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Can I use a 20 amp power conditioner on a 15 amp circuit?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Can you use a 20 amp surge protector/conditioner on a 15 amp circuit? The reason I ask is because I can get a 20 amp version of a unit cheaper than the 15 amp version. Going the other way around, can you use a 15 amp component on a 20 amp circuit?
post #2 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by nickwin View Post

Can you use a 20 amp surge protector/conditioner on a 15 amp circuit? The reason I ask is because I can get a 20 amp version of a unit cheaper than the 15 amp version. Going the other way around, can you use a 15 amp component on a 20 amp circuit?

A 15A device will plug into a 20A receptacle, a 20A device won't plug into a 15A receptacle.

That assumes both the receptacle and device have the correct terminations for the specified current.
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
What if the 20 amp device did have the option of having a 15 amp plug? The unit I'm looking at (furman) comes has a 20 amp type power cord standard, but also comes with a 15 amp cord. If I used the 15 amp cord would it function just like the 15 amp model would, or does it not work like that? Would it over draw my circuit and blow my fuse?
post #4 of 13
This only depends upon how much equipment you plug into the unit.
post #5 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by nickwin View Post

What if the 20 amp device did have the option of having a 15 amp plug? The unit I'm looking at (furman) comes has a 20 amp type power cord standard, but also comes with a 15 amp cord. If I used the 15 amp cord would it function just like the 15 amp model would, or does it not work like that? Would it over draw my circuit and blow my fuse?

Yeah. If you change the power cord to a 15A cord it functions as a 15A device would.

As AV Doogie mentioned, whether or not your circuit will trip depends on the load(s) plugged into the device.
post #6 of 13
The 15A version probably has a 15A fuse along with the different power plug. What you never want to do is to take a 20A plug and "convert" it to a 15A plug (i.e. mod the cable ,etc.). If the unit draws more than 15A you could melt the cable and start a fire.

In summary, get the 15A version -or- upgrade the wiring, fuse and outlet/s for that circuit and go with the 20A.
post #7 of 13
I'd would have no qualms doing this myself.

The NEC would even be happy so long as there aren't 20amp receptacles on the unit. This would theoretically let you plug 20amp devices into the 15amp circuit.

Even so, just don't plug 20amp devices into the surge protector and you'll be fine. But I wouldn't even consider that the biggest danger. Instead, you are far more likely to plug in multiple devices with 15amp plugs, resulting in a draw greater than that of a a single device with a 20 amp plug. Keep in mind that you're not supposed to use 100% of a circuits rated capacity. You'll always want at least 20% head-room.

The internals of the surge protector are almost irrelevant. Even if fused at 20 amps, it is likely a slow burn fuse. Meaning, the breaker will always trip first and the fuse will only blow if the breaker fails completely and doesn't trip when it should. With the breaker rated at only 15amps, it will actually trip sooner, providing better protection. A truly anal safety freak would wire their home with 12 gauge wire but use 15 amp breakers.

In summary, if you have no 20amp devices, there is absolutely no danger whatsoever in running the 20amp surge protector on a 15amp circuit. It is roughly the equivalent of running a plain old power strip.
post #8 of 13
Very few A/V units have 20 Amp plugs and if your unit does have a 20 Amp plug then you really need a 20 Amp circuit.
post #9 of 13
Do you know what type of wiring is in your house? In my house, it's all 20 amp breakers, 12ga wiring, but 15 amp outlets. The local electrical code here requires 12ga for all outlets, 14ga is allowed only for lighting. This house was built in 1974, and that was the requirement even back then.
post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedskater View Post

Very few A/V units have 20 Amp plugs and if your unit does have a 20 Amp plug then you really need a 20 Amp circuit.

No you really don't. For a power conditioner type product it's what its rated capacity is. As long as you're not running more than 15 amps through it everything's fine. Assuming it is a 15 amp breaker on the 15 amp circuit, you'd trip the circuit anyway if you had too much on it.

The key here is that you aren't actually trying to utilize 20amps of draw on the 15 amp circuit, by for instance replacing the breaker with a 20-amp breaker. That's bad bad bad.
post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisWiggles View Post

No you really don't. For a power conditioner type product it's what its rated capacity is. As long as you're not running more than 15 amps through it everything's fine. Assuming it is a 15 amp breaker on the 15 amp circuit, you'd trip the circuit anyway if you had too much on it.

The key here is that you aren't actually trying to utilize 20amps of draw on the 15 amp circuit, by for instance replacing the breaker with a 20-amp breaker. That's bad bad bad.

This is very true, but I was trying to look at the reverse situation. Almost all equipment has 15 Amp plugs. The few amps with 20 Amp plugs will probably play very loudly for a long, long time on a 15 Amp circuit.
post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by nickwin View Post

Can you use a 20 amp surge protector/conditioner on a 15 amp circuit? The reason I ask is because I can get a 20 amp version of a unit cheaper than the 15 amp version. Going the other way around, can you use a 15 amp component on a 20 amp circuit?

You can use what ever you want. If you use a 20 amp surge/power strip on a 15 amp circuit breaker , and your equipment draws more than 15 amps, the circuit breaker wil trip before the surge protector.
post #13 of 13
To be more clear... electrical codes normally aren't satisfied when a 20 amp plug is cut off and replaced with a 15 amp plug. 20 amp receptacles are not allowed on 15 amp circuits.

But as with most things in life, if you know what you're doing, there is minimal risk. Multiple 15 amp devices plugged into the 15 amp circuit likely poses a greater real world hazard then the existence of 20 amp receptacles on a surge protector plugged into a 15 amp circuit.
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