15 amp & 20 amp outlets

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  #1  
Old 12-13-07, 08:28 AM
W
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15 amp & 20 amp outlets

I have in the basement a 20 AMP outlet that i would like to use because i got the 15 AMP that I'm using so full of stuff that it's near tripping the breaker if i use any more, on that circuit. The 20, do you have to use a stronger cord for anything that's plugged into it, like a 12 gauge instead of a 14 gauge, or can you use a 14? don't want to buy anything more to use the washer outlet, HELP
 
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Old 12-13-07, 08:37 AM
R
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Start over. I'm not sure I fully understand your question.

A 20 amp receptacle must be installed on a 20 amp circuit.

A 15 amp receptacle (in the US) can be installed on a 15 amp circuit or a 20 amp circuit.

If you have a device (usually power tools or maybe a powerful appliance) that needs a 20 amp circuit it will have a cord and plug rated for 20 amps. The plug will only plug into a 20 amp receptacle.

Changing a 15 amp receptacle to a be a 20 amp receptacle (even if it is a 20 amp circuit) will not stop change the load on the circuit and will not address the underlying problem.

Most devices in your house have a cord and plug that plugs into a 15 amp or a 20 amp receptacle.

If you are near tripping a breaker, or are tripping the breaker then you are using too much on the circuit. The only solution to this problem is to split the load. Find another circuit for some of the items. If there are no other circuits available nearby, then add a brand new circuit (I recommend adding a 20 amp circuit if you do add a circuit) nearby for some of the load.
 
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Old 12-13-07, 09:47 AM
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Before you use any receptacle, it's a good idea to find out what else is on the same circuit. In many homes, a basement receptacle is on the same circuit as many things upstairs, particularly the bathroom receptacles and sometimes the outdoor receptacles.
 
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Old 12-13-07, 09:56 AM
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Let me make this perfectly clear, HA HA. The outlet is on the basement wall, i followed the conduit to the breaker box, and inside it had a label by the 20 AMP breaker titled "washer"
i shut off the breaker and everything on the outlet was dead, what I'm asking is, can i use a ordinary cord? From what you said it sounds like any cord for a 15 AMP can be used for a 20 AMP outlet. Thanks
 
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Old 12-13-07, 11:20 AM
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Use whatever cord and plug comes with the device.
 
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Old 12-13-07, 12:52 PM
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As Bob says, there's no reason to use any different cord because the breaker is 20-amp rather than 15-amp, unless of course you have a true 20-amp device.

It's always a good idea to avoid use of extension cords whenever possible, and, when used, to use the shortest and heaviest one that works. If you need an extension cord other than temporarily, then you should wire in a new receptacle instead.

Always use plugs that fit snugly into receptacles and never use cheap multioutlet adaptors.
 
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Old 12-14-07, 05:12 PM
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.

As a suggestion, let's stand back with a blank white sheet of paper and draw the situation out. Do you need 1 (or more) x 15A lines, do you need 1 (or more) x 20 amp lines, or do you need a combination of both? If you can, ignore (for now) what you currently have installed. Figure out what you need and confirm by "doing the math". Then, determine how to get what you need.

If I remember correctly, a 110/120 Volt washing machine should be on a 20 Amp dedicated breaker. General basement lights and general usage outlets should be on 15 Amp breaker (on 14/2 wiring). No more then 10 outlets per 15A breaker. If you can, have your switches / lights and wall outlets on different breakers. For the math, assume 80% of wall outlets would be used at the exact same time - and its MAX "normal load" (which is different then turn-on "peak load") is less then 80% (of 15 Amp). If you know the appliance's AMP usage (like an organ, corner lamp, clock, etc. etc.) per wall outlet, use its real world numbers instead. But do remember to keep under 80% of circuits MAX load. Using real numbers is always more accurate then white board numbers. If you have an entertainment system in one area (like TV, DVD, CD, Tape Rewinder, etc.), may I suggest a "minimum" dedicated 15 Amp circuit. If normal ON load is more then 80% of 15 Amp, then install a 20 Amp dedicated breaker - using 12/2 wiring. Or, install 2 single 15 Amp wall outlets on 14/2 wires and balance your devices plugged into each individual outlet. 15 Amp wiring (often used for lights and general wall outlets) are 14/2 wiring.

I know... Sounds over kill. It may be for some places. But if you "do the math" and this is your long term home, spending extra time (and material cost) installing more electrical lines (on their own dedicated breakers) is well worth it. To keep costs low, do plan 1 electrical upgrade per year. Last year, I pulled in a dedicated 14/2 on 15A breaker for my computer system cluster. A few days again, I pulled in another 14/2 on 15A breaker for my TV's area. In Jan 2008, I want to do the same dedecated 15A on 14/2 wire for my main floor TV entertainment area. Use a white sheet diagrams and build to your "real world demand" end device appliance load numbers. Works for me...

Hope this helps as well...

.
 
 

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