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Old 04-05-2012, 08:46 AM   #1
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Downgrage 20amp to 15amp


Hello to all,

Being new to the forum I apologize if something like this has already been asked/answered. I am not an electrician so please feel free to scold me any way you like . These days I am bashing my head against the wall and need help.

I recently remodeled a corner of my house that had an electrical fireplace built into the corner wall. I removed it but as far as I remember it never worked (well, I never needed to use it anyway, it weighs a ton and can't bring it back up to reconnect and test). It used a 15a Standard Single Pole Toggle Switch (UPC 785007191127). I believe the circuit is a dedicated 20amp one. The fuse is 20amps. The cable is pretty stiff so I think it is 12 ga (will check). Before I closed up the wall I could see it drop through the floor and get routed towards the main electrical panel (my basement is unfinished so I can see it going through the beams and disappearing behind the finished garage wall where the main panel is located).

Here's where my problem is:
I bought an electrical wall mount fireplace, cut and spliced its power cable to the toggle switch. I mounted it and it worked normally with the flame imitation. I had a party to celebrate and while I was showing off we heard a loud pop and, as I found out once I opened it, a blower fan motor had failed. So I pegged the issues at crappy design. I returned it.
I now have a different unit that requires a 15a/125v outlet. I had bought a 20amp duplex receptacle to change from the toggle switch that I described above. I did not break the tabs so both the receptacles were fed by the 20amp circuit.
Almost as soon as I plugged it in the unit's surge protection varistor blew up along with a ceramic fuse. The unit did not even turn on, the on/off red switch was in the on position. I plugged it in, pop, unplugged it. The varistor was a TVR 10271 and the ceramic fuse had the following markings on it: 2a250v.
I bought replacements from mouser.com:
TVR10271 became this.
2a250v became this.
I also bought a 15a duplex receptacle and at present that is what is installed. I read online that you can use a 15a duplex receptacle on a 20a circuit so long as you do not break the tabs to have dedicated circuits for each receptacle. I live in Duluth, Georgia, so if anyone knows local codes please chime in.

After I carefully soldered the replacements in it, again, blew up a second after I plugged it in. The resoldered varistor blew up again but the fuse was spared this time. (maybe it never got to that).

My questions are:
1. Аm I doing something wrong? Probably.
2. Am I jinxed in buying crappy equipment? You don't have to answer that I already figured I am
3. Electricity is not my forte so, again, do chime in with explanations. I am a firm believer that there are no stupid questions just questions you either know or do not know the answer to so here's my "stupid question": Using a 15 amp receptacle on a 20 amp circuit - would a piece of equipment use up to 15 amps (since that's what the receptacle is rated for) or would it be "fed" 20amps whether it likes it or not? As in, can the receptacle limit or reduce the draw to 15amps?
4. Am I okay just purchasing a 15amp fuse and swapping out the 20amp with it. As in, downgrade a 20amp to a 15 amps fuse. Again, cable is most likely 12ga, it was pretty stiff. I'll post a confirmation of the cable when I get back today.

Thank you all for your answers.

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Old 04-05-2012, 08:51 AM   #2
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Downgrage 20amp to 15amp


Does the cable run from the panel directly to a receptacle behind the unit? Is the switch still involved? How is this wired? Was the old unit 120 or 240 volts?

The issue should have nothing to do with the 20 amp over the 15 amp protection.

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Old 04-05-2012, 08:52 AM   #3
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Downgrage 20amp to 15amp


Sounds like the unit is seeing 240V instead of 120V. Are these true fuses or circuit breakers?
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Old 04-05-2012, 09:38 AM   #4
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Downgrage 20amp to 15amp


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Does the cable run from the panel directly to a receptacle behind the unit? Is the switch still involved? How is this wired? Was the old unit 120 or 240 volts?

The issue should have nothing to do with the 20 amp over the 15 amp protection.
I believe it does run from panel to receptacle. Switch is no longer in play. From memory - Ground to ground, black on right, white on left. Followed the picture on the receptacle box.
Old unit could be both 120 and 240. I think I read it would be 240 when directly wired (like I had it).
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Old 04-05-2012, 09:39 AM   #5
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Downgrage 20amp to 15amp


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Sounds like the unit is seeing 240V instead of 120V. Are these true fuses or circuit breakers?

Thanks for replying, not sure what you mean. It is an electrical panel in my basement, all of them have on/off state.
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Old 04-05-2012, 09:45 AM   #6
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Downgrage 20amp to 15amp


If you are supplying 240 to a 120 unit you will let the smoke out and ruin the unit. The voltage must match whatever input is required.
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Old 04-05-2012, 09:46 AM   #7
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Downgrage 20amp to 15amp


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Thanks for replying, not sure what you mean. It is an electrical panel in my basement, all of them have on/off state.
Was trying to determine if you have screw-in fuses or circuit breakers. If circuit breakers, does the one controlling this circuit look like two breakers tied together or is it just a single breaker?
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Old 04-05-2012, 10:08 AM   #8
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Downgrage 20amp to 15amp


Welcome from Newnan.

What are the specs on the heater?
Do you have a volt meter?
Do you know which breaker protects this wire?
Is it a single pole or 2 pole breaker?
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Old 04-05-2012, 10:13 AM   #9
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Downgrage 20amp to 15amp


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Was trying to determine if you have screw-in fuses or circuit breakers. If circuit breakers, does the one controlling this circuit look like two breakers tied together or is it just a single breaker?
I can post a photo when I get back but I think they are not the screwed in. I had an electrician put in a whole house surge protector and I remember he practically snapped them in place.
Yes they look like two breakers with a common on/off.
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Old 04-05-2012, 10:15 AM   #10
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Downgrage 20amp to 15amp


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Welcome from Newnan.

What are the specs on the heater?
Do you have a volt meter?
Do you know which breaker protects this wire?
Is it a single pole or 2 pole breaker?
1. It was a Dimplex 39 inch, something with DXP in its model. I'll have to find out from the model number, in a booklet in a drawer at home.
2. No, sorry. Can get one if not overly expensive.
3. Yes, I disabled it for the time being.
4. Not sure what this means.
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Old 04-05-2012, 10:15 AM   #11
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Downgrage 20amp to 15amp


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I can post a photo when I get back but I think they are not the screwed in. I had an electrician put in a whole house surge protector and I remember he practically snapped them in place.
Yes they look like two breakers with a common on/off.

That could be your problem.
You are putting 240v on a 120v device.
This causes the magic smoke to escape real fast!
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Old 04-05-2012, 10:28 AM   #12
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Downgrage 20amp to 15amp


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That could be your problem.
You are putting 240v on a 120v device.
This causes the magic smoke to escape real fast!

HAHAHA, well that made me laugh.

So, back to my original question. Can I remove the 20amp (2-in-1 breaker) and replace it with a single 15amp breaker? Snap off Snap on kind of thing. Taking into consideration that the wire will remain a 12 ga (I'll check again but I am almost certain it is 12ga).
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Old 04-05-2012, 10:33 AM   #13
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You would need to make some wiring changes to create a neutral for the circuit. This may be as simple as moving the white wire from the breaker to the neutral bar. The breaker could stay as is and just use one terminal, or you could remove it and add a single pole and a filler panel to close off the unused opening.
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Old 04-05-2012, 10:39 AM   #14
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You would need to make some wiring changes to create a neutral for the circuit. This may be as simple as moving the white wire from the breaker to the neutral bar. The breaker could stay as is and just use one terminal, or you could remove it and add a single pole and a filler panel to close off the unused opening.
Thanks.
... aaaand the easier for a rookie like me would be to replace with a single pole and a filler I guess. What about the wiring from the receptacle to the panel? Can it stay 12ga or do I have to pull new one that is 14ga?
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Old 04-05-2012, 10:40 AM   #15
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The wiring can stay, but as I said some changes to some connections will need to be made.

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