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Old 05-11-2011, 09:07 PM   #16
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As far as the, at this point hypothetical, possibility of plugging a 20 amp load into a 15 amp circuit with a 20 amp receptacle... How many 20 amp loads are there really that would not be able to plug into a 15 amp receptacle? I can't claim to know everything that might get plugged into anything, but frankly I can't think of anything I've seen that uses the 120V 20 amp plug shape.

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Old 05-11-2011, 09:18 PM   #17
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not around motors or shops much huh.

the L shaped 20 amp 120v plug exists for a reason....just because YOU havent seen 20a devices doesnt mean they dont exist.
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As far as the, at this point hypothetical, possibility of plugging a 20 amp load into a 15 amp circuit with a 20 amp receptacle... How many 20 amp loads are there really that would not be able to plug into a 15 amp receptacle? I can't claim to know everything that might get plugged into anything, but frankly I can't think of anything I've seen that uses the 120V 20 amp plug shape.
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Old 05-11-2011, 09:24 PM   #18
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Folks install 50 amp receptacles on 40 amp circuits all the time. What is the difference here? How many places have burned down from this? I'd be willing to bet that you can't think of =ANY=
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Old 05-11-2011, 09:29 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by jcrack_corn View Post
not around motors or shops much huh.

the L shaped 20 amp 120v plug exists for a reason....just because YOU havent seen 20a devices doesnt mean they dont exist.
They are quite rare in a typical home environment though.

I have honestly never seen a home appliance that uses a 20 amp plug. My guess is they are seen more in commercial applications. I'm sure there are some home appliances out there that do have em, I just never seen any myself.
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Old 05-11-2011, 10:20 PM   #20
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What equipment are you referring to which has a 20a plug? Very rare in residential applications.
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Old 05-11-2011, 10:39 PM   #21
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Answering the question, probably nothing will happen...but the NEC doesn't allow 20 amp receptacles on a 15 amp circuit. That being said, my treadmill was listed as requiring a dedicated 20 amp circuit, but it works fine on the existing 15 amp circuit. As mentioned earlier in this thread, don't use other devices when using the treadmill. And I recommend a surge protector for the electronics in the machine.
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Old 05-12-2011, 07:52 AM   #22
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..... the NEC doesn't allow 20 amp receptacles on a 15 amp circuit....
In 210.21(B)(1) it states:

A single receptacle installed on an individual branch circuit shall have an ampere rating not less than that of the branch circuit.

20 Amp is not less than 15, the same as 50 Amp is not less than 40.


Now if you wanted to install more than one receptacle (I noticed you stated receptacleS), then section 210.21(B)(3) would apply in which case you are correct.

A duplex outlet would trigger the provisions of 210.21(B)(3) in any instance.
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Old 05-12-2011, 08:08 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Red Squirrel View Post
They are quite rare in a typical home environment though.

I have honestly never seen a home appliance that uses a 20 amp plug. My guess is they are seen more in commercial applications. I'm sure there are some home appliances out there that do have em, I just never seen any myself.
Yeah, that was my point. I am aware of the L shaped 20 amp plugs, I was somewhat confused 4 years back by the use of 15 amp receptacles on 20 amp circuits in most of the kitchen except that they did use a 20 amp duplex receptacle on the dedicated circuit for the microwave, so at the time I did some research on the subject.

Just to help put this to bed, upon searching the OP was indeed correct that it is not code compliant, so the code reference is this:

210.21 (B) states as follows:
[FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=2]Where connected to a branch circuit
supplying two or more receptacles or outlets, receptacle
ratings shall conform to the values listed in Table
210.21(B)(3), or where larger than 50 amperes, the receptacle
rating shall not be less than the branch-circuit rating.

Exceptions are then stated for arc welders and electric discharge lighting, which are not related to the question at hand.)
Table 210.21(b)(3) states that a 15 amp circuit must have a rceptacle rating "Not over 15".
The same table also allows 15 or 20 amp receptacles on a 20 amp circuit, and it allows 40 or 50 amp receptacles on a 40 amp circuit.

Note: This applies to circuits with two or more receptacles, so this applies to a duplex receptacle. Technically, if you had a single 20 amp outlet (i.e. NOT duplex) you could have that on a dedicated 15 amp circuit.
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Last edited by WillK; 05-12-2011 at 08:11 AM. Reason: Fixing unintended font changes from WYSIWYG
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Old 05-13-2011, 01:31 AM   #24
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I think that what could happen that would be bad is when the breaker keeps tripping due to a >15a load, and someone replaces the breaker with a 20amp, not realizing that the wire is 14 AWG.
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Old 05-13-2011, 03:10 PM   #25
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I do have to say that I haven't seen a residential 20A appliance (with a plug) either. The last 20A 120V device I touched was a UPS. It was expandable, so it had the 20A cord to accommodate its maximum possible load.

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