Help! I replaced 12 light bulbs in our church with the highest rated bulb (250 watt) as printed on the label inside the recessed cans. This was recommended by a lighting consultant to get the most out of the lighting equipment we currently have available. This caused the 20 amp breaker on this circuit to trip the next Sunday. We replaced the 20 amp breaker with a new 20 amp breaker and now all seems to be fine - no tripping, not overheating, the breaker is cool to the touch, etc. One of our concerned members decided to have a retired electrician come out to inspect the circuit and be sure we were OK. The electrician said that we're most likely overloading this 20 amp circuit, and that we should only have about 80% of 20 amps X 120 volts = 1920 watts, when we're actually putting 3000 watts on the 20 amp circuit. Also, the wire guage is 12 according to the retired electrician. I think I'm safe if I cut back to six 250 watt bulbs and six 70 watt bulbs.
Now for the questions:1) Why would this circuit be so under designed for the rated size of the 12 recessed light cans? Did the original contractors put in the wrong size circuit and wiring?
2) Would most folks be as dumb as I and think that if the can is rated for 250 watts, then the circuit should be designed to handle it?3) The #12 wire size seems small for the distance from the breaker - at least 75 ft. Is this a concern? 3) These are 40 year old recessed cans, that most likely don't have thermal switches - should I worry about putting in 250 watt bulbs? 5) We're looking for a commercial lighting consultant to redesign the whole lighting systems in the main sanctuary, but we haven't had much luck locating one yet. Anyone know of a good lighting consultant in South Carolina?