Maximum Draw on a Household Circuit?

I'm no electrician so I thought I would post a question. What's the maximum draw that can be connected to a standard household circuit? I have a 200amp panel and just installed a circuit with numerous outlets and a fluorescent light fixture on a 15amp breaker with 12/2 Romex (Does that mean all equipment connected cannot exceed 15amps on this one circuit?). I put two duplex outlets together so I would have four connections in the basement, and then the wire was run to the garage to power the light as well as one duplex outlet. Just curious as I don't want to get in trouble.
You hear about people starting fires by connecting too many appliances to one outlet. I don't think I have that problem but want to make sure. The only things connected in the basement are low draw appliances (high speed modem, two routers and an ac adapter to charge the house alarm battery). Thanks...
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

You can draw 80% for continuous load. For example on a 15A breaker your load should not exceed 12A.
I put two

Its better to have the light on one circuit and the receptacles (GFCI in garage) on another but I guess you could mix it up if you have to.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Marc Miller wrote:

circuit breakers protect the wiring only. they do not protect the equipment plugged into the outlet, and they do not protect you from being shocked.
If you exceed the rating of the wire and the proper breaker is attached the breaker will trip. no worries.
fires are started from cheap multi-plug expander devices which are not rated for the current. Normal household plugs should be rated to match the wire which matches the circuitbreaker which prevents the fire.
--
Respectfully,


CL Gilbert
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

You can get in trouble.
You can run up to 12 amps (80%) on a 15a circuit. Yes, you can have more than one item connected, but you cannot use them all at the same time if they exceed the total allowed. That should also trip the breaker.
Now that you have a 200A panel, why would you run the circuit the way you did? You have three outlets and the garage light on one circuit. You are in the garage using the circular saw with the light on. Your wife decides she want to iron a curtain and plugs in the iron. The breaker trips and you are standing in the dark with saw in one hand and a board ready to fall apart in the other.
I'm not a licensed electrician but I do have some commons sense about circuits. I don't want my lights going out when I trip a breaker with a tool or appliance. The setup you have is only done by hacks, cheap SOBs or those to lazy to run separate circuits. Don't allow yourself to fall in those categories.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

maximum
wire
Just
The # 12 wire is good for 20 amps but the breaker you installed is only good for 15 amps. That means the breaker will trip way before the limit of the wire is exceeded. The light will use on eor two amps. This leaves 13 or 14 amps for the outlets. Nomater how many outlets you have the total will add and the current of all the outlets on the circuit and the light can not be more than the 15 amps the breaker is rated for .
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
If you try to operate to many appliances, tools, lights etc. at the same time on the circuit, the breaker will trip. That's your safety device. There is no problem mixing lights and outlets on that particular circuit, however to be safe and NEC legal, your general use outlets in unfinished basements and garages must be GFCI protected

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
RBM wrote:

I installed an outlet right next to my service panel. Does it need gfci? There was an outlet there already but i hear this is for the builders to use during house install. i have my switch and cable modem in the basement too.
--
Respectfully,


CL Gilbert
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
All outlets in unfinished areas of a basement are required by current NEC regulations to be GFCI protected. There are some exceptions to this,but they wouldn't apply to your general use outlet

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
RBM wrote:

Roger. Bought GFCI at Lowes today and will install next weekend probably. Looks simple enough considering I installed this outlet pair. I also installed the breaker and wiring. Im going to make sure the breaker matches the wiring again. The wiring is 14-2, I assume 14 is the gauge, but not sure what the 2 is. Plus I never pay attention to copper vs. AL. I dont recall matching the outlet to the wiring either. I gotta get my head around this stuff. fortunately its only milliamps.
My basement was unfinished when I moved in. The box which was already at the service panel was indeed a GFCI, the sump pump on other side of the house was not GFCI, unless its connected to some other GFCI somewhere which I doubt and surely hope not.
im having my basement finished now, and those newly installed are not GFCI.
--
Respectfully,


CL Gilbert
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
14/2 refes to the gauge and number of wires. In this instance, 14 is the gauge and2 means there are two wires (black and red, along with a ground which is not counted). 14 gauge is connected to a 15 amp breaker. 12 gauge would be connected to a 20 amp breaker.

GFCI.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
A 14/2 cable has three conductors: Black-White-Bare and yes 14 gauge goes on a 15 amp breaker and 12 gauge on a 20: Black wire to breaker and white to neutral bar and ground to either neutral bar or equipment ground bar depending on the panel

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I have a related question. I finished a basement a while ago and had a buttload of 12-2 wire around. I just did the whole thing with 12-2. The breakers were 15 or 20 amps based on what they were used for. Is this a fire hazard? I would think not because the wire would never heat up on the 15 amp circuit, but just wondering now that you guys are chatting about it.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@socket.net wrote:

Nope, thats not a fire hazaard. But it could mislead someone to up the breaker size noticing the breaker / wire mismatch. I don't know if its a code violation or not.
--
Respectfully,


CL Gilbert
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
You are perfectly safe, the 12 gauge wire can be connected to no larger than a twenty amp breaker.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
In alt.home.repair on Sun, 24 Jul 2005 09:26:23 -0400 "CL (dnoyeB)

Hmmm. I have several outlets in a finished wall, but the other three walls of the laundry room are not finished. Does it require GFCI

I have one of these too. It was meant for the washing machine, and that's what I use it for. No GFCI. House is 26 years old. Is there a problem?

Meirman -- If emailing, please let me know whether or not you are posting the same letter. Change domain to erols.com, if necessary.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I think there is some gray area as to what constitutes "unfinished" and that interpretation would be up to the inspector having jurisdiction. There are exceptions which include outlets for things like refrigerators and freezers in these locations
posted:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Marc Miller wrote:

Your question is based on a false premise. Connecting too many appliance to an outlet does not cause fires. Connecting too many appliance to an 0EXTENSION CORD causes fires because the cord can't carry the current.
Outlets are on a house circuit which is protected by a breaker. Too much current for the circuit and the breaker trips--no fire. Put too many appliance on a small cord, one that won't carry as much current as a house circuit, and the circuit breaker won't trip, the cord just gets hot and burns.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I'm not sure from your question if you understand it doesn't matter how many things are connected to one outlet. It only matters how many things are operating on the same circuit/breaker. If they are not turned on they don't matter. If wired according to codes it should not be possible to operate too many things on one circuit because the breaker will trip, but good practice says it's best not to draw more than about 12 amps on a 15 amp breaker.
jim
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
In alt.home.repair on Sun, 24 Jul 2005 21:24:37 GMT "George E.

This isn't 100% true. In my case, I only had one room heater, maybe 10 or 12 amps (I still have it if anyone wants to know what it's rated at.) connected to the receptacle and probably nothing more than a clock running on the rest of the circuit.
I woke up in the morning and was amazed to see one or two inch flames coming from the receptacle, where the cord was plugged in.
The problem was that the receptacle was from 1930, and the springiness in the metal was gone, I think. The plug used flat prongs with no springiness. But that apartment is still there 25 years later and I doubt it was rewired. The receptacle continued to work fine for me for a 150 watt tv, for years after.
The other problem was that my girlfriend was there with me, and as I'm trying to grab hold of the cord, she kept tugging on my arm. Every time I reached for it, she had just the right timing and tugged my arm back. By the fourth try I was awake enough, and I applied more strength than what is normally necessary to move just my arm, I overpowered her, reached the cord, pulled it out of the wall, and the fire went out in 3 or 4 seconds.
It was like a slapstick comedy, with the fire and my trying to put it out and her stopping me.
Receptacles, some of them pretty old already, will continue to get old and some will lose their springiness. I would be cautious about using them, especially for high currents. I think when I used the heater again, I had changed the plug with on that had the prongs folded back on themselves, with a space within each prong, with great springiness, and that worked fine. I also checked with my hand to make sure the plug and wall were not hot at all. But I didn't need the heater more than once or twice after that.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@noway.com wrote:

snipped
Actually, it is 100% true. What you had was not an over-current situation. You had a faulty connection that led to arcing at the receptacle. Circuit breakers do not protect against this until the wiring gets hot enough to melt the insulation and short out. Arc fault receptacles are available to day, and required by some codes in specific rooms, to protect against the situation you experienced.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.