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Old 07-17-2011, 10:29 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Quantum View Post
Personally (because I'm an electrician), I would not do it. You answered your own question when you said that you have a 15AMP receptacle on a 20A breaker.

Either, change out that breaker to a 15A, or buy yourself a 20A GFI receptacle to install in place of the 15A receptacle that you currently have. (only if you have 12 gauge wire from your panel to your receptacle. If it is 14 gauge, then you need to run a new wire, or install a 15A breaker MAX.

Checking to see if the receptacle is getting hot is a terrible idea. You can only see the face of the receptacle. You can't see the terminals where the wire is attached. You also can't see the inside of the receptacle. The last thing you want is a fire due to over loading a 15A receptacle that is on a 20A breaker.

If you were "only" running 5-10 Amps, I would be more likely to do it, but when you are running your AC, which you know is drawing 10-13 amps, and closer to 20A at start up, I would not be using the the setup you currently have.

Play safe.
Quantum - glad to know we have an electrician here! Here is what I have always understood regarding 15 and 20 amp outlets and circuits. Based on what you said, there is a flaw in my understanding. Let me know where I am wrong -- I really want to understand this properly.

I had researched and determined that 15 amp plugs are actually rated for 20 amp pass through and can actually handle 20 amps through the socket, but the plugs (5-15) are designed for devices that pull a max of 15 amps thus the two straight prongs.

I also understood that 20 amp plugs have the sideways blade, and NEC calls for them to have their own dedicated breaker.

If you look at any house around here, all the plug circuits are 20 amps 12-2 with standard 15 amp sockets.

Again - my understanding was that the 15 amp designation was for the device that was being plugged in and not the actual limit of the plug.

Anyway - where did I go wrong?
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Old 07-18-2011, 02:05 AM   #12
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My first mod was running 10gauge wire to the front of my house from the panel. 30 feet cost me about 75 dollars. I was in shock. The price of copper has really gone up. To me it was worth the time and money to do this. Nice to have the AC when working in the trailer.
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Old 07-18-2011, 01:10 PM   #13
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Quantum - glad to know we have an electrician here! Here is what I have always understood regarding 15 and 20 amp outlets and circuits. Based on what you said, there is a flaw in my understanding. Let me know where I am wrong -- I really want to understand this properly.

I had researched and determined that 15 amp plugs are actually rated for 20 amp pass through and can actually handle 20 amps through the socket, but the plugs (5-15) are designed for devices that pull a max of 15 amps thus the two straight prongs.

I also understood that 20 amp plugs have the sideways blade, and NEC calls for them to have their own dedicated breaker.

If you look at any house around here, all the plug circuits are 20 amps 12-2 with standard 15 amp sockets.

Again - my understanding was that the 15 amp designation was for the device that was being plugged in and not the actual limit of the plug.

Anyway - where did I go wrong?

This is what I thought too; I am not an electrician and know little about it though other than you don'y play with as it can kill you.
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Old 07-18-2011, 02:57 PM   #14
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As a former electrician, you guys are correct for the most part. Here is a website I hope will help you and others understand a bit more about outlets, current and confirgurations.

http://www.frentzandsons.com/Hardwar...nfiguratio.htm


The rules that apply to installation of a GFCI outlet receptacle on a 15 or / and 20 amp rated circuit breaker are the same as the ones that apply to a regular outlet receptacle. Additionally, there may be some regulations applicable only to a particular area this GFCI is going to be installed, or your local jurisdiction requirements.

The wires (electrical conductors) between the 20 amp rated circuit breaker and this GFCI outlet receptacle (or any outlet receptacle) must be at least 20 amp rated (gauge 12). It doesn’t matter if the end device is 15 or 20 amps rated.
15 amps outlet receptacles are rated for 20 amps feed-through. In other words, they supposed to withstand the loads of a 20A rated device.


I know this is rather simple and not very informative, but good information.
Not all 15 amp outlets in a house have 15 amp breakers. The sockets themselves are capable of handling 20 amps, but designed for 15 amp products (Hair dryer, toasters, lamps, TV's, stereos etc.....).
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Old 07-18-2011, 03:48 PM   #15
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Thanks OurJayco!

So what is your opinion on running A/C on a standard 20 amp circuit / 15 amp outlet? Is that something you would recommend against as well?

In theory (and I know not everything operates that way!) - my brain was thinking that if the circuit was rated for 20 amp and the plug could handle 20 amps - then there would be no issue. If the trailer decided it needed more than 20 amps, the breaker would simply blow (Not something you want to be doing all the time obviously). In theory I thought the wire run should be capable of handling 20 amps and maintaining the proper voltage. IF you use the right adapters, and go right to the trailer my thought was that you would be ok. My comment about heat was just as a secondary check -- if anything is heating up then you have a problem somewhere such as a bad connection, too small of wire, bad plug, etc.

Again - I want to understand if my assumptions are correct or where I am wrong. This is great discussion -- glad we have some knowledgeable folks here on this subject.
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Old 07-18-2011, 08:03 PM   #16
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When I understand feed through, it refers to the terminal screws on the back of the receptacle. Meaning, the contacts on the back of the receptacle can handle 20A.

Canadian Electrical Code (CEC) which is very similar to NEC, states that a 15A receptacle is good for 15A continuous load. Your local Home Depot sells 20A GFCI receptacles, just replace your 15A with the 20A, then you know you have a properly rated receptacle.

This is just my interpretation of the code and how I would do something for a customer. You can never be too safe when it comes to electrical...as you can't easily see problems with electricity.
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Old 07-18-2011, 08:30 PM   #17
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Don't forget the part about 12 gauge wire feeding the 20 amp recepticle, to safely handle the 20 amp draw.

Also, if the "run" current draw is less than 15 amp, but the starting surge is over 15 amp.......this is a marginal arrangement.
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Old 07-19-2011, 06:32 AM   #18
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If I am understanding correctly my best bet since I have a 20 AMP braker is to change to a 20 amp plug and I should be safe as long as my wire is at least 12 guage. Is this a safe assumption?

Thanks to all who replied for your help.
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Old 07-19-2011, 08:33 AM   #19
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I ran a dedicated 30amp circuit from my breaker box to an RV style 30amp outlet. I used 10g wire for it. 10 is hard to work with, maybe a little overkill, but, wanted it heavy duty.
It is mounted on the side of my house. I have not had any problems with it tripping. I don't always run my air but my fridge is always on and battery is charged.
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Old 07-19-2011, 08:45 AM   #20
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The starting surge for a compressor is going to be well above 20A, however, the duration of that surge is measured in milliseconds and is not long enough to even begin to cause overheating or for a circuit breaker, either 15A or 20A to detect. The pass-through capability of the outlet being the same for both ratings, if it is fed with 12ga wire and protected by a 20A breaker, it is perfectly safe to run an AC on that outlet. If the AC tries to draw more than 20A, the C/B will trip. Also, using an outlet rated for 15A is not going to reduce the amount of voltage available to that outlet. A 30A circuit would be better ust in case you wanted to run something else with the AC.
I install Marine AC equipment all the time using a 20A circuit and the 16K BTU units do fine on it, both at startup and normal running. The entire boat is protected by double pole 30A breakers, but the AC runs on 20.
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