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Old 12-29-2015, 08:26 AM   #15
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Typical household outlets in the U.S. are 15A. Some outlets are 20A and they look very similar to a 15A outlet - most people wouldn't know the difference between 15A and 20A. I've included pictures below. Notice the 20A has a T shape on one of the contacts. Your plug won't have a T shape so don't worry about that.
I have a question. In my home I have 20 amp breakers but the outlets don't have the T shape. Is the T shape for a dedicated 20 amp outlet, no other outlets on the same circuit, or did my contractor just not provide them?
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Old 12-29-2015, 08:33 AM   #16
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Same here. The garage is wired for 20 amps yet the plugs look normal (no T). BTW. I've run the water heater on electric and a space heater at the same time. Turn on the microwave and the circuit pops. No big deal. Just reset the breaker and turn one of the other appliances off.
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Old 12-29-2015, 12:14 PM   #17
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I have a question. In my home I have 20 amp breakers but the outlets don't have the T shape. Is the T shape for a dedicated 20 amp outlet, no other outlets on the same circuit, or did my contractor just not provide them?
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Same here. The garage is wired for 20 amps yet the plugs look normal (no T). BTW. I've run the water heater on electric and a space heater at the same time. Turn on the microwave and the circuit pops. No big deal. Just reset the breaker and turn one of the other appliances off.
That's a good question and I don't know the answer. I hope somebody with more experience will chime in.

I installed two circuits in our house that needed to be 20A dedicated circuits. One for a large air compressor and one for a basement sump pump. In both cases the breaker is rated at 20A and the outlet is the T shape. Don't know if that's overkill or not.

Looking at the existing circuits in my breaker box I see a variety of 15 and 20 amp breaker switches with no apparent rhyme or reason as to the rating. All the other circuits (except the dedicated circuits) serve a variety of wall outlets and ceiling lights.

Back to the 15A outlets common in most houses. There are usually several outlets on the same circuit. You can't really draw 15A from every outlet.
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Old 12-29-2015, 01:36 PM   #18
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Back to the 15A outlets common in most houses. There are usually several outlets on the same circuit. You can't really draw 15A from every outlet.
This is pretty close to the correct answer. When there are multiple outlets on a 20a branch circuit then 15a outlets are OK.

It's not the receptacle that is important in this case. It's the plug that goes into the receptacle. If the device that plugs into the receptacle is rated at 20a, then it will have one prong at right angles so it will only go into a 20a rated receptacle. But the same receptacle is also able to accept any lower rated 15a appliances.
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Old 12-29-2015, 03:35 PM   #19
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It has to do with $$$$$. 15 amp outlets are less expensive than 20 amp outlets. In 99% of the time 15 amp outlets are fine.
Not sure how the electrical inspectors let the installers get by with installing 15 amp equipment on a 20 amp circuit.
Circuit breakers are sized to protect the wire and installed devices such as outlets. Not what is plugged into those outlets.
If you have a 15 amp outlet connected to a 20 amp circuit breaker and that outlet is drawing 18 amps because of whatever is plugged in. The outlet will probably overheat and may cause a fire. IMHO
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Old 12-29-2015, 07:05 PM   #20
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Not sure how the electrical inspectors let the installers get by with installing 15 amp equipment on a 20 amp circuit.
Circuit breakers are sized to protect the wire and installed devices such as outlets. Not what is plugged into those outlets.
If you have a 15 amp outlet connected to a 20 amp circuit breaker and that outlet is drawing 18 amps because of whatever is plugged in. The outlet will probably overheat and may cause a fire. IMHO
Electrical inspectors let installers get by with it because Code allows it.

Circuit breakers are sized to protect the wire and installed devices. And the outlet is rated for 20a passthrough. Even though the outlet is called a "15a Duplex Outlet", the internal connections are sized to handle 20 amps. A properly installed outlet will not overheat and cause a fire.

If you have two 9a appliances plugged into a 15a duplex outlet, the outlet will be fine if it is connected to a 20a breaker with the correct size wire.
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