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Old 05-18-2010, 08:17 PM   #1
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Distinction between 15A and 20A duplex receptacles


Been picking up odds and ends for upcoming project. Today when I asked salesperson at Lowes for a few duplex receptacles he asked if I needed 15 or 20 amp. First time I'd heard of the distinction. Most will be wired to a 20A gfci circuit, but a couple will run off a 15A non-gfci circuit. When I asked him how to identify one or the other he pointed to a vertical slot along the side of the 20A receptacle. Is there an iron-clad rule here, or is the distinction merely to better accommodate different gage wires? As long as there's a good secure fit to the screw terminals using the correct wire, can 15 and 20 amp receptacles be used interchangeably? Thanks.
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Old 05-18-2010, 08:22 PM   #2
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You can put at 15Amp rec on a 20Amp circuit. You CANNOT put a 20Amp rec on a 15Amp circuit.

I don't ever use 20Amp recs unless I have an appliance that REQUIRES it.
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Old 05-18-2010, 08:29 PM   #3
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I'll remember that when I do the job. Thank you.
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Old 05-18-2010, 08:33 PM   #4
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The slot he pointed out is to prevent 20 amp cord heads from being plugged into 15 amp outlets. There aren't a lot of things that you'd encounter in the home that would have that configuration, but that is the reason for the slot. 15 A cords can go into 20's, but not the other way around.


Leah, if you run a 20A dedicated circuit (one outlet on circuit), code requires it to be a 20 A device. (at least Chicago code does.) If a 20 A circuit supplies more than one device, it does not have to be a 20 A type.
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Old 05-18-2010, 08:36 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by goose134 View Post
Leah, if you run a 20A dedicated circuit (one outlet on circuit), code requires it to be a 20 A device. (at least Chicago code does.) If a 20 A circuit supplies more than one device, it does not have to be a 20 A type.
Thanks for the education. I'm only a DIYer not an electrician. I rarely comment on these kind of questions because of my lack of knowledge - I thought I had this one in the bag.
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Old 05-18-2010, 08:41 PM   #6
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Makes sense now. Running one dedicated 20 and will be sure to use 20A receptacle.
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Old 05-18-2010, 08:43 PM   #7
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A dedicated single outlet...only able to plug in one device ?

Or a 20a duplex outlet - can plug in 2 devices ?

Single= Must be 20a

Duplex can be 15a or 20a



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Old 05-18-2010, 09:21 PM   #8
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Glad you asked. Will be in an attached garage for refrig. Have permission from local inspector to run a dedicated 20A without gfci. Thought I'd go with duplex, but maybe that's pushing my luck. Could just do a single if they are available and stay in the guy's good graces. Thanks.
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Old 05-18-2010, 10:23 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scuba_Dave View Post
Single= Must be 20a

Duplex can be 15a or 20a
Code reference on that one Dave? Not saying you're wrong, but I haven't come across that one (haven't looked for it, for the record).
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Old 05-18-2010, 10:27 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mi Feller View Post
Glad you asked. Will be in an attached garage for refrig. Have permission from local inspector to run a dedicated 20A without gfci. Thought I'd go with duplex, but maybe that's pushing my luck. Could just do a single if they are available and stay in the guy's good graces. Thanks.
If you run in Dupex then it have to be GFCI but singleplex then you don't need GFCI only if the inspector allowed and I know you did ask the inspector for the singleplex.

But keep in your mind most states allready did change a bit on 2008 NEC code and there used to be few extempts that can be used but most are cut out now.

Merci,Marc
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Old 05-18-2010, 10:34 PM   #11
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210.21 specifies single outlet (receptacle) can't be less then the branch circuit
IE - that is the only outlet on the circuit
And they changed the Code layout.....Table of Contents now only lists each "chapter"
Makes it harder to find stuff
Possibly trying to get people to buy a copy, or in prep for 2011 Code?

Makes sense..otherwise you would have a 15a rated outlet on a 20a circuit
With a duplex 15a you can't use a T-slot 20a device, so you are somewhat limited to drawing 15a per plug
Of course you can always install a surge/powerstrip & possibly exceed that
But mine seem to have a 15a limit....or the surge trips ?

Ah.....Marc...never thought of GFCI on a single receptacle
Do they make one ?
Or you would have to go to a GFCI breaker?



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Old 05-18-2010, 10:54 PM   #12
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I am glad you brought it up Dave with the GFCI receptale and unforetally no I have not see singleplex GFCI in market but I know they did come in combo verison.

But if you want to GFCI'ed the singleplex you have no choice but get in GFCI breaker.

Merci,Marc

*
Combo verison mean both GFCI receptale and rocker or toggle switch in one unit.

Last edited by frenchelectrican; 05-18-2010 at 10:56 PM. Reason: add a quick note
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Old 05-19-2010, 07:50 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leah Frances View Post
Thanks for the education. I'm only a DIYer not an electrician. I rarely comment on these kind of questions because of my lack of knowledge - I thought I had this one in the bag.
You did have it in the bag! The subject was regarding "duplex" receptacles...not single-device receptacles.

I have learned a great deal on this site by way of people adding to/correcting my own posts...don't be shy!
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Old 05-19-2010, 10:28 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by secutanudu View Post
...don't be shy!
Not a problem!
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Old 05-19-2010, 10:55 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frenchelectrican View Post
I am glad you brought it up Dave with the GFCI receptale and unforetally no I have not see singleplex GFCI in market but I know they did come in combo verison.

But if you want to GFCI'ed the singleplex you have no choice but get in GFCI breaker.

Merci,Marc

*
Combo verison mean both GFCI receptale and rocker or toggle switch in one unit.
I'm not sure what NEC says about it but theoretically you could wire a single receptacle downstream from a dead-front GFCI (GFCI device with no receptacles - only the "guts" and test/reset buttons). These are specifically designed to only provide downstream protection.

There are also some nightlight GFCI's on the market that only have one receptacle, although the ones I know of have been redesigned with TR in mind and have since had that "problem" fixed so the nightlight GFCI has BOTH receptacles back in the device.
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