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15 Amp Circuit Breaker

15 Amp Circuit Breaker

Summary: Learn about the 15 Amp Circuit Breaker for home electrical circuits.
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15 Amp 120 Volt Single Pole Circuit Breakers

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  • The 15 amp circuit breaker is a common item in a home electrical service panel and can be found at most major hardware stores and electrical wholesale supply houses.
  • This full size breaker is typically less expensive that a twin or a quad style circuit breaker even though it is a 15 amp size.
  • When adding circuits to a panel that is becoming crowded it is sometimes required to install a twin circuit breaker in order to create space for the new circuit.
  • This ITE Siemens brand circuit breaker is a very reliable brand, however just like anything else care must be taken when installing the circuit breaker and making the wire connection at the screw terminal to ensure a solid contact with the electrical panel and the circuit wire conductor.

Characteristics of a 15Amp Breaker

15 Amp Circuit Breaker are found in several Home Electrical Panels

A Full Size 15 Amp Circuit Breaker

A Full Size Breaker

  • This full size 1-pole or single pole 15 amp circuit breaker is one that is commonly found in electrical panels of newer homes or homes that have their electrical service panel replaced with a larger and more up to date electrical service.
Switch On And Off 15 Amp Circuit Breaker

Switching a Breaker On and Off

  • The 15 amp circuit breaker is commonly use for lighting circuits or general purpose outlets where AFCI protection is not required.
  • The full size enables easy operation for switching the circuit on or off.
  • The middle position of the switch handle would indicate that the circuit breaker has tripped off and would need to be reset.
15 Amp Circuit Breaker Panel Connection

The Breaker Connection to the Electrical Panel

  • This brand of 15 amp circuit breaker has a two sided contact surface which help to create a firm connection with the electrical panel buss.
  • These contact surfaces offer maximum contact because of the flat surface area that will slide over the panel buss.
15 Amp Circuit Breaker Wire Terminal

The Breaker Wire Terminal

  • The wire terminal of this 15 amp circuit breaker is easily visible allowing the electrician to see the terminal to make sure the wire has been inserted into the terminal.
  • The size of the screw of the wire terminal is a good size to allow easy tightening and the access to the screw terminal is easily accessed, yet the metal parts of the terminal does not stick which keeps the terminal area safe from unwanted contact exposure.
Identifying The 15 Amp Circuit Breaker Type

Identifying the Type of Circuit Breaker

  • As with any electrical part, this 15 amp circuit breaker is clearly labeled providing full information about the brand, type and application information that may be necessary in order to make the right selection for an electrical circuit project.

Applications with 15Amp Circuit Breakers

I'm wiring approximately 30 feet of wire underneath my house .Should I use 12-2 or 10-3 due to the length.

Mike, 30 feet is not a distance to be concerned about as it applies to voltage drop, what you need to pay attention to is what the circuit is to be used for - or what is the application?

Example: General purpose lighting and/or outlets can be wired with 12-2 Type NM Cable placed on a 20 amp circuit breaker, or 14-2 Type NM Cable placed on a 15 amp circuit breaker.

This page has a chart showing wire sizes and amperages which should be helpful as well:
Electrical Wire

NOTE: This question is based on a specific project. Ask The Electrician provides help for your electrical project: Ask Electrical Questions


Circuit Breaker and Buzzing Sound

Daniel, from Long Valley, New Jersey asks:
My house has 200 amp Cutler Hammer Service and recently sustained a lightning strike. All the surge suppressors for TV, computers, etc were fried and replaced. In addition to this damage there are two ceiling fans on the same circuit that are making humming/buzzing noise since the damage. The noise changed from one fan to the other fan. Both of these fans were recently replaced and the noise is still there. Should I suspect that the breaker was damaged and is no good?

Dave's Reply:
Daniel, the performance of a circuit breaker should not have an effect on the electrical devices in the home because the circuit breaker will either be on or off. If you hear a buzzing noise coming from the ceiling fan then it is likely that the ceiling fan has been damaged and may need to be replaced, however it would be a good idea to have an electrician inspect the electrical panel and the circuit breakers.

Hobby Shop Power

I am trying to wire in a small hobby wood shop to my house. I don't need any sort of 220, just typical outlets and lighting, as if wiring in another room of the house. Can you power another sub panel from a spare breaker located in the house's beaker panel? Or do you have to run another separate feed from the meter?

Dave's Reply:
Scott, a circuit can be brought from the house breaker panel to power the Hobby Shop.
Here is an article about Installing a Shed Circuit which may be helpful for you:
Install a Shed Circuit

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Articles about 15 Amp Circuit Breakers

New and Updated about: 15 Amp Circuit Breakers

Chris in Wellington, Colorado asks:

Should a 15Amp circuit be 14AWG Wire?

My garage has a 15 amp circuit breaker. The circuit has both ceiling lights and receptacles. The lights are tapped into the first receptacle. All the wiring is 14 AWG. The breaker box is full (i.e., there is no room to add another circuit). I would like to upgrade the existing circuit to either 20 or 30 amps. If I run new 12 AWG or 10 AWG wire to the receptacles can I leave the 14 AWG for the lights or do I need to replace all the 14 AWG wire on the circuit?

Dave’s Answer:
The wire size for a 15 Amp circuit is 14AWG Copper. This wire size should be used throughout the circuit. When we find that there are more then one size of wire that has been installed within a circuit, then the circuit breaker must be sized to the smallest size of wire to prevent overheating of the wire which can lead to a potential fire hazard.
If you plan to upgrade the circuit to a larger size then all of the circuit wire should be upgraded as well.

Jack in Ohio asks:
Is 14-3 Romex better than 12-3 Romex for Wiring in a House?

Is 14-3 Romex just as safe or as good as 12-3 Romex? I’m planning on a four way switch for a ceiling fan in the kitchen and a separate switch for the fan blades. This is a two story house and already have newer 14-3 wire upstairs with 15 amp breaker, mostly for the lighting. The house is old, built around the turn of last century. I need to purchase a new 250’coil of wire and read somewhere “real men use 12-3 for the whole house”. Any advise you can give will help.

Dave’s Reply:
Electrical Circuit Planning

Actually, when I see that someone has wired a house (plugs and lights) with 12-2 or 12-3 I am surprised that they just wasted a lot of money and made the job much harder for themselves. Here’s why: Most of the outlets and switches in a home are 15 amp rated, therefore making up the wires to these devices takes much more time and effort. With few exceptions, it is not necessary to wire general purpose branch circuits in the common rooms with #12 wire and 20amp circuits. The overall expense is much more when using #12 wire compared to #14. The exceptions are in areas such as the kitchen, garage, and laundry room, etc., and for dedicated circuits for specific appliances and equipment.

Questions about 15 Amp Circuits

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Should I rewire my house with 20 amp circuits and 12 gauge copper wire? Guide to Upgrading Aluminum Wiring to Copper Wiring, Electrical Circuits, Lighting Circuits, AFCI Circuit, Living Room Circuit.

Why You Should NEVER Up-Size an Electrical Circuit Breaker or Fuse

The Dangers of Up Sizing Electrical Circuit Breaker, Electrical Question: Can I increase the amp rating on a breaker to fix a tripping breaker problem?

When Aluminum Wiring Becomes a Real Fire Hazard

Can you replace a 15 amp circuit breaker with a 20 amp circuit breaker if the wire is 12 gauge and it’s protected by a 15 amp fuse at the load? The Dangers of Aluminum Wiring and an Incorrect Circuit Breaker Size Can Lead to a Fire Hazard.

See more at the Electrical Questions Category Listing.

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