15 Amp Breakers Explained! How Many Outlets Can It Safely Handle?

We all know that 15 amp breakers are used to protect light bulbs and small appliances from short circuits and power surge.

But do you know how many outlets a 15 amp breaker can safely handle?

Well, a 15-amp circuit breaker can safely handle 8 outlets. Though you may still plug in more, the rule is 1 outlet per 1.5 amps.

And going by the NEC rule, a circuit breaker should not supply more than 80% of the breaker limit. So the maximum outlet a 15-amp circuit can handle is 8.

If you wish to plug in a higher appliance, you can either switch to the 20 amp or 30 amp breaker depending on the load.

Which brand of circuit breakers are best for use?

There are different brands of circuit breakers and each has its strength. Your choice will depend on the project you want to carry out.

For a top quality industrial project, you can go for high-quality but expensive Square D QO breakers, and Siemens products for smaller residential work.

But you should always go for laboratory tested equipment to ensure your safety and functionality.

Below are some notable brands on the market:

How many watts can the 15-amp breaker handle?

The maximum wattage a 15-amp circuit breaker can carry before tripping is 1800 watts.

However, you will need to observe the NEC guidelines to be on the safest 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 breakers is in Ampere and loads in wattage, you will need to convert 15 amps to watts.

To achieve this, apply Ohm’s law formula for converting amps to watts, which is: Amperage (A) x Volts = Watts (W).

Therefore, 15A X 120 Volt = 1800 watts.

National Electrical Code and Outlets

The NEC did not limit the number of outlets per circuit. However, 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 watts.

So the maximum watt a 15-amp circuit can safely handle is 1440 watts.

From this, you can now calculate the number of bulbs a 15-amp line 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 circuit 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 rule of law, 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 15 Amp circuit will require a 14-gauge wire size for optimum performance and protection. Using the wrong gauge of wire can lead to circuit overload and fire outbreaks.

Conclusion

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 15 amp breakers, we recommend a maximum of 8 outlets. Hope the article was helpful?

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About mariaelectricals

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