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Can I Use a 15 Amp Safety Outlet on a 20 Amp Circuit?Updated 7 months ago

When it comes to electrical outlets and circuits in the US, there is a common misconception that a 20 amp outlet is required for a 20 amp circuit. However, it's important to clarify that you can indeed use a 15 amp outlet on a 20 amp circuit—in fact, it is a fairly common practice. Because 15 amp outlets can be used with the 20 amp circuits, the majority of the receptacles that are used in homes are 15amp1.

US electrical codes mandate the use of 20 amp circuits in specific areas of your home, such as bathrooms and kitchens, to accommodate the higher power demand of appliances like microwaves and hair dryers. However, at the end of a 20 amp circuit, you can safely use a 15 amp outlet. Most circuits are designed to be over-specified to prevent nuisance tripping, which can occur when the circuit is constantly on the verge of its rated capacity. As per electrical safety guidelines, it's essential to ensure that the total load of every appliance connected to the circuit does not exceed 80% of the circuit's total capacity.

However, nearly any device commonly found in a home does not draw too many amps for a 15 amp outlet. For example, you can measure a device's amperage by dividing watts (W) over voltage (V):

  • Drip Coffee Maker: 700W / 120 (Volts) = 5.83 amps

  • Toaster: 1100W / 120V = 9.25 amps

  • Mixer: 750W / 120V = 6.25 amps

  • Hair dryer: 1600 W / 120 V = 13.33 amps

Not only do none of these devices exceed 15 amps, but you are also not very likely to power or charge these devices from the same circuit at the same time. 

Another consideration is that there are rarely any devices or appliances that have a 20 amp plug—just take a look at your kitchen or bathroom appliances or do a quick audit of major hardware and home improvement stores and you will find that all of them are likely 15 amp plugs. Since most household devices and appliances use 15 amp plugs, you won't have any trouble finding suitable outlets for your needs.

So, the idea that you need a 20 amp outlet for a 20 amp circuit is a misconception—you can confidently use a 15 amp outlet on a 20 amp circuit. This practice is not only in line with electrical codes but also a practical and cost-effective choice for most homeowners. While Docking Drawer 15 amp in-drawer outlets and 15 amp safety outlets are also safe to use with 20 amp circuits, we do offer 20 amp Blade Series Outlets if preferred, and we will soon offer a 20 amp Fire Guard Outlet. If you are still unclear about what amperage you need, check out this article to help inform your decision.

(Note: this article is specific to US applications. This is not applicable for those in Canada, where you must use 15 amp outlets in 15 amp circuits and 20 amp outlets in 20 amp circuits.)


1(2022, May 25). How many outlets can I wire on the same circuit?. Bates Electric.

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