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Dedicated 20A Outlets?? (1 Viewer)

Will Gatlin Jr

Stunt Coordinator
Mar 7, 2002

I use a Monster HTS-5000 for my 5 two-ch power amps, and a Monster Power Bar 2100 for my two Marantz M-500 mono blocks, and the rest of my components.

I was talking with the head electrian at Home Depot today. He has a serious HT and seperate 2-ch rig. To make a long story short, my circuit breaker box has 15A for the upper part of my house, and 20A for the lower part (family room) where my HT is. My ?? is, are my AC outlets 20A?

If the breaker box says 15A, and you go ahead and change the AC oulets to 20A, what damage will it do? I learned a lot talking with this gentleman. Thanks!!
Feb 4, 2001

If the breaker's a 15 amp breaker, then you'll most likely have 14 gauge wire (most builder's wouldn't spend the extra money to run 12 gauge on a 15 amp circuit). If it's a 15 amp circuit then, I see nothing to gain by putting 20 amp receptacles in the circuit. It could, in fact, be dangerous and a code violation since most 20 amp receptacles are "keyed" with a "T" shaped slot for high-current tools. Although you would know not to do it, the 20 amp receptacle could permit someone else to plug a high-draw appliance or tool into that receptacle and over-tax the 15 amp circuit, tripping the breaker.

If you've got a 15 amp circuit, I'd just replace the receptacles with better quality 15 amp receptacles.]

Of course, if you find that the wire's 12 gauge then you can change the breaker and receptacles for 20 amp versions (don't hold your breath, though).


Wayne A. Pflughaupt

Aug 5, 1999
Corpus Christi, TX
Real Name

As Ross said, never put an outlet in a circuit rated for more than its breaker. This may give someone the idea that it’s safe to plug say, a table saw or a window air conditioner into it.

If your downstairs breakers are 20A, the wiring should be 12ga., if it was done correctly.

To answer your question “My ?? is, are my AC outlets 20A?,“ the answer is “probably no.” (You can check yourself – a 20A outlet will have the “T” shaped slot that Ross mentioned.) It is fairly common for a 20A circuit to use 15A outlets in residential applications. The idea is that while the entire circuit can handle 20A, it is assumed that the 20A capacity will be “spread” across numerous outlets. In other words, it is assumed that it would be highly unlikely that a single outlet would be given the whole 20A load.

Typically a 20A outlet would only be used for a dedicated circuit with a single outlet. In this case, the single outlet needs to be able to carry the entire circuit capacity.

Wayne A. Pflughaupt

Rob Roth

Stunt Coordinator
Feb 1, 2001
I just posted on this issue on the 'sources' forum. To reiterate: The outlet type is not the issue, wire size is the issue. Do your amps require a 20 amp ( T-type) outlet? Probably not, since you have already been running them. Changing to a 20 amp outlet will not increase the capacity of the wire runs from the box. It is the wire capacity (gauge) which determines amp carrying capacity and resistance.

For serious HT I strongly advocate dedicated lines run with 12 ga. solid core (THHN) wire. This wire is rated for 20 amps. If the home run to the breaker box is long, or you have large amps, consider 10 ga. which is much harder to work with but carries 30 amps. Make sure all your dedicated lines are on the same phase- preferably the phase that has fewer or no electric motors, fans or fluorescents.

BTW, regardless of your outlet type or wire size, you may have another chokepoint if you use an "all in one" power center. I don't know about the 5000, but my Monster 3500 had a captive 14 ga. wire. I don't care how sophisticated the power filtration circuits may be, 14 ga. was just not enough to run two big amps and the rest of my gear.


Stunt Coordinator
Mar 1, 2002
Hey Will, if you do want to upgrade the amp though it is a fairly easy thing to do. Someone already ran the 14 guage, so you just go to your outlet or breaker depending on where you want to pull from. You just fold the wires over one another, wind the 12 to the 14 and vice a versa. Slap some electricians tape on there and keep the whole thing as small as possible. Put some pulling lube on there, run to the other end, grap the wire, and start yanking. I screwed up doing this and lost the wire, which means fish tape, which was easy for my short run, but would suck for a longer one, so if you hit resistence, don't pull harder (my mistake). Then just change the outlets to 20 amp, and the circuit to 20 amp, and you are done. Good luck, and oh yeah, everything everone else said is right on the money about choke points, etc. Remember 20 amp - 12 guage, 15 amp 14 guage, 30 amp 10 guage. Be safe!

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