feeding a 20 amp receptical off of a 15 amp receptical

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Old 12-04-12, 10:04 PM
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feeding a 20 amp receptical off of a 15 amp receptical

Hi everyone,

Kinda/Sorta new to electrical projects. Im starting small by re-wiring some of the circuits in my house. I plan to replace a 15 amp breaker with a 20 amp breaker and run 12:2 romex for a new 20 amp circuit for my kitchen with one dual 20 amp receptical for my refrigerator and oven, and a few 15 amp recepticals for misc use. I understand that I am able to hook up multiple 15 amp recepticals on a 20 amp circuit, but my question is.....

does hooking up 15 amp recepticals limit the amps available farther down the circuit? In other words, is it okay to feed a 20 amp receptical off of a 15 amp receptical, or should I start with the 20 amp to feed the 15 amps? Does it matter? should I just use all 20 amp recepticals?

I hope that question makes sense. Thanks in advance,

-Ben
 
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Old 12-04-12, 10:12 PM
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is it okay to feed a 20 amp receptical off of a 15 amp receptica
Yes 15 amp receptacles are 20 amp pass through but why would you? Residential electrical equipment is almost always is less then 15 amps and have 15 amp plugs. What are you plugging in that needs a 20 amp receptacle?

should I just use all 20 amp recepticals?
Only if your in Canada and your location doesn't indicate that.
 
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Old 12-04-12, 10:21 PM
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I just assumed that a big appliance, like the refrigerator, would be better off on a 20 amp receptical. No real premise for that assumption, other than thats what the guy at home depot told me....
 
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Old 12-04-12, 10:34 PM
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big appliance, like the refrigerator, would be better off on a 20 amp... thats what the guy at home depot told me....
Not true.

Oh and a refrigerator is not a high draw device. Your wife's hair blower is and it only has a 15 amp plug. If it fits a 15 amp receptacle you don't need a 20 amp receptacle.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 12-05-12 at 07:28 AM. Reason: Clarification.
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Old 12-05-12, 05:26 AM
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and a few 15 amp recepticals for misc use
Unless this "misc use" is for small appliance countertop use. You must have GFCI protected separate 20 amp circuits (2) in the kitchen.
 
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Old 12-05-12, 05:58 AM
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Yep, misc use is just that, small countertop appliances. Toaster, microwave, blender, etc...

thanks for the replies, you all have cleared everything up for me. I guess I'll hold on to that 20 amp receptacle for a later use of needed.
 
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Old 12-05-12, 06:05 AM
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Just to clarify post #5. You must have two (2) separate 20 amp circuits feeding the countertop receptacles, and they can't feed anything else like lighting, but can feed other receptacles in the kitchen, dining and pantry areas, and they must be GFCI protected over the counters. Your OP suggested you were only running one circuit for the refrigerator and a few misc use receptacles. The receptacles themselves will be ok at 15 amps since you are feeding through them, so no problems there. I was just wanting to reiterate about what is required.
 

Last edited by pcboss; 12-05-12 at 06:12 AM. Reason: expanded SABC usages
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Old 12-05-12, 08:17 AM
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I'm confused as to why I would need two separate circuits for this. I'm not feeding any lights or switches. this is only receptacles. One dual for my refrigerator and oven, the rest for countertop appliances.

New question: If I don't need a 20 amp receptacle for my refrigerator (as I foolishly assumed), can I just run all 15 amp receptacles on a 20 amp circuit? I have already roughed in the 12:2 through the walls. since the walls are all finished, I needed to tape the new wire to the old so I could run it throught the finished walls by yanking out the old wire. I'd rather not have to do that again with 14:2 and a 15 amp breaker if I don't have to.

just to be perfecly clear on what I want to do, I'm running a new circuit for my kitchen only in this order...

(20 amp breaker)---> (12:2 romex)---> (15 amp dual GFCI receptacle)---> (15 amp dual receptacle)---> (15 amp dual receptacle) *end of circuit*
 
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Old 12-05-12, 08:51 AM
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Thanks for the clarification, Jim. I was just assuming he was terminating at the countertops.

Brholte, the NEC requires two separate circuits to the kitchen countertop receptacles. Two circuits, two GFCI's then the other downline protected receptacles. Please flush the idea of the differences between 15 amp and 20 amp receptacles. Use 15 amp receptacles altogether. If you look at the receptacles (15 vs 20) basically all you will see is the difference in the blade acceptance. It is the "protection" you need, via the 20 amp breakers and two separate circuits.
Unless you do it that way, it won't pass inspection, and could jeopardize insurance on your dwelling.

We don't make the rules, we just want you to be safe and not have to do it all over again.
 
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Old 12-05-12, 10:00 AM
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Okay, so apparently, for countertop receptacles, I need two(2) separate 20 amp breakers on my panel feeding two separate circuits each with the first receptacle being a GFCI. Other appliances, such as refrigerator and oven/range need circuits of their own.

Unfortunately, after removing the face of my panel and haviing a look inside, it seems that my "small starter project" is a can of worms I probably shouldn't do myself.

the circuit I was replacing is done with 14g wire on a 15 amp circuit.... I also couldn't help but notice that this 15 amp breaker has two(2) hot wires connected to it. The second is going off to feed a separate circuit in my dining room (I'm assuming the one outlet as well as the ceiling light and switch.

My 100 amp panel is completely tapped out and there are three other breakers that are also double tapped. I believe its time for me to call a licensed electrician to upgrade my service and help me re-wire the house. sounds expensive
 
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Old 12-05-12, 10:07 AM
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Unless there is a local amendment the refrigerator can be on one of the 20 amp small appliance circuits.

Some breakers are listed for use with 2 conductors.

A subpanel would be a cheaper alternative to a service upgrade. If you are adding circuits to equipment that is already in place you do not need an upgrade, just breaker space.
 
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Old 12-05-12, 10:24 AM
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Jim, would you also bring the refrigerator off the LINE side of the GFCI to prevent nuisance trips?
 
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Old 12-05-12, 11:23 AM
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Some breakers are listed for use with 2 conductors.
In theory then: I could purchase a 15 amp breaker listed for use with 2 conductors.... replace one of the regular 15 amp breakers with it.... and re-route that second circuit to that new breaker and then I have an open slot for my new 20 amp kitchen breaker?

Is there a point when you just shouldn't do that? will it begin to overload the panel if there are too many double tapped breakers?

One point I want to add here, if its important... I am not adding or subtracting the number of recptacles originally available. The reason I started to do this was to MOVE one of the receptacles to a new location so I can move my refrigerator to a different spot. The whole "new circuit" idea came about because the old wire wasn't long enough to reach the new location. I figured I would just upgrade the circuit with newer wire and receptacles at the same time.

upgrading the service and re-wiring the whole house was a job I wanted to save up for at a later date... say a couple years from now. that would be part of a much LARGER project that would involve a gut job of the house so that I can get rid of the plaster walls and properly insulate the outter walls, upgrade windows and get rid of asbestos siding, etc.... That is when an entire re-wiring of the house would be ideally done since the majority of the walls in the house would be nothing but bare studs.

All I wanted to do was move a receptacle for the short term. since I've already yanked the old BX wire used in this circuit from the walls, I'm kinda stuck here.
 
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Old 12-05-12, 11:30 AM
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It depends on what you are stacking on the 15 amp breaker. If the first 15 amp breaker had a normal load on it, and you doubled it up on another 15 amp breaker with a normal load already on it, then you would be overloading the, now, stand alone 15 amp breaker. I think Jim's idea of a subpanel would benefit you the best. That way you can have the space you need without trying to "make do" with what you have.
 
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Old 12-05-12, 11:36 AM
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A breaker must be certified for use in your panel. Most panels do not use breakers that will accommodate two wires.
 
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Old 12-05-12, 11:41 AM
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For right now it should be acceptable to put a pig-tail on the 15 amp breaker and then wire-nut to wires together.

You didn't post much about your existing panel. It may be rated to replace some of the breakers with tandems.
 
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Old 12-05-12, 11:52 AM
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For right now it should be acceptable to put a pit-tail on the 15 amp breaker
It won't work if the two 15 amp circuits are already pretty close to limit. They will overload a single 15 amp breaker if combined.

Still think a subpanel is best.
 
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Old 12-05-12, 12:04 PM
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two more questions before I proceed.

For right now it should be acceptable to put a pig-tail on the 15 amp breaker and then wire-nut to wires together.[
is this essentially double tapping a breaker without connecting two conductors to it (ie: connecting the conductors of two wires to the one on the breaker)?

It won't work if the two 15 amp circuits are already pretty close to limit. They will overload a single 15 amp breaker if combined.
is there a tool I can buy that measures the amount of amperage used on a circuit to determine if they are able to be combined?


blah... I'm going to start calling electricians. Having someone just install a temporary sub-panel until I'm ready to overhaul my whole house sounds like the simplest way to go. How did this tiny job of moving a receptacle turn into this???

Thanks for taking the time to respond to my un-ending amature questions. I really do appreciate it.
 
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Old 12-05-12, 12:38 PM
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Go to your local mega-mart homecenter and purchase the book Wiring Simplified. It will most likely be found in the electrical aisle, not the books and magazine section. Read it cover to cover and then you will understand the WHY things are done the way they are in electrical work. The cost is less than $10 and it will be the best ten dollars you will ever spend.
 
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Old 12-05-12, 01:28 PM
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There should be no need for the refrigerator to be feed from the line side of the GFI. If it is functioning correctly there should be no issue.
 
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Old 12-05-12, 03:55 PM
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In theory then: I could purchase a 15 amp breaker listed for use with 2 conductors.... replace one of the regular 15 amp breakers with it.... and re-route that second circuit to that new breaker and then I have an open slot for my new 20 amp kitchen breaker?
Originally Posted by Astuff
You didn't post much about your existing panel. It may be rated to replace some of the breakers with tandems.
In fact, you haven't told us much about your panel at all, beyond that it's a 100 amp panel

But it sounds like it may be full of full-height breakers, with few, if any, half-height, or tandem, breakers, and even fewer piggyback breakers. A pair of tandem breakers will give you protection for two separate circuits in one full-height one-inch space. A pair of half-height piggyback breakers will give you protection for four circuits in that same space.

Using those, you could install one 15A half-height piggyback breaker and use that to protect two of your existing 15A circuits. Then you could install a 20A half-height piggyback breaker next to it and have those two circuits available to feed both of your small appliance circuits in the kitchen.

Mod Note: Not all panels can accept tandems. The label inside the panel will tell if they can be used.

Check your panel label to see what the acceptable breaker types are. Just write all of the unintelligible codes on a piece of paper and take it with you when you go shopping for Wiring Simplified. And BTW, if they don't have the book in the store, you can always order it online.
 

Last edited by pcboss; 12-05-12 at 04:31 PM.
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Old 12-05-12, 03:59 PM
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I was thinking of mentioning this before you asked, Larry. Preventing nuisance tripping is one of the reasons I either feed the refrigerator off the LINE terminals or just hit it, in-and-out, on the way to the counter. Same thing - without worrying about nuisance tripping - for the controls for gas cooking appliances. Such as ovens.
 
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Old 12-05-12, 04:37 PM
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The UL allowable leakage current is about 1/10th the level that a GFI should trip at. If the refrigerator trip the GFI there is a problem.
 
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Old 04-05-14, 04:15 PM
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Refrigerator and GFCI

The reason for putting the refrigerator before the GFCI is that you don't want your refrigerator shut off by a nuisance trip created by something else. If you still want GFCI protection you can then have the refrigerator outlet on its own GFCI and not connect any other load.
 
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Old 04-05-14, 09:13 PM
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Ross, if you have any knowledge about gfi's or read the thread you would see a trip is not a nuisance. It is a sign there is a malfunction and the GFI is shutting off to protect someone.
 
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