originally Posted by chirkware
15A outlets are fine on 20A circuits in the US, so long as there is more than one of them. Each individual outlet only can supply 15A, but the entire circuit can provide 20A. A dedicated (ie, only outlet on circuit) *simplex* outlet (not the standard duplex outlet) on a 20A circuit is the only time a 20A outlet is required. A duplex receptical counts as two outlets, so even if there is only one duplex receptical on a 20A circuit, it can be a 15A.


HOWEVER, you have a problem here. Bathroom outlets MUST NOT be on circuits feeding anything other than bathrooms. Unless the circuit you are tapping into feeds only bathroom recepticles, you are violating code to do this.

Also, a bathroom receptical MUST be GFCI protected, either by a GFCI breaker, or by a GFCI outlet.
 
  #4  
Old 01-25-05, 03:27 PM
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In other words, if something tried to draw 17A, the circuit breaker would not trip because its a 20A circuit
A listed appliance that draws more current than 15A will have a 20A configured male cord cap that could not plug into this 15A outlet.

According to the NEC Table 210.21(B)(2) "Maximum Cord-and-Plug-Connected Load to Receptacle" this 15A duplex receptacle is limited to a maximum draw of 12 amps.
 
  #5  
Old 01-25-05, 04:31 PM
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The internal workings of a 15 amp receptacle can handle 20 amps. That is, if a device (say a vacuum cleaner) tried to draw 17 amps through a 15 amp receptacle on a 20 amp circuit, there would not be a problem at the receptacle. There certainly would be a problem at the vacuum cleaner (or it's cord), but that is a different issue. The wiring and the receptacle can handle the load.
 
  #6  
Old 01-26-05, 06:24 AM
harryhomeowner
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weird

so, why then is a 15 amp recepticle not a 20 amp? Would it handle over a 15amp pull that is prolonged, more then just say the startup of a motor (ie frig, 2hp motor, etc..)?
 
  #7  
Old 01-26-05, 06:26 AM
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Internally, 15-amp and 20-amp receptacles of the same quality level and price range are identical. The only difference is the face.
 
  #8  
Old 01-26-05, 11:53 AM
Bill2003
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Oh, I get it

OK, so the 20A outlet is the same as the 15A outlet except for the face, which is just a signal to everyone that it is hooked up to a 20A circuit so you can physically plug in a 20A item.

Originally Posted by John Nelson
Internally, 15-amp and 20-amp receptacles of the same quality level and price range are identical. The only difference is the face.
 
  #9  
Old 01-26-05, 11:56 AM
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Exactly!..
 
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