A 15-amp breaker is used to protect light bulbs and small appliances from faulty electrical currents.
They are common in bedrooms and living rooms, usually on a 15-amp circuit.
15A breakers work the same way as other switchgears, which are overcurrent and short circuit protection. But they protect smaller appliances.
If you want to install it on your breaker panel, make sure you know how to balance the load.
You will also need to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and the National Electric Code limit to avoid overloading the electrical system.
How many watts can the 15-amp breaker handle?
The maximum wattage a 15-amp receptacle can handle before tripping is 1800 watts.
However, you will need to observe the NEC guidelines to be on the safer side.
To achieve this, first calculate the wattage of the receptacle by multiplying the ampere with the voltage.
Calculate the wattage of your breaker
Since the rating for all circuit breakers is in ampere and loads in wattage, you will need to convert 15 amps to watts.
To achieve this, apply Ohm’s law for converting amps to watts, which is: Amperage (A) x Volts = Watts (W).
Therefore, 15A X 120V = 1800 watts.
National Electrical Code and Outlets
The National Electrical Code (NEC) does not limit the number of outlets per circuit. But, they stated that circuits cannot supply over 80% of the circuit breaker limit.
This regulation is called the maximum continuous load, and it ensures the breaker doesn’t trip continuously during use.
To get the 80% of 1800 watt, multiply 1800 by 0.8 you will get 1440 watt.
So the maximum watt a 15-amp circuit can safely handle is 1440 watts.
From this now, you can easily calculate the number of bulbs a 15-amp circuit can carry.
For example, assuming you want to install an incandescent bulb of 100 watts on a 15A circuit, you can calculate the maximum number to install by dividing 1400W by 100W. This will give you 14 bulbs.
So the maximum bulbs a 15A circuit can handle are 14.
How many outlets can the 15-amp breaker support?
A 15-amp receptacle can safely support 8 outlets. You can still plug more outlets into the breaker, but the rule is 1 outlet per 1.5 amps.
And going by the National Electrical Code (NEC) which recommends 80% or less load for circuit breakers, you discover that the maximum outlets a 15-amp circuit can carry are 8.
Wire gauge for 15A circuit breaker
The 15A circuit will require 14 gauge wire sizes for optimum performance and protection. Using the wrong gauge of wire can lead to circuit overload and fire outbreaks.
Though there is no direct rule on the number of outlets a 15A circuit can handle, you should not use over 1440 watts at a time.
The rule of thumb is 1.5 amps per outlet, and the circuit should not supply over 80% of the breakers limit to avoid constant tripping.
So with 15A circuit breakers, we recommend a maximum of 8 outlets. Hope the article was helpful?