15 amp rated light switch and outlets on a 20 amp circuit breaker

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Hi again. I started a new thread because the old one was getting filled up. Below are my basic questions I would like answered if someone could please help me out so I know if I have to go back and replace some switches and/or receptacles. Thanks.
I have 15 amp rated light switches on a 20 amp circuit. These light switches in most cases control overhead lights (in a kitchen, garage, dining room). Is this alright, or do I need to use 20 amp rated light switches?
Also, on a 20 amp circuit, I have 15 amp rated electrical outlets? Is this alright? Some of these outlets are controlled by a 15 amp light switch as well, is that alright? Thanks for any help.
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Geez, didn't you get enough answers last time?
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Actually, my questions weren't answered directly, kind of got the talk around. Sorry to bug you.

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(Amazon.com product link shortened)

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On Fri, 29 Apr 2005 21:18:44 GMT, "Eric and Megan Swope"

The short answer is it's probably ok. The longer answer is that you should buy, borrow, or steal a code-book (an obsolete one will do fine) read the relevent sections.
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Eric and Megan Swope wrote:

It's okay. Worse case, you put 19 amps worth of lights on the switch which eventually melts causing a short which trips the circuit breaker.
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wrote:

change those 20 amp breakers to 15s. if there's a fire, you'd have some splaining to do. and when you tell the insurance man that you got your advice on an internet newsgroup, his head will not stop shaking. sideways. not up-and-down. ...thehick
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When getting our new home wired in 1998, I asked the electrician to use 12G instead of 14 GA. They did but then used 20A breakers....and 15A outlets and switches. I asked about that and they said there would be no problem, that it was OK by code
R.
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Thanks Rudy. I know from reading your post that your electrician used 20 amp breakers with 12 gauge wire. I know 14 gauge wire can not be used on anything over 15 amps, but I believe 12 gauge wire can be used on 15 amp breakers with no harm correct?

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That's correct. 14ga copper is the *minimum* for 15A circuits.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?
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I assumed it could..they described it (12GA) as "overkill" I didnt ask for the 20A breakers..they just ended up in there
R
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Replies are in line
Eric and Megan Swope wrote:

is fifteen amperes or fewer.

twenty ampere circuits in US practice. Using a fifteen ampere switch to control more than one fifteen ampere outlet on a twenty ampere circuit is not OK because you would be using the switch to control loads that may be more than it is tested to control. A fifteen ampere switch should not control more than a single fifteen ampere receptacle on a twenty ampere circuit. On a fifteen ampere circuit it would be perfectly acceptable to use a fifteen ampere switch to control the entire circuit. -- Tom H
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Thanks Tom. On the 20 amp circuit, the 15 amp light switch controls only one 15 amp outlet, not more, so according to your response, this is acceptable?

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Eric and Megan Swope wrote:

-- Tom H
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You and half the people in the US have this setup. Unless you are powering the high powered lighting in a commercial warehouse or arena, there is no problem. For example. you might have 6 lights on a switch in your garage, if it's well lit. (I have 6 in mine). Most people use 100W bulbs in a garage. A rough figure is one amp per 100 watts. That means 6 100W bulbs is drawing 6 amps. This is not a problem at all. It's unlikely any fixture in the house will use that much. A 15A switch could actually handle 14 100W bulbs before it became an issue. Personally, I have 15A breakers on the lighting in my garage and 20A breakers on the outlets. But that's mostly just because I had some #14 romex and wanted to use it up on the lights. I should note, i have all CF (compact florescent) bulbs in my garage, the ones that put out equivalant to 100W but use around 20W. I just do this to save electric. So, when I have 6 of them in use, i am only consuming 120W total, and have a nice bright garage. In the winter they are a little slow to get bright though, so I often replace at least one of them with standard bulbs. But in winter I dont tend to spend much time in the garage anyhow. Too flipping cold !!!
If, however, you are using a light switch to control a motor or other heavy use item, then you should not use the standard cheapo 15A switches. But for lighting, you are fine. I'd be more concerned about using 15A receptacles on a 20A circuit. Yet, most of us do it, because most of the time the load is spread out over several outlets. However, I have 2 outlets that I was sure to use a 20A receptacle. My air compressor outlet in the garage, and my air conditioner one in the house.
Mark
On Fri, 29 Apr 2005 21:18:44 GMT, "Eric and Megan Swope"

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Yes, with the assumption that the controlled devices are 15 amps or less total.
If you are actually going to be switching high amperage always on circuits, you are better off spending a few more bucks on a really good switch, that will hold up, and not burn out.
For just a single 60w bulb, a cheap switch is ok.

It is probably better that way, with the 15 amp outlets that are controlled, since they will prevent 20 amp plugs from being plugged in.
Note, as an American, I've not seen any 20 amp appliances, they are not at all common.
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If your house was wired correctly - #14 Romex on the 15 amp circuits and #12 Romex on the 20 amp circuits, you'll find that you'll have a hard time getting the #12 wire to fit in a switch or recepticle rated for 15 amps if you use the push terminals (and not the screws).
20 amp outlets and switches cost only pennies more than 15 amp ones. Spend the extra buck or two for the proper equipment and do it right the first time.
If you find that you have #14 Romex on a 20 amp circuit - change out the breaker for a 15 amp one.
All easy to do - but if you have misgivings or are unsure of things, have a licensed electrician do the work for you.

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Let me rephrase...
#12 Romex = 20 amp circuit = 20 amp circuit breaker = use 20 amp rated outlets/switches #14 Romex = 15 amp circuit = 15 amp circuit breaker = use 15 amp rated outlets/switches
#14 Romex is slightly thinner and somewhat more flexible and easier to work with than #12.
#12 Romex will not fit in a 15 amp outlet. #14 will fit in a 20 amp outlet, but it won' t be a tight connection (if it feels loose or has play in the connection - you're using an outlet rated higher than the circuit).
You can run 15 amp outlets on a 20 amp circuit - no issues there, but for the ease of wiring it up - it's best to use the outlet matched to the circuit (I found this out the hard way when putting new outlets in a house we just bought - our dining room is on a 20 amp kitchen circuit - was bit of a bitch connecting #12 wire to the screw terminals since I couldn't push them into the holes made for #14 wire).
If you stay consistent with your wiring, it'll be easier down the road when you need to change out switches / outlets.

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Thanks Les. I know the house is wired correctly, 12 gauge on a 20 amp, 14 gauge on a 15 amp. The house is 40 years old, and when we bought it 2 years ago, they only had the 2 prong outlets. I replaced them with 3 pronged outlets, and used the same rating that was on the old 2 prong ones, 15 amp. I just heard from others in this newsgroup that my outlets and switches should match the breaker they are on (20 amp breaker, 20 amp rated switches and outlets). I was lucky, I used the screw terminals, original electrician left plenty of extra wire in the box, so it wasn't hard attaching the wire to the screw terminal. I was more concerned for safety, especially since we now have a 1 week old baby.
I know there are 15 amp rated switches and 15 amp rated outlets on a 20 amp breaker. The 15 amp switches either control a 15 amp rated outlet, or overhead lights (no more than one 100 watt bulb per switch). If my situation doesn't create a fire hazard, I would certainly love to spend the time with my new son, but if it is a safety issue, then I will have to squeeze in some home repair time.
If you get a chance to give me your opinion again, I would appreciate it.

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You haven't been listening - this is *not* correct. 15A receptacles on a 20A circuit is _perfectly_fine_.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?
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