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is it acceptable to use 15 amp rated switches and receptacles on 20 amp breaker

is it acceptable to use 15 amp rated switches and receptacles on 20 amp breaker

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  #1  
Old 07-17-05, 02:20 PM
swope1221
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is it acceptable to use 15 amp rated switches and receptacles on 20 amp breaker

Hi everyone. I had a quick question. Is it an acceptable practice to use 15 amp rated light switches and receptacles on a 20 amp circuit breaker if 12 gauge wire is used between the breaker and the switches and receptacles?
Thanks for any info.
 
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  #2  
Old 07-17-05, 02:44 PM
Speedy Petey's Avatar
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The short answer is yes. Unless you are switching a very large load (over 15 amps). Receptalces are fine as well as long as there is at least one duplex receptacle on the circuit.

One thing concerns me about your question though. You say:
"...if 12 gauge wire is used between the breaker and the switches and receptacles?"
#12 MUST be used for the whole circuit. It sounds as if to imply using #14 as switch legs. If this is not what you are implying then I apologize.
You CANNOT drop down to #14, if you do you must breaker the circuit for the smallest wire used anywhere in the circuit.
Basically, mixing wire sizes within a circuit is bad practice and poor workmanship.
 
  #3  
Old 07-18-05, 05:32 PM
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I don't pretend to be a code expert, but common sense (among other things) tells me you should size the breaker for the weakest link in the circuit - and that includes switches and receptacles. In theory even if you just had a single 15-amp receptacle in the circuit you could run it over its rating and yet not trip the 20-amp breaker. Either this is a 15-amp circuit or it's 20-amp; it can't be both. Change the breaker to 15-amp. (and use #12 if you like - a little extra copper never hurt anyone )
 
  #4  
Old 07-18-05, 08:24 PM
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I might agree if 20-amp receptacles were any better quality than 15-amp receptacles. But 15-amp and 20-amp receptacles in the same price range have identical internals. The only difference is the faceplate. Spend a few bucks, buy one of each, and break each by hitting it with a hammer. You'll find the same thing inside.
 
  #5  
Old 07-18-05, 09:03 PM
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Here, here John.


Besides, switches are NOT switching the branch circuit, they are switching a predetermind load. If the load is more than 15 amps (HIGHLY unlikely in a residence) then you are required to use a 20 amp switch.
 
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