How Many Receptacles On A 20 Amp Outlet (Updated Guide)

How Many Receptacles On A 20 Amp Outlet

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People often face difficulties in getting the answer to how many receptacles they can put on a 20 amp circuit since the 20 amp circuit is the most common in the US. If you are also looking for the correct answers to this particular question, you’ve come to the right place.

This article will discuss circuits, receptacles, and other related topics regarding this issue. So, continue reading to get your answer and know all the essential things you should know about electric outlets and receptacles.

What is a Receptacle?

Electrical receptacles are a type of AC-powered outlet. It is used for plugging a device into it. A receptacle is also known as a slot or series of slots linked to a wired AC energy source. This receptacle can power electrical equipment and appliances by connecting them to the primary AC power source of a building.

A receptacle can be a switch that controls lights, fans, and air conditioning by powering them. These switches will also be counted as receptacles.

How Many Receptacles Can be Put on a 20 amp Circuit?

In most houses in the US, you’ll see 20 amp circuits. So you must know how many electric appliances you can put into each 20 amp circuit. There are no limits on how many receptacles can be placed into a 20 amp circuit. Say, you can put on 3 lights, 3 fans, 2 outlets to charge your phone or laptop, and so on.

All you need to know is you should never connect more than 20 amp worth of electric appliances on such a circuit. Practically, if you connect more powered devices than 20 amps to a 20 amp circuit, you create an electrical hazard, and the circuit can fire. I hope you understand. In that case, I will explain it in more detail. Focus on it.

First of all, you need to know that, The National Electrical Code does not prohibit you from placing receptacles on a 20 amp circuit. But if you run appliances that require more power than the circuit can handle, the circuit will be damaged.

The NEC says that a circuit can handle 80% of the load for which it is rated. So, if you follow the standard, you must not connect devices that need more than 16 amp because 80% of 20 amp is 16 amp.

Converting Amp to Watts

There is an easy formula that you can use to convert amps into watts.

Watts = Amp x Volts.

I’ll use 120 Volts because most of the rooms in the US-run 120 Volts circuits unless it’s a special case like a dryer.

So, using this formula, you can see that 16 amp are converted to 1920 watts. So, you can’t run more than 1920 watts on a 20 amp circuit at a time.

How Many Receptacles You Can Use?

Now that you know how to convert amp into watts, you can calculate and connect devices to a 20 amp circuit keeping in mind that you should not cross the limit of 16 amp or 1920 watts. 

Now let’s have a look at a simple chart of devices where you will know how many watts or amp each standard device uses.

DeviceWattsAmps
Cell phone Charger50.04
Standard LED Bulb100.08
Standard Ceiling fan800.66
Curling Iron2001.66
60-inch LCD TV2001.66
Coffee Maker7506.25
Refrigerator700-8005.83-6.66
Toaster120010
Microwave oven130010.83
Electric Space Heater150012.5
Hair Dryer150012.5
Dishwasher180015

Let’s talk about a circuit in the living room. We usually need 2 to 3 LED bulbs, 1/2 of a ceiling fan, an outlet for our TV or an advanced surge protector power strip, or a multi-plug with numerous outlets to charge our Smartphones.

electric outlet
Electric Outlet

So if we count all the devices and calculate, we can see that we can put around 18/20 receptacles on a 20 amp circuit. But if we plug any coffee maker, microwave oven, refrigerator, toaster, or hairdryer into the outlet, then we must keep in mind that each of them uses around 800-1500 watts or approximately 6-12.5 Amps.

So what’s the solution now? Well, the answer is straightforward. All you need to do is, keep one or two separate 20 amp circuits on a wall in a room, or in the drawing room, or kitchen where you can plug your refrigerator, microwave oven, and toaster.

You can also install two circuits in your bathroom, where you will be able to plug your electric space heater and your hairdryer. 

So, in general, you are allowed to put around 15 receptacles on a circuit in a living room. However, you may plug 1 or 2 receptacles that need more power than an average one or install two or more separate circuits in different walls to get an easy solution. Simple as that.

What to do if the 20 Amp Circuit is Overloaded?

Having too many outlets on the same circuit may be an issue in an older home. You can also face issues like this and often face overload issues. So, now let’s find a convenient solution to this problem.

The first thing to do is unplug as many devices as you can from the outlets and refrain from using too many at once. There are limitations to reducing amp draw through a circuit using that method.

To solve the problem of an overloaded 20 amp circuit, run a second wire from a separate breaker to take the other half of the load.

Let’s give you a real example of this problem.

Two bathroom circuits were connected to the same circuit in a home, resulting in an overload situation. The fact that the whole house was getting ready for morning baths and the use of hairdryers when wire nuts were melting created a dangerous situation.

The fix involved bringing an additional 12 gauge wire to one of the bathrooms and connecting it to a 20 amp breaker. As a result, the problem was immediately solved, and a much safer home environment was created.

Read: How to Fix a Loose Outlet [Easy Guide]

FAQs

How many amps can a 20 amp outlet handle?

As I mentioned above. A circuit or an outlet can handle 80% of its rated current load. So, if we are talking about a 20 amp outlet, after calculating in the above method, we get 16 amp of current that a 20 amp outlet can handle. 

Can I use a 15 amp outlet on a 20 amp circuit?

Yes. You can use a 15 amp outlet on a 20 amp circuit. As we all know, a 20 amp circuit can handle a maximum of 16 amp current flow so you can put a 15 amp outlet on such a circuit.

Do I need a 20 amp outlet in the kitchen?

Yes. You should use a 20 amp outlet in your kitchen. Because in case you want a dishwasher in your kitchen, you must have a 20 amp outlet there. Because a standard dishwasher uses 1800 watts or 15 amp current, if you don’t have a minimum of 20 amp outlet in your kitchen, you can’t plug a dishwasher in the outlet.

Can I put the dishwasher and fridge on the same circuit?

Certainly, the answer is a big No. First of all, you need to know how many amps or watts a fridge and dishwasher use. Generally, a fridge uses 700-800 watts or 5.8-6.7 amps, and a dishwasher uses 1800 watts or 15 amps. So if you count them together, you get around 2500-2600 watts or 20.8-21.7 amps which are way higher than a 20 amp circuit can handle.

Conclusion

If you ask me how many receptacles can be put on a 20 amp circuit, I will answer that. It depends on how much electric flow the receptacles need together. If you put 20 receptacles in the circuit and the combined electric use is less than 16 amps or 1920 watts, you are allowed to do it. You don’t have to worry about anything.

But if you are using more powerful devices that use more watts, you have to know how many watts they use and put them on the circuit accordingly.

Besides, it would be best to remember what size wire you are using on the circuit. If you can keep all the above things in your mind, you must not face any electrical difficulties in your home.

Palash is an entrepreneur in the tech industry and the author of the Smart Home Protector. As a tech entrepreneur & reviewer of a home safety gadget store, his job helps customers remain on top of what's coming next in our rapidly changing world.

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