Changing an outlet's circuit


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Old 01-27-06, 09:28 AM
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Changing an outlet's circuit

OK, let me explain this. My basement is on one circuit. On this circuit, I have a few fishtanks and two fluorescent light fixtures. These things I assume are fairly low power.

I also have a TV, cable box, and video game consoles (only one of which is ever on at any given time). There is one small plug-in lamp.

I also have an electric fireplace insert, which I imagine draws quite a bit of power. I can use all of these things at once without difficult. I also occasionally vacuum down there with a canister vacuum - fairly powerful and I guess also fairly power hungry. When I use both the vacuum and the fireplace, the breaker trips. This isn't a problem, as I have no problem shutting off the fireplace while I vacuum.

I plan on replacing the TV (a 32" tube) with a flat panel, which I assume uses less power. With the space savings, we were planning on bringing the computer down there. What I really want to know (without simply trying it) is if I can use the TV, computer, and fireplace all at the same time without tripping the breaker. The TV power consumption is listed by the manufacturer as 188W; the computer is probably around 250W (it's nearly five years old, and rarely used for anything intensive). The fireplace, if I recall, probably runs about 1000-1200W. Putting all these things together will get me just under the limit if I want to use the fireplace.

If not, is it particularly difficult to change an outlet's circuit? The box is within about 10 feet of the outlet. I assume I'd have to add a junction box on the stud to accomodate the now-continuous wiring. How hard is it to run wire from the box to an outlet?
 
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Old 01-27-06, 10:04 AM
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Given the labor involved and the distance to the panelboard, it makes more sense to simply _add_ a new circuit with a couple of receptacles. Why make extra work disconnecting a receptacle, splicing that circuit, and potentially having box fill problems when you need to make room for both the new and the old wiring.

I would personally prefer to _never_ use the vacuum on the same circuit as the computer. The vacuum is not only a large load, but a large load that turns on and off frequently, causing voltage sags and surges on the line.

-Jon
 
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Old 01-27-06, 10:07 AM
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You didn't say whether this is a 15 amp or 20 amps circuit.

P=VI, which is Power = voltage times current. You can do the math. 120 volts and either 15 or 20 amps will be the power you have available.

If it were me, I would run a new circuit for the fireplace, and probably for the computer. note I said that I would add a new circuit. i would not try to change a receptacle from one circuit to another.

I would suggest that you read up on home wiring. Start with Wiring Simplified. That book and another of your choice will give you more than enough information to add a new circuit or two. You can then post back for specific questions when you are ready to start.
 
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Old 01-27-06, 11:08 AM
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I'm *almost* positive it's a 15-amp circuit. I also had thought about simply adding an outlet. (Sidebar: would it make sense to replace the existing box with a larger box, and simply add a receptacle there on a separate circuit? I imagine it would be a point of confusion for future owners.)

I use line conditioners and surge protectors on all my electronic equipment, which I assume is supposed to mitigate the effects that were described with the vacuum. I would think it's more important (of course, I could be completely wrong) to add a circuit for the fireplace, which is really a large load (as are most electric heaters). If it's somewhat easy - as in, I don't have to rip out drywall to do it - I'll happily add a second receptacle.
 
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Old 01-27-06, 12:39 PM
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It is more labor intensive to enlarge a box and add a receptacle on a new circuit than it is to add the new receptacle as a stand alone new receptacle.
 
 

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