15 AMP switches

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by Cybermonkey, Nov 12, 2008.

  1. Cybermonkey

    Cybermonkey New Member

    Messages:
    27
    Location:
    Vermont
    I wired my bedrooms with 12 gauge wire and have already orded my switches that are 15AMP:eek:. Can I install these switches or is this a code violation?
    The other question is: Can you install a 20AMP switch on a 15AMP circuit?

    It seems like common sense tells me 20AMP switch for 20AMP circuit and vice versa. But, is this really the case?
  2. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,236
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    As long as the load does not exceed the rating of the switch it does not matter. If the switch controls an outlet, you should then use a 15A outlet.
  3. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    The wire must be sufficient to carry whatever the circuit breaker will let through, but you can have either 15- or 20-amp devices connected by either 14- or 12-gauge wire as long as the circuit is protected by a 15-amp breaker. But if you use a 20-amp breaker, then the wire must be at least 12-gauge even though 15-amp switches and receptacles can still be acceptable unless the circuit is a dedicated circuit such as for an AC unit requiring 20 amps.
  4. Cybermonkey

    Cybermonkey New Member

    Messages:
    27
    Location:
    Vermont
    So, basically if the switch is just supplying the light I should be just fine?

    Thanks for the help!
  5. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    Yes, as long as the load on the switch is less than the switch's rating.
  6. Johnny C

    Johnny C Electrician

    Messages:
    23
    Location:
    Mass. & now Virginia Beach, VA
    Section 404.14 requires snap switches to be used within their ratings as marked. See Section 404.14(A) through (D). The ampere rating of the switch is based on the type of switch, the load current that it is intended to interrupt, and the type of load, such as inductive, motor, or tungsten loads.
    Assuming the loads you intend to control are lights and small utilization equipment such as radio and tv, switches rated 15 amperes at 125 volts are permited on a 15 or 20 ampere circuit wired with No. 12 awg, Cu.
  7. Cybermonkey

    Cybermonkey New Member

    Messages:
    27
    Location:
    Vermont
    Thanks for the reply.
    The other question is: Can you install a 20AMP switch on a 15AMP circuit?
  8. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    Yes, 15 amps are within a 20-amp rating.
  9. Johnny C

    Johnny C Electrician

    Messages:
    23
    Location:
    Mass. & now Virginia Beach, VA
    15 amp sw

    Yes you can install a 20 ampere switch on a 15 ampere circuit.
  10. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,251
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    switch

    The only time you could not use that 15 amp switch is if you were doing it the easy way and backstabbing the wires. In that case the openings, by code, will not accept the 12 gauge wire.
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