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Old 07-19-2007, 07:20 AM   #1
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Replacing 15 amp breaker with 20?


I'm finishing my attic and it only has one 15A circuit, which my electrician said would be fine for the 800 sq. ft. space. However, I'm installing a home theatre system and I'm getting a little nervous about the power requirements.

At this point all of the wiring is done, as is the insulation, and we're getting ready to sheetrock. I know that the attic is wired with 14/2. How much of a problem is it to simply change the 15 amp breaker with a 20 amp? Will a 14/2 line handle the 20 amp circuit?

Thanks,
Kelly

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Old 07-19-2007, 07:33 AM   #2
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Replacing 15 amp breaker with 20?


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Originally Posted by kcrossley2 View Post
How much of a problem is it to simply change the 15 amp breaker with a 20 amp? Will a 14/2 line handle the 20 amp circuit?

Thanks,
Kelly
You would have to upgrade the wire to 12 gauge and the outlet would have to be rated at 20 amps. There are exceptions to this rule in kitchen areas and whatnot but I think (as far as the outlet) that's what you have to do. You just can't oversize the breaker without implications.

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Old 07-19-2007, 10:42 AM   #3
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Replacing 15 amp breaker with 20?


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... outlet would have to be rated at 20 amps.
This only applies if there's one outlet on the circuit. If more than one receptacle is on the circuit those rate for 15 amp are fine.

If your not sure...split the circuit at a logical location for the room and run a new feed to that half. Are the lights and outlets on the same circuit? Do you have the home theater equipment? If you do, do a rough estimate of the combined amperage of your equipment/tv and don't forget the draw of floor lamps.
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Old 07-19-2007, 11:52 AM   #4
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Replacing 15 amp breaker with 20?


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This only applies if there's one outlet on the circuit. If more than one receptacle is on the circuit those rate for 15 amp are fine.
Thanks Rippy for straightening that out. That (multi-outlet/20 amp thing) gets me every time.
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Old 07-19-2007, 12:12 PM   #5
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Replacing 15 amp breaker with 20?


Quote:
Originally Posted by kcrossley2 View Post
I'm finishing my attic and it only has one 15A circuit, which my electrician said would be fine for the 800 sq. ft. space. However, I'm installing a home theatre system and I'm getting a little nervous about the power requirements.

At this point all of the wiring is done, as is the insulation, and we're getting ready to sheetrock. I know that the attic is wired with 14/2. How much of a problem is it to simply change the 15 amp breaker with a 20 amp? Will a 14/2 line handle the 20 amp circuit?

Thanks,
Kelly

Woah Woah a red flag time just stop for a min you say if you want to change breaker from 15 amp to 20 amp on 14-2 NM wires ?? the answer is NO you can't do that it stated in clear in the NEC code it spefically 14 gauge wires = 15 amp circuits , 12 gauge wire = 20 amp circuits , 10 gauge wire = 30 amp circuits that will cover all the genreal circuits in resdentenal and commercal / industrail useage but they have few part have specail exmept for specal useage but right now we are not going into it for now.

IMO it should have 12-2 NM wire installed in first place it may only cost little more but have alot more loading in the circuit you have there with 15 amp you can load up to 1800 watts but when you have 20 amp circuits you can load up much as 2400 watts so that make the diffrence there

Merci , Marc
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Old 07-19-2007, 12:32 PM   #6
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Replacing 15 amp breaker with 20?


Thanks for the warning. Okay, here's a list of all my electrical stuff:

Projector: 145 W
Receiver/speakers: 650 W
DVD player: 60 W
Xbox: 200 W
(6) recessed lights: 360 W
(5) wall sconces: 200 W
Table light: 100 W
Compact refrigerator: 150 W
iMac computer: 150 W

TOTAL: 2,015 W (If everything is on and running at full power)

p.s. There's a second circuit in the attic, but it powers the furnace. Could I break up the circuit and tie into that?

Last edited by kcrossley2; 07-19-2007 at 12:38 PM.
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Old 07-19-2007, 01:20 PM   #7
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Replacing 15 amp breaker with 20?


FWIW:

Get the 12-2 installed. Show the electrician your power calculations and ask him to cut you a break on running the new wire, since you were going by his previous advice. Don't tap into the furnace circuit.

How are you handling surge suppression and power backup? I have my TV, Internet router, and Xbox on a UPS (along with some other items) so that only extended power outages interrupt my gaming time.
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Old 07-19-2007, 03:58 PM   #8
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Replacing 15 amp breaker with 20?


The electrician was simply piggybacking on a 15A circuit that already existed in the attic. To swap out all of the 14/2 with 12/2 would be difficult, especially since the insulation is already up. I think the best solution is to locate another circuit in the attic to help with some of the load, or separate part of the circuit (perhaps the lights) and run a separate line to the main panel for those.
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Old 07-19-2007, 06:22 PM   #9
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Replacing 15 amp breaker with 20?


If I detect correctly what your saying the "electrician" jumped off an existing 15 amp circuit to supply the power for the attic? And he knew that it would be a home theater up there? And he wants to attach a 14/2 to a 20 amp breaker to supply more juice for your stuff??????

If that is correct I would find the largest baseball bat I could find and club him over the head at least 20 times!!!!!

If it was up to me I would run at least 2 12/2 lines to the attic and then attach them to 20 amp breakers. One would do the job right now(just barely) but if things are still somewhat open why not leave room for some future expansion and a generous margin for safety. Look at the electronic changes that have happened in the last 5-10 years. A room that was wired 10 years ago with no thought to future expansion would be woefully underpowered by now. Think what the next 10 years will bring. For a little extra cost be safe than sorry

But I would figure a "Electrician" would know and tell you that

Or at least I would think he would /should

Chuck
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Old 07-19-2007, 06:32 PM   #10
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Replacing 15 amp breaker with 20?


Thanks for the reply. No. No. The electrician wasn't suggesting a 20 amp breaker. That was me. Here's some background. Basically we have a third floor walkup unfinished attic, which we're now finishing. The only thing that was in the attic was a single outlet and two pull chain lights.

What my electrician suggested was to simply use the existing 15 amp circuit, which really wasn't being used, to power the whole attic space, which is approximately 800 sq. ft. Getting power up three floors would have been really difficult without ripping up the house. I actually wasn't going to make this space a home theatre. That was his idea, which is really cool!

We're also going to install a diner booth in a small 10' x 10' area adjacent to the main room and make the whole space sort of a 50's retro look. However, when we were shopping for a microwave I was surprised that they use about 1000 watts or more. That's when I canned the microwave idea and I became nervous about my power needs.

So that's were I am now.

Last edited by kcrossley2; 07-19-2007 at 06:34 PM.
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Old 07-21-2007, 08:53 PM   #11
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Replacing 15 amp breaker with 20?


From not seeing the layout I would bet the service and panel is in the basement. Think outside the box for ways to get 2 or 3 new lines to the attic. Depending on the layout you could think about running the lines outside the house and up into the attic. Use the proper conduit for outside runs and make sure its secured to code and with the proper wire. I have done this before and it works ok. Looks better if you keep it as close to a corner as possible.
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Old 07-21-2007, 08:57 PM   #12
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Replacing 15 amp breaker with 20?


More often than not there is a pipe chase or chimney chase from the basement to the attic that a wire is easily fished in.
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Old 07-22-2007, 04:02 AM   #13
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Replacing 15 amp breaker with 20?


I would find another electrician. If the new one doesnt suggest adding AT LEAST one whole new 20 amp circuit, (in addition to the existing 15 amp) find yet another electrician.
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Old 07-22-2007, 04:29 PM   #14
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Replacing 15 amp breaker with 20?


Doubtful that the REceiver & speakers are drawing 650watts, that would be the amp load for output to the speakers overall. Same for the Xbox. Personally, I would put the electronics on a seperate circuit that is protected by a Surge system, or even an isolation transformer.

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