GFCI amp mismatch?

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Old 04-13-08, 12:16 PM
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Question GFCI amp mismatch?

Hello,
Yesterday we had a lightning strike surge enter the house wiring system resulting in an inoperative 20 amp gfci outlet in the garage. On the circuit is lights and 3 115v outlets with a fridge and invisible dog fence panel. I noticed that the panel circuit breaker for that circuit is a 15 amp with 14 gauge wiring but the gfci which was installed by an electrician at time of construction is 20 amp. Should I match the outlet to the circuit breaker or install the 20 amp outlet? If the latter, why? I have now found other gfci circuits with similar 'mismatched' setups?
In any wiring that I've done over the years I have always matched wiring gauge to loads, that is, 14g with 15amp and 12g with 20amp, etc.
Thanks for your attention.
Bill the OlGeezer confused homeowner in RI
 
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Old 04-13-08, 04:36 PM
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Does your 20 amp GFCI outlet have a "T" shaped neutral?

If so, you should replace it with at 15 amp version so that you will not be tempted to use a 20 amp appliance (which is rare) on a 15 amp circuit.

Both 15 and 20 amp GFCI outlets will be rated for 20 amp "feed-through". The only difference between them is the shape of the neutral slot.

GFCI is concerned with the current being equal on both the hot and neutral wires, not the current draw. It is designed to protect YOU. It is not designed to protect the wiring as the circuit breaker is.

Just a word of caution, make sure you look at the "load" and "line" terminals on the old and new GFCI and wire accordingly. The position of the terminals varies by brand. After you have installed the GFCI receptacle, test all of the downstream devices to make sure they have GFCI protection.
 
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Old 04-13-08, 09:21 PM
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Other than the t slot on the plug issue you are fine... The best analogy I can come up with for this is, If you have a stereo capable of 500 watts and speakers that are rated to 1000 watts you are just fine. Reverse that situation and you have a potential problem. The breaker will only pass 15 amp before tripping and the plug is good for 20 amp so no probs.
 
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Old 04-15-08, 08:07 AM
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Thanks Tha_Dub for responding.
 
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Old 04-15-08, 08:26 AM
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Thumbs up

Hello Strategery,

Thanks for responding, appreciate the generosity. When I finished part of the basement all the GFCI outlets/circuits are 20amp with T-slot outlets. In those circuits I wired with 12g romex and tested all outlets using a night light. I did know that a GFCI outlet is designed to protect the person but thought, too, that you had to 'match' wiring/circuit breaker to outlet.

Bill the OlGeezer
 
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Old 04-15-08, 10:47 AM
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Strategery is correct. In fact, it is against code to put a 20 amp receptacle on a 15 amp circuit for the very reason Strategery mention. You might be tempted to plug in a 20 amp device.
 
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Old 04-15-08, 04:29 PM
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I have a related question that I uncovered in my shop that I could use some guidance on. I have a 20A breaker feeding a 20A GFCI followed by downstream 15A non-GFCI outlets. The wiring from the GFCI to the downstream outlets is 14/2 w/ground.
My question is, do the 15A outlets and/or the 14 guage wires have a potential for shorts before the 20A breaker would trip and should they be replaced with 20A outlets and 12 guage wiring? I am making an assumption that I will never have enough load at any one time to exceed 15 amps total.

Thanks for the advise.

Yoandme

P.S. - I am in Washington state
 
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Old 04-16-08, 05:35 AM
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yoandme,

You didn't say what size wire runs to the first 20A GFCI. However, it doesn't really matter if you have 14/2 anywhere downstream. You should replace the wire or the breaker. If you replace the breaker, I would also change the GFCI to a 15A.

Since you mentioned that you never anticipate needing more that 15amps, changing the breaker/GFCI sounds like the way to go...cheap and quick.
 
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Old 04-17-08, 09:57 AM
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Thanks Randy for posting...good info and YoandMe thanks, too, for joining this post with your question.
Bill the OlGeezer in RI
 
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