I'm no electrician so I thought I would post a question. What's the maximum
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
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).
circuit breakers protect the wiring only. they do not protect the
equipment plugged into the outlet, and they do not protect you from
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.
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
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 .
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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