Replace 10 amp circuit breaker with 20 amp

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  #1  
Old 01-08-06, 10:14 PM
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Replace 10 amp circuit breaker with 20 amp

Forum ate this post once already, so pardon me if I'm short.

Garage on 10 amp circuit from main breaker box. No seperate box for garage. 12-2 with ground. About 10 foot to garage. Furthest outlet about 25 foot from box. 100 amp breaker box with 20 slots. 16 in use, all with 10 amp circuits.

Is there any reason I cannot simply pull the 10 amp breaker and replace it with a 20 amp breaker? Wire size, distance... what have I failed to consider?

I realize I'm already over 100 amps on the main box. I assume since they have allowed for 20 circuits, and since the pro that wired the house thought 160 amps were ok that there is some reasonable leeway. Guessing that the fact we never run every appliance and light at once, we're never actually drawing 160 amps. Is that correct?

THanks for your advice.

Bruce
 
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  #2  
Old 01-08-06, 11:10 PM
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Originally Posted by bigdiogi
I realize I'm already over 100 amps on the main box. I assume since they have allowed for 20 circuits, and since the pro that wired the house thought 160 amps were ok that there is some reasonable leeway. Guessing that the fact we never run every appliance and light at once, we're never actually drawing 160 amps. Is that correct?
This part is common enough. There are load calculations that can be done that take typical usage and duty cycles into count to determine whether panels are truly "overloaded" or not. The residential experts can chime in later and tell you where to get that info online.

Are you in the US? 10A circuits/breakers are very uncommon (read "unheard of") in any place I'm familiar with, but I could be showing my age.

Any way of contacting the person that installed them to ask why?
 
  #3  
Old 01-09-06, 06:06 AM
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Yes & No

Yes, I'm in the US (Illinois, if it matters)

No, I can't contact the contractor. Work done by previous owner.

Yes, it seems strange to have all 10 amp circuits. Did not check every wire, but on first blush it all appears to be 12-2. All the major appliances are on dedicated circuits. And the outlets and lights are broken into short runs. Almost never trip a breaker. (Except for the garage. And only since I've started using it for a woodworking shop. Previously it only powered the opener and one light. I've added outlets and run a lot of power tools.) So apparently the circuits are lightly loaded and the 10 amp capacity is adaquate.

Thanks for your input.

Bruce
 
  #4  
Old 01-09-06, 07:17 AM
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You'll have to trace the whole circuit run and make sure all of the wiring connected to that breaker is 12 gauge before you can switch the breaker. I must say however I've never seen a residential 10A breaker. What is the brand of the panel?
 
  #5  
Old 01-09-06, 07:57 AM
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I think I see your confusion. Each of my breakers shows a # 10 on the body, but that is not the amperage. Look on the end of the toggle (on-off ) switch and you will see the amp rating.
 
  #6  
Old 01-10-06, 09:21 AM
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Goldstar gets a gold star

That answers one question. I feel like such an idiot. 10 is printed in white print at the base of each breaker switch, followed by a very tiny "ka". The breaker amperage is given on the toggle itself, but it is merely embossed in the same black plastic as the rest of the switch. And by flashlight, I failed to read it correctly.

What a maroon!

I actually already have a 20 amp circuit running to the garage already. But with that 15 amp portable thickness planer running, I can't have anything else on.

My question still stands though. Just for my personal education. If the wiring is the correct gauge, and the run is short, could a circuit breaker be simply swapped for one of a higher amperage? Is it really that simple?
 
  #7  
Old 01-10-06, 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by bigdiogi
My question still stands though. Just for my personal education. If the wiring is the correct gauge, and the run is short, could a circuit breaker be simply swapped for one of a higher amperage? Is it really that simple?
The answer is yes. If the wiring is rated for the higher amperage then you can substitute the higher amperage circuit breaker. (This is true as long as you follow other rules, such as matching the breaker to the equipment and to the receptacle(s).

By the way, this has nothing to do with the distance. You can use the higher rated breaker regardless of the distance, you will just see lower voltage (and you will potentially damage your equipment) if you try to pull the higher current too great a distance.
 
  #8  
Old 01-10-06, 10:00 AM
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If the wiring is the correct gauge, and the run is short, could a circuit breaker be simply swapped for one of a higher amperage?
As a theoretical question, the answer is yes. But in a practical sense, the question has no application, because 99.99% of the time, the breaker is already the maximum value allowed for the wire used.
 
  #9  
Old 01-10-06, 06:02 PM
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Just adding my $.02

There are indeed 10A breakers still made today. The reason I know is because I bought one last year for my lawn sprinkler controller circuit.

Mine is a Square D QO model breaker.
 
  #10  
Old 01-11-06, 08:21 PM
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Federal Pacific had 10 amp breakers too.
 
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