15 amp switch on a 20 amp circuit breaker

Hi everyone. I have 15 amp rated light switches on a 20 amp circuit. These light switches in most cases control overhead lights (in a kitchen, garage, dining room). Is this alright, or do I need to use 20 amp rated light switches?

Also, on a 20 amp circuit, I have 15 amp rated electrical outlets? Is this alright? Some of these outlets are controlled by a 15 amp light switch as well, is that alright? Thanks for any help.

Reply to
Eric and Megan Swope
Loading thread data ...

Happens every day in residential. .

There is a section in the NEC to allow this in residential.

Usually the switch controls less than the circuit ampsity so there is little danger.

Reply to

If I recall right, the switch is only required to be rated same or less than it's load. Check the NEC under switch ratings.



Reply to
The Real Tom

Perfectly allright.

Reply to
Ryan Evans

circuit. These

kitchen, garage,

rated light

outlets? Is this

light switch as

The breaker is there to protect the *wiring so it doesnt over heat and catch fire. for a 20 amp breaker in the US you must have size 12 awg wire... that can feed multiple circuits, each of which can carry less current of course,

If your wire is size 14 you must use 15 amp *breaker

Theoretically you could plug something into one of your 15 amp recepticles that drew 20 amps. and would tend to be hard on the 15 amp recepticle...but your wire would still be protected since its 12 gage and you have a 20 amp breaker,

You are not supposed to run more than 15 amps full load on a

20 amp circuit continuous, the 20 amps is a peak, intermittent rating...but thats not controllable...so they NEC does the best it can with regulations in a real world.

There is significant safety margin built into the rules so that 21 amps is not going to burn your house down instantly, Maybe 25 or 30 amps would be a significant problem though...

20 amp recepticles will last longer in use near the 15 amp range than lighter ones...but in most cases thats not a big usue.. loads over 12 amps or so on a 110 receptical are rear..my skill saw only draws 12 at full load. .

Phil Scott

Reply to
Phil Scott


The switch as to be rated for the load, or for a HIGHER current.

Reply to
Michael A. Terrell

Actually 80% = 16A. (Continuous is over 3 hours; 20A for the first 3 hours is OK. Fuses and thermal trip circuit breakers can trip at a 20A load over 3 hours.)

Also could use "Spec Grade" receptacles.


Reply to

OOPS Typo! Yes, try this again. the load is required to be the same or less than the switches rating.

That's why I say check the NEC. No typo's in there!


Reply to
The Real Tom

PolyTech Forum website is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.