Circuit breakers in your electrical panel are considered "Safety buffers." Their job is to disconnect from power when they detect the passing current exceeds its amperage. When you don't measure your circuit breaker's load capacity, you run the risk of damaging your appliances, or worse…setting your building on fire! In this blog, we will go over the key essentials to understanding how much amperage your circuit can hold.
When you’re considering installing a new heater, HVAC unit, thermostat, or any electrical appliance for that matter, it’s important to know exactly how much electricity your circuit breakers can handle before the circuit trips.
Every electrical appliance you use requires a specific level of electrical power for it to operate safely. Commonly referred to as the “Power Rating,” this load level helps to determine how much power your device can handle without overheating (8).
Have you ever gone shopping for batteries, light bulbs, or even vacuum cleaners and noticed things like ‘9-volt batteries’ or ’12-watt light bulbs’ or ‘20 amps of power?' Have you ever looked at these numbers and found yourself asking…
Well, before we jump into load capacity and all that other technical jargon, let’s learn a little bit about amps, watts, and volts.
Amp is short for Ampere. Amps measure the amount of electrical charge flowing past a given point in one second. In laymen’s terms, the number of amps indicates how much of an electrical current is being drawn through power cables (1).
Voltage (volts, V) measures how strongly electricity is being pushed through a circuit. In other words, the number of volts tells you the amount of pressure being pushed (1).
Wattage measures the amount of electrical power that a device uses. Watts is the unit of measure that indicates the total amount of electrical current flowing through an electrical device (1). By measuring the amount of power a building consumes, the power company is able to determine your utility bill.
Like electricity running through a current, water flows through a hose. Amps would be the volume of water that flows through the hose, while the actual water pressure would be the voltage (1). Watts on the other hand is directly related to the power that water could provide. For example, it could be powering a water wheel.
Every circuit breaker has a specified amperage (amount of current). This rating is labeled on the breaker itself. The standard for most household circuits are rated either 15 amps or 20 amps. An important note to remember is that circuit breakers can only handle about 80% of their overall amperage. That means a 15-amp circuit breaker can handle around 12-amps and a 20-amp circuit breaker can handle about 16 amps.
It’s very important to understand how much amperage your electrical device draws before installing them into your breaker box. Whether you’re looking to install a heater, AC unit, light switch, or GFCI outlet, there are a few steps you must take.
Your circuit breaker is an essential part in the safety of your home or building. It keeps your electrical wiring system from overheating. If you are experiencing frequent power outages, electrical trips, and other oddities, we’ve got some troubleshooting tips for you!
These are just a few ways to troubleshoot a tripped breaker. Depending on the problem, some issues can be tackled at home while others will need the help of a qualified electrician.
Now that you have a little background knowledge on circuit breakers and how to troubleshoot trips, take your new skills and check out HomElectrical’s wide array of LED lights and HVAC units for your convenience.
Electrical trips can occur due to worn out insulation, conductive dust or debris, water, or electrical wiring deterioration. Discover more ways to troubleshoot your GFCI if it starts to trip.
GFCI breakers and receptacles keep you safe from electric shocks and fires. Use a GFCI outlet in areas with a high chance of water coming into contact with the electrical current, such as a bathroom or kitchen.
Circuits and outlets come in either 15-amp or 20-amp options, and the amperage of the outlet must never exceed the amperage of the circuit. Follow NEC requirements to make sure you have the correct voltage, and never overload your circuits.
GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter outlets, while GFI stands for Ground Fault Interrupter. Many electricians refer to GFCI instead of GFI, but neither word signifies a difference.
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