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# How Many Amps Can a 20 Amp Circuit Handle?

### Question: How Many Amps Can a 20 Amp Circuit Handle?

December 1, 2009

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?

By greg from WI

Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 168 Feedbacks
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.

December 3, 20092 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.

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?

July 16, 20170 found this helpful

80% of maximum
20 amp circuit = 2400 / 1920 watts

Anonymous
June 12, 20180 found this helpful

(uggghhh, just noticed the date... I already typed a lot though and more important, I found this while searching for something, which means other people will find it too. And it has false information that needs to be corrected)

Woah woah woah woah woah... No circuit breaker is made to handle 100% continuous load? There's just no other way to say this; that is ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE!

There are definitely breakers designed to handle 100% load continuously. They exist and are most certainly available. However, it's very unlikely that you have 100% rated breakers. In fact, 100% rated breakers are probably not even made for your box. So yes, 16 amps is most likely the limit.

This is from 2009 (I'm typing this in 2018) but they had 100% rated breakers back then as well. It wasn't THAT long ago.

February 2, 20190 found this helpful

So you were asking about common residential breakers that YOU are in question about. No need to give a lesson on breakers available that cost \$\$100s that you won't use.