electric outlet for window AC question

What's the going rate in central NJ for a licensed electrical contractor to upgrade the wiring from an old breaker panel (1960)
to a wall outlet that would be powering a new 110 volt window mount air conditioner?
I don't have the exact BTU capacity, but it's a standard 110v plug, and probably an existing 15 amp breaker.
When I try to run the unit off the existing outlet (controlled by a light switch), the breaker trips immediately.
I have not tried bypassing the light switch (since it's probably not rated for an AC compressor starting up).
My thinking however was it would be safer to run new wire w/double the amperage capacity (say 30 amps), and put in a new breaker and feed the outlet directly w/all upgraded wire and no switch (other than the breaker).
The home is a straightforward single level ranch structure, I was thinking of doing it myself, but it might be better to have a "pro" who's experienced, licensed, etc. do the job.
What's a fair price a typical contractor would charge ?
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ReadyToPuke wrote:

Likely that circuit is protected by a 15 amp device. If your A/C is tripping it and there is nothing else on the circuit, then there is something really wrong with the A/C unit. The light switch would not cause it to trip.
Let's start by checking what the A/C says it needs. It should be indicated on the unit somewhere, don't go by the plug.
Don't try going to a 30 amp circuit breaker unless the A/C requires it. I suspect it indicates (if you have the manual) that it should be protected by a 15 amp device or maybe a 20 amp. More is NOT better. Larger wire gauge IS better however, but not needed.

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Hello,
Thanks for the post.
The unit does work though, when I plug it in at a friends house (newer wiring), it fires up and runs fine.
So that's why I was thinking just upgrade the wiring, put in a proper size breaker to match the AC unit, and bypass the light switch to feed the outlet directly.
What's a fair price for a "pro" to do that sort of job?
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You most likely need a 20A circuit, not a 30A. That's what your friend probably has.
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What's most likely happening is that 15A is adequate, but the circuit is either unduly long (and is 14ga), or has lousy connections, so the high load of an AC pulls down the voltage too far, the AC works too hard starting up, and the breaker gives up on it because the startup surge takes so long.
Heck, the breaker may just be "tired".
Large window mount ACs should have their own circuit.
Usually, a 15A circuit will be fine, but if the circuit is longer than about 20-30', use 12ga for the circuit. If the breaker still trips, as long as you've used 12ga, switching to a 20A breaker is cheap.
There's no way to estimate how much it should cost to do without seeing it.
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Note what Chris posted. "... or has lousy connections ...". How well connected are wires inside wire nuts and wires attached to the switch and receptacle. Do they use the screws on side or do they just push in the back. Low voltage on startup (due to lousy connections or too long wire) results is excessive current draw during startup. Verify wires are fully twisted together inside wire nuts and that connections to switch and receptacle use side mount screws.
How long is that wire from air conditioner to breaker box?
Chris Lewis wrote:

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I thought I might add one person's experience:
_Many_ years ago, my parents finally got around to installing a window mount AC. Early 70's house, 15A circuits. Probably only a 6000BTU unit, whereas 10K (and even some 12K) BTU units can work fine on 15A circuits.
There's an outlet right underneath the window, on the end of a string of outlets in the dining room - only use of that circuit was for the dining room fixture. Simple.
Turn on the AC - _nothing_ else on that circuit turned on. The thing would make noises for a minute or so struggling to turn on. Lights dim. This isn't good.
Well, it's hot, we need the cool. We'll worry about another cirucit later.
Whoops!
Within an hour, all _three_ upstream outlets were smoking, blackened the outlet covers and stained the wall.
The wires were correctly sized for 15A. The circuit wasn't particularly long. But the idjit who wired it used the push in terminals. And it was aluminum wire...
[Push in terminals on Al has always been illegal. But 3 out of 3 catching fire at the same time is pretty spectacular confirmation that pushins are bad, Al or not.]
When installing an AC on non-dedicated circuits for the first time, DO NOT LEAVE IT UNATTENDED the first day. Check upstream outlets and switches for overheating.
It's so much more comfortable having an AC on a dedicated circuit with a spec-grade (or better) outlet.
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You aren't going to get a price from here. Without looking at the house, how it is constructed, distance from the panel to the window in question, how many extra (if any) slots in the breaker panel, and many, many other factors, a price cannot be set. The methodology of the house contruction probably plays the biggest role in pricing. It may be as simple as using the existing wire to pull in a new feed, or it may be as complex as having to rip out the wall covering (drywall, paneling, etc) at both the outlet and the service panel to run the new wire.
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Anthony

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About $50 for the tripcharge and $60 an hour. Plus parts. Though, I might be way too cheep.
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I'll highlight every where that needs more specific information. I think it makes more sense to run 12 or 14, and breaker it with the proper sized breaker for the wire size.
I also think that you need an electrician. We can't reasonably quote it over the internet.
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From what I've read: I would check and see if it has 12 or 10 AWG [14 awg is out of the question for an AC {if that's the case you'll need to rewire the outlet},14Awg is best left for ligting circuits only] bypass the switch for a test (though not essential) and make sure the receptacle was rated and well connected., then I'd check the Breaker itself and make sure it's in good working order and that nothing else is on the circuit.
If you were to rewire the AC wall outlet with 12 or 10 awg, it would take a home run from the panel [+-125$ cabling only] I'd use #12 or 10 Armoured [BX] Cable and a receptacle & breaker rated for the AC unit., It takes 15 Amps Protection (listed on the Plate on the sidefront of the ac) If cost is not too much a factor I'd definetly use # 10 with a 15 Amp Breaker & a 20 Amp Receptacle (this works well for a future 20A more powerful unit as well) ., If the run from the panel is 12 Awg and in good insulated conditions I'd check for anomalies on that circuit,correct them and probably save you some expense...
Not Estimating yet, But: A Ballpark Figure would be 200-300$ for a new dedicated circuit = depending on how much digging and terminating is required.
Troubleshooting and Correcting 55$ -125$ depending on Time and Materials used.
In NJ it's probably more on the + $ide. note: AC Mechanics do not do Electrical Troubleshooting or work on Residential Circuitry., I know I worked for GE door to door. ~Roy~ E.E.Technician From: (ReadyToPuke) What's the going rate in central NJ for a licensed electrical contractor to upgrade the wiring from an old breaker panel (1960) to a wall outlet that would be powering a new 110 volt window mount air conditioner? I don't have the exact BTU capacity, but it's a standard 110v plug, and probably an existing 15 amp breaker. When I try to run the unit off the existing outlet (controlled by a light switch), the breaker trips immediately. I have not tried bypassing the light switch (since it's probably not rated for an AC compressor starting up). My thinking however was it would be safer to run new wire w/double the amperage capacity (say 30 amps), and put in a new breaker and feed the outlet directly w/all upgraded wire and no switch (other than the breaker). The home is a straightforward single level ranch structure, I was thinking of doing it myself, but it might be better to have a "pro" who's experienced, licensed, etc. do the job. What's a fair price a typical contractor would charge ?
<~/
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One can use a 20 amp receptacle on a circuit powered from a 15 amp breaker? Obviously it is safe. But is that code legal?
"Roy Q.T." wrote:

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| One can use a 20 amp receptacle on a circuit powered from a | 15 amp breaker? Obviously it is safe. But is that code | legal?
For a circuit with multiple receptacles, 210.21(B)(3) says no.
But for a circuit with only a single receptacle, 210.21(B)(1) seems to say OK. Safety is debatable. It could be annoying if you plug something in to a NEMA 5-20R that needs 16 amps and eventually trips a 15 amp breaker. It could be unsafe if you do that too often.
For a single receptacle circuit, I see no reason not to just make things all match. Use a 15 amp breaker, 14 AWG copper, and a 5-15R receptacles. Or use a 20 amp breaker, 12 AWG copper, and a 5-20R.
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w_tom wrote: > One can use a 20 amp receptacle on a circuit powered from a > 15 amp breaker? Obviously it is safe. But is that code > legal? >
The answer is no. The US NEC requires 20 ampere receptacles to be supplied by a twenty ampere circuit.
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Appears to be a minor discrepancy between HorneTD and phil-news-nospam. I agree that nuisance tripping can have safety consequences. If the NEMA rating for that receptacle is 20 amps, then one should expect up to 20 amps from that receptacle.
However, is this discrepancy between both posters created by a code change, or just by different wording that says same thing?
HorneTD wrote:

phil-news-nospam wrote:

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| Appears to be a minor discrepancy between HorneTD and | phil-news-nospam. I agree that nuisance tripping can have | safety consequences. If the NEMA rating for that receptacle | is 20 amps, then one should expect up to 20 amps from that | receptacle. | | However, is this discrepancy between both posters created by | a code change, or just by different wording that says same | thing?
It could just be that I can't find the part of the code that says a 15 amp circuit cannot have a 20 amp receptacle. What I did find is 210.21(B)(3) that says no only in the context of circuits with multiple receptacles. 210.21(B)(1) applies to single receptacles but it only says the receptacle rating must not be less than that of the circuit. I suspect the original reason is to support 40 amp circuits with 50 amp receptacles.
The code DOES allow 15 amp receptacles on 20 amp circuits provided it is a multiple receptacle circuit. I've heard that UL listed 15 amp receptacles are suitable for 20 amps of total usage (if it is a duplex) and 20 amps of pass through current.
But use of 15 amp receptacles on 20 amp circuits is NOT allowed if the circuit has only one receptacle (dedicated circuit). I don't know that any greater safety is gained here over that of multiple receptacle circuits.
I would support having code (if not already there) that disallows the use of 20 amp receptacles on 15 amp circuits in these single receptacle circuit cases.
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NO! NO! NO! You can use a 20 Amp Receptacle on a 20 or 15A Circuit, but you Can Not use a 15A receptacle on a 20 Amp circuit..[NEC]
Do Not use 14 Awg...
Go with the other recomendation = 20A Single Outlet Receptacle + 15 or 20Amp Breaker with 12 or 10 Awg. [the use of 10 gage will facilitate a boost to 30A if you should need it in the future]
oy
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reply: below~>
From: snipped-for-privacy@ipal.net
| Appears to be a minor discrepancy between HorneTD and | phil-news-nospam. I agree that nuisance tripping can have | safety consequences. If the NEMA rating for that receptacle | is 20 amps, then one should expect up to 20 amps from that | receptacle. | | However, is this discrepancy between both posters created by | a code change, or just by different wording that says same | thing? It could just be that I can't find the part of the code that says a 15 amp circuit cannot have a 20 amp receptacle. What I did find is 210.21(B)(3) that says no only in the context of circuits with multiple receptacles. 210.21(B)(1) applies to single receptacles but it only says the receptacle rating must not be less than that of the circuit. I suspect the original reason is to support 40 amp circuits with 50 amp receptacles. The code DOES allow 15 amp receptacles on 20 amp circuits provided it is a multiple receptacle circuit. I've heard that UL listed 15 amp receptacles are suitable for 20 amps of total usage (if it is a duplex) and 20 amps of pass through current. But use of 15 amp receptacles on 20 amp circuits is NOT allowed if the circuit has only one receptacle (dedicated circuit). I don't know that any greater safety is gained here over that of multiple receptacle circuits. I would support having code (if not already there) that disallows the use of 20 amp receptacles on 15 amp circuits in these single receptacle circuit cases. ----------------------------------------------
ABOUT THAT: If you use 15A receptacles on a 20A circuit the receptacle can & will brown out or become brittle and crumble with the heat from the excess current overtime, they are not desigd to handle the extra 5A over extended periods., On the other hand a 20A receptacle can handle the 15A heat & current comfortably because the heavier metal used in it's construction is suitable for up to 20A of continuous timely use and 15A is a mere bag of shells to it };-)
I can't stress enough that 14 Awg is basicly used for Lighting Circuits only, and that, at short runs, not continuous or lengthy runs, they are usually supplied by 12 or 10awg from which the 14Awg is branched off to Specific Lighting Fixtures Rated for thus, Mostly & Only.
As someone mentioned: You can use no.14 awg, but Why ? This is Not a Lighting Circuit [nor a Light Duty circuit] you are working with. oy
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| ABOUT THAT: If you use 15A receptacles on a 20A circuit the receptacle | can & will brown out or become brittle and crumble with the heat from | the excess current overtime, they are not desigd to handle the extra 5A | over extended periods., On the other hand a 20A receptacle can handle | the 15A heat & current comfortably because the heavier metal used in | it's construction is suitable for up to 20A of continuous timely use and | 15A is a mere bag of shells to it };-)
If they are UL listed, which is the only kind you should be using, they WILL handle the extra 5A just fine. Maybe they won't handle it through one of the outlets, but a TOTAL load of 20A from the combination of two outlets and the downstream passthrough load is not a problem for a 15A receptacle.
| I can't stress enough that 14 Awg is basicly used for Lighting Circuits | only, and that, at short runs, not continuous or lengthy runs, they are | usually supplied by 12 or 10awg from which the 14Awg is branched off to | Specific Lighting Fixtures Rated for thus, Mostly & Only. | | As someone mentioned: You can use no.14 awg, but Why ? This is Not a | Lighting Circuit [nor a Light Duty circuit] you are working with. ?oy
One should just use 12 AWG everywhere and protect at 20A everywhere unless a specific dedicated circuit needs something else. The code allows a few deviations from this in certain cases, but those should be avoided unless you understand what the code allows and really need that for some reason (like multiple ovens on the same circuit).
It's OK to use 10 AWG on the 20A circuits, too. The good quality stuff will attach to 10 AWG just fine (the cheap stuff might not). But 8 AWG is a bit too large to get onto most terminals for 20A stuff and would be a waste anyway.
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On 8 Jun 2005 04:21:48 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@ipal.net wrote:

Look at 210.21(B)(3) again. The top line says 15a circuits shall have receptacles "not over 15a"
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