Quick Question RE: 15a Vs. 20a - Electrical - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum

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Old 12-21-2009, 06:33 PM   #1
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Quick Question RE: 15a vs. 20a

Hey guys.. Just a quick one here.

My house still has a fuse panel rather than breakers. I am looking to run a 20 circuit for my welder and I have a couple of questions. Please bear with me if these questions are "out of line" as I am not a professional. I am just looking to learn certain aspects of this process.

1) I understand 20a must use 12g wire, and my 15a socket only has 14g. Is the conversion as simple as changing the output wire from the panel to 12g and putting in a 20a fuse?

2) Is it "bad" to run an extension chord with 20a? I ran into a few shops today looking for a 20a Extension chord, and I could not find one. Perhaps an electrical supply would be a better source..

3) Is it at all prudent to use a 15a electrical socket, rather than a 20a electrical socket? I am looking in a sense that it would be easier to supply a heavy duty 15a extension chord and change the plug on my welder to a 15a plug. For some reason, I thought the 20a socket is a bit more heavy duty, but I am not 100%….

Basically, what I am trying to do it get 20a service outside my house. I do not have a garage, however I do have a temporary "tent" garage that I do my maintenance/tinkering in. It is hard to replace car floors in the basement!

As I said, please be easy guys. I am not trying to "Get around the system", only to get a full understanding of what is right and why it is right.

Basically, what are my options to get 20a outside?


Last edited by M_Portiss; 12-21-2009 at 06:37 PM.
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Old 12-21-2009, 07:35 PM   #2
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You should run #12 wire and a 20 amp circuit. Do not change the plug on the welder. If you use it on a 15 amp circuit you will ikely be blowing fuses.
You should be able to find extension cord made with #12 wire. They will be suitable for 20 amps. Although they will have the wrong plugs ont hem. So Go to an electric supply house and buy some 12/3 SO cord and the proper 20 amp plug and receptacle ends for it. Make you own cord. SO cord is labled different than NM cable. 12/3 SO has two wires plus ground. 12/3 NM has 3 wires plus ground.
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Old 12-22-2009, 09:52 AM   #3
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There is no difference in copper between the 15A and 20A receptacles. I was told (in this forum) a while back that the only difference is the configuration of the face of the receptacle, and possibly the durability of the plastic housing; the 20A has the extra slot running horizontally on one side.


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Old 12-22-2009, 10:57 AM   #4
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The screw terminals on a 15 amp receptacle are rated at 20 amps, the "prongs" for things to plug into are rated at 15 amps.

Everything on a 20 amp receptacle would be rated for 20 amps.
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