how many outlets on a 20 amp circuit Breaker?

As a homeowner, have you ever wondered how many electrical outlets you can safely put on your 20 amp circuit?

Circuit breakers are protective devices in our homes and don’t need to be overloaded. If you plug more appliances on a circuit than rated, it can cause overload and electrical fire.

The maximum outlet a 20-amp circuit can safely carry is 10 outlets.

Although the National Electric Code (NEC) did not state it directly, you can still use the power draw restrictions to find out.

Keep on reading for complete details.

What is a 20-Amp Circuit Breaker?

A 20-amp circuit is a circuit that can deliver or withstand up to 20 amps of current with no electrical problem.

Being higher than a standard 15-amp circuit, a 20 A breaker is commonly used in areas that require more current, such as kitchens, laundry rooms, and areas with high-power appliances. 

Understanding the basics of 20 amp breakers and outlets is essential for anyone who wants to ensure that their electrical system is safe, efficient, and up to code. 

Why is it important to know the number of outlets to put on a 20 amp circuit?

Knowing the number of outlets your 20 amp circuit can carry is important to ensure electrical safety and prevent the risk of fire or damage to electrical devices.

The 20 amp circuit handles a maximum load of 20 amps of electrical current.

If you have more load than rated on the circuit, it can cause overload and frequent tripping of your breaker.

So knowing how many outlets your 20 amp circuit can carry will help determine the safe electrical load for the circuit, preventing potential electrical hazards.

How to determine the number of outlets to be put on a 20-amp circuit

A single outlet draws a maximum power of 180 watts or 1.5 amp, while the maximum load a 20 amp 120-volts circuit can carry is 2400 watts.

If you multiply 1.5 amps with 13, you get 19.5 amps, approximately 20 amps. But can you plug all 13 appliances into the circuit at once? The answer is no.

You will have to apply the NEC 80% rule which states that you must not use over 80% of the current.

A circuit that has over 80% load can trip regularly. To avoid this, the NEC recommends limiting the breaker load to 80% or less.

To comply with the rule, multiply 80% by 20 (80/100 x 20) =16 amps. 16 amps divided by 1.5 amps =10.67.

So the maximum outlet a 20-amp circuit can carry at a time is 10.

What size wire is suitable for a 20-Amp Circuit?

A 20 amp circuit is required by the NEC to use 12 gauge copper wires. The 12-gauge wire can handle up to 20 amps of electrical current without overheating.

Using a smaller wire size, such as 14-gauge, can cause power surges, tripped circuit breakers, or even an electrical fire.


As you can see from the article, the number of outlet a 20-amp circuit can safely carry is 10 outlets. You should also use a 12-gauge wire, as required by the NEC, to maintain electrical safety.

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About mariaelectricals

Hi, I am Emmanuel Nwankwo, a commercial electrician and the founder of I established this blog to share my decades of work experience in electrical installations and repairs.