Home Electricity
New Electrical Work
Modification of Old Electrical Work

Can you use 15A outlets on a 20A circuit with 12-2 wire and a 20A breaker and how many outlets would this allow?


Top Answer
User Avatar
Wiki User
2009-11-24 09:15:55
2009-11-24 09:15:55

I'm going to assume you are referring to residential construction because rules for commercial and industrial settings can be different. Also rules differ by geography (i.e. Canada specifies a maximum of 8 outlets on a 15 amp circuit, USA code is silent on the issue but for practical purposes, more than about 10 will likely lead to poor performance. Some code also specifies max loading of a 20 amp circuit at 80% making 10 outlets the practical limit if using 20 amp outlets on that circuit.

To expand on the previous answer a little, there is a large margin of safety in the construction of these components but if you think about it, you are placing a component that is rated at 15 amps into a 20 amp circuit. That outlet is potentially the weakest link in the circuit and could act like a fuse. If any of those 15 amp outlets are overloaded, it might overheat and fail before the circuit breaker. This is a recipe for a fire. You may think now that you'll remember to only plug in light loads, but these things have a habit of growing.

You can plug typical small home appliances (lamp, stereo, TV, etc.) into a 20 amp outlet so the only benefit in using the 15 amp outlet is the minor cost savings at installation. If it were my building, I wouldn't risk it.

If I can't talk you out of doing this and it's allowed by your applicable code, make sure you don't daisy-chain the circuit through the outlets. (In other words, don't run your 12-2 wire in one side of the outlet and out the other side.) Instead, use a pigtail (short piece of wire) to tap off your line to each individual outlet.


In the United States you can run 20 amp breakers with 15 amp outlets but not in Canada. And for how many? About 10 to be on safe side as long as they are all low amp usage appliances. TVs, steros, fans, lamps.


You can run 20 amp breaker with 12-2 wire as long as you make sure you use the 12-2 wire that is rated at 20 amp.

Whilst this was not your exact question it is worth saying IT IS NEVER SAFE to run a 20 amp load through a 15 amp receptacle. It is only rated to handle up to 15 amps.


As always, if you are in doubt about what to do, the best advice anyone should give you is to call a licensed electrician to advise what work is needed.

Before you do any work yourself,
on electrical circuits, equipment or appliances,
always use a test meter to ensure the circuit is, in fact, de-energized.



Related Questions

User Avatar

There are tow places to put a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. There is a GFCI breaker which would be installed in a breaker box and a GFCI outlet that can be installed anywhere. Most GFCI outlets allow you to connect regular outlets to the GFCI and those outlets will also be protected.

User Avatar

It would be quite unusual to have a single 60 amp circuit with outlets and lights. You would have to use very heavy wire to each light and outlet. Typical lighting circuits would be protected by 15 amp breaker and a circuit with general purpose receptacles would have a 20 amp breaker. A typical lighting circuit might have 10 to 12 fixtures and receptacle circuit might have 8 outlets. If you don't know how to size a circuit get an electrician.

User Avatar

Somewhere you have a loose or broken connection.

User Avatar

its an overload on the circuit breaker the 3 outlets are on.. many times groups of outlets are on different circuit breakers.. even though they are in the same room... especially if some are on a gfi outlet

User Avatar

Blown fuse or circuit breaker. Wires loose on another outlet in that run feeding that bedroom's outlets.

Copyright © 2020 Multiply Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved. The material on this site can not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with prior written permission of Multiply.