How Many Amps Can a 20 Amp Circuit Handle?

I was wondering actually how many amps can a 20 amp circuit breaker hold before it pops? I have an amp meter on it and it says 19.8. Somebody told me they can actually hold up to 21 amps?

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By Greg from WI

December 2, 20090 found this helpful

Asked my smart husband and he says that is true and anything over that will break the circuit. If you keep plugging in small appliances and get up to that point, it will heat up and cause the circuit to break. If you plug in some a large appliance or space heater, it automatically shuts off like a power surge effect.

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December 2, 20090 found this helpful

Thanks for the feedback but see I'm putting Christmas lights up and i balanced the amps out on these circuit breakers with the amp meter. These are both 20 amp breaker and I'm at 18.6 and 18.9 on the other but they didn't blow after burning the lights for over 4 hours but the circuit breakers were warm to the touch. Do you think I'm fine and leave things be or try to get down a bit more in amps?

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December 3, 20090 found this helpful

No circuit breaker made is rated for 100% continuous load. (By Code, continuous is more than 3 hours) The most the manufacturer will list the breaker for is 80% of the listed rating for continuous loads. This means, that by loading up the circuit to more than 16 amperes is in violation of the manufacturers listing for the breaker and voids the UL listing that most municipalities require for electrical equipment.

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