When working with electrical appliances or circuits, you need to have thorough knowledge about everything. The electrical panel in your home includes a circuit breaker, which has been designed in a way to improve safety. If you are working with the 20 amp circuit, you might have several questions in your mind.
If you want to get the answer to your questions about the number of outlets that can be wired on one electrical circuit, you can check this guide. Here we will try figuring out everything about the 20 amp circuit and understand its limits.
What is 20-Amp circuit?
A 20 amp circuit mostly refers to the amp rating. It determines the amount of current flow on it. Most of the devices available in your homes are generally rated with 20 amp or 15 amp. This is why it is crucial for you to have an understanding of which can be installed and also circuit breaker limits.
The rating tells the amount of current that can flow through the circuit. AMP is the unit that denotes current measurement. The rating for the amp in the circuit is associated with its wire size. This also determines the circuit breaker‘s amp rating, which is connected to it. It helps you to understand the number of outlets that one can install on the circuit and not overload it.
Most of the 20 amp circuit is connected to 12 gauge wire or 10 gauge wire. Additionally, you can also find 14 gauge wire which has the ability to carry a 15 amp current. But for your 20 amps circuit, it is recommended to choose at least 12 gauge wire. Using 14 gauge wire on 20 amps will result in overload and can cause overheating, power surge, or electrical fire.
Which Type of Devices Can be Run Using a 20 Amp Circuit?
20 amp outlets can be easily recognized by their horizontal slot, which extends from vertical ones. It is the prime difference between 15 amp. You can potentially use microwaves and also other electrical appliances that need high voltage. It is mostly designed to run small house appliances.
According to NEC, every home needs a least two 20 amp circuits for kitchen countertops. Following are the appliances that can run on a 20 amp circuit.
- Space heaters
- Vacuum cleaners
- Freestanding lamps.
- Home entertainment systems
- Microwave ovens
Other heavy-duty electrical appliances that need 20 dedicated amp circuits are:
- Cloth washers
What is a Receptacle?
As it sounds, a receptacle is present in every house. These are the outlets that are generally used for plugging devices that require electricity to function. When you have the switch for the light on a similar circuit as the other electric outlets, which controls the overall light but not the outlet, that switch is considered a receptacle.
How Many Outlets on a 20 Amp Circuit Breaker?
When it comes to the receptacle or outlets that one can design on a 20 amp circuit, you can do as many as you need. It is a preferred choice when you need multiple outlets to distribute the power. However, there are always some chances of overheated wire, which can be destructive for other electric appliances in your home.
So, creating a properly designed load management plan is always recommended. But how can you calculate the number of outlets that are considered safe on a 20-amp circuit?
Watts = Amps x Volts
Most US homes have been installed with 120V circuits; we know the current flow is 20 amps. Hence, you can go up to 2400 Watts with a 20 amp circuit and 120V. Theoretically, you can install up to 13 devices on a 20-amp circuit. If you count, 13 devices with 1.5 amps will need 19.5 amps, but generally, it is not a practical choice. The reason is that when you occupy 90% of a circuit, it is prone to tripping.
So, NEC recommends using the 80% rule. This means limiting the loading in the circuit and its breaker to 80% or less. Following the 80% rule for 20 amps makes it 16 amps. This is 1920 Watts on the 120 V circuit. Therefore, using 10 receptacles on a 20 amp circuit is based on the formula discussed above.
“1.5 amp x 16 amps = 10.67 devices.”
This rule is strictly recommended to avoid electrical hazards.
Understanding the limitations will always be helpful in reducing the chances of tripping and electrical fires.
1. Allowable Breaker Load
There is no limit to the number of receptacles that you want to use on the 20 amp circuit set by the NEC, but when you run more appliances from one circuit, it will overload the breaker than it is designed to handle. Following the 80% rule specified by NEC can be helpful unless the breaker has been labeled differently. So, make sure that the current flow must not exceed 16 amps for a 20 amp circuit. It allows the circuit breakers to manage the need for a current surge while switching Ac or a power saw.
2. Avoid Overloading
When it comes to an understanding the number of receptacles that one can add to the 20 amp circuit, it is vital to determine the things that you are most likely to plug into it. To ensure the safety of other appliances and families, make sure that it should not exceed 10 amps. This means the power drawing capacity is 1920 watts. This is for a 120 V circuit. Even when the circuit won’t break until 2400V, preventing overloading is always the best step.
How Can I Properly Manage My Outlets?
If you want to know how to manage the outlets, you need to spread the loading evenly. It can be helpful to distribute power consumption in the breakers present in the panel combining electrical outlets and lights. This is because lights generally require significantly less current than other appliances.
While deciding on the number of outlets, make sure that you have at least two outlets in your kitchen, each designed on a different circuit. In any case a breaker trips, you will still get the power. You can also add lights on the circuit to distribute load and avoid any type of issues. However, other kitchen appliances like kitchen dishwashers need a dedicated circuit. This means you cannot include even lights on that circuit. Spreading current in different circuits is the best way to manage the outlets.
What Type of Outlet is Used in a 20 Amp Circuit?
Most commonly, the 20 amp circuits are known as the general receptacle and dedicated circuits. When you properly use them for the intended purpose, they will not break. These outlets are most commonly found in laundry and kitchens.
You can easily recognize 20 amp outlets. Even when it looks similar to the 15 amp, the 20 amp includes T shape holes for the plugs.
So, you have received the answer for how many outlets you can use on the 20 amp circuit. Make sure to follow the 80% rule by NEC, which comes to a maximum of 10 outlets. As these outlets are generally used for heavy-duty kitchen and laundry appliances, keeping a buffer to provide the electrical surge required while switching on the devices is better.
If there is a need for other outlets, it is better to install another 20 amp circuit and divide equally in the two circuits to avoid any damage.