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How Many Watts Can A 20 Amp Breaker Handle? (Explained)

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Last updated on August 14th, 2022 at 01:27 pm

Within every circuit connection, a lot of transport of electricity takes place. For this reason, even a precise and careful connection may sometimes develop faults and pose a threat to household safety.

Circuit breakers serve as watchmen within the circuit that allows and restricts the flow of required current therein.

They control electrical traffic, so to say, but you may wonder, is there any limit to their capacity?

A 20 Amp circuit breaker can carry appliances with a combined electrical requirement of up to 2,400 watts. This statement implies that appliances that require electrical energy for up to 2,400 Watts can be connected to a 20 Amp circuit breaker. A watt is an equivalence of an amp multiplied in volts; this is easily seen on the body of some appliances.

How Many Watts On A 20 Amp Circuit?

electric breaker

There are 2,400 watts on a 20 amp circuit. I arrived at this result by multiplying the Amp by the volt equivalent.

For example, 1 amp equates to 120 volts, and 1 volt equals a watt. Therefore, the exact amount of an amp in volts is calculated by multiplying the number of Amp by 120 volts, giving the precise amount of watts found in an amp.

This calculation applies to all electrical appliances connected to the circuit breaker. Most electrical appliances come with the amount of electricity they consume in watts or volts.

Therefore, it is easy to determine the corresponding load it deposits on the circuit breaker. In addition, most household electrical appliances come with an electrical consumption within the range of 100 and 1000 watts.

Such a rating allows users of household appliances to know how much load the circuit breaker bears and track the electrical consumption of such appliances.

When this is known, one can be assured of relative safety in the connection and wiring of electrical appliances.

Can A 20 Amp Breaker Handle 2000 Watts?

Yes, a 20 amp breaker can handle 2000 watts of electrical load. Recall that a 20 amp circuit has a maximum capacity of 2400 watts! Therefore, the 20 amp circuit breaker can handle an electrical load of 2000 watts and a little more from electrical appliances connected to it.

A 2000 watts electrical load can come in various forms. For example, they can come in electrical appliances connected to an outlet connected to the 20 amp circuit breaker.

The load can also accumulate from other electrical fittings such as bulbs, water heaters, and household items that are sometimes connected directly to the circuit breaker.

Whatever the case, a 20 amp circuit breaker can accommodate electrical load beyond 2000 watts.

Can I Plug Anything Into A 20 Amp Outlet?

A 20 amp outlet can accommodate almost any electrical appliance. There are usually no restrictions to the appliance used on the 20 amp outlet, especially when connected to the 20 amp circuit breaker. There is a reduced or no risk of damage to electrical appliances due to power surge because the circuit breaker acts as a safety valve for the 20 amp outlet.

The20 amp outlet can accommodate a wide range of electrical appliances, but you must identify the wattage of the electrical appliance.

The 20 amp outlet is connected in series to the 20 amp circuit, therefore not taking more than the allotted amount of electrical energy in watts.

It has been calculated that the maximum amount of electrical load for a 20 amp circuit breaker is 2400 watts.

Most household appliances fall within a range that can be handled by the 20 amp. These household electrical appliance does not consume or require high amounts of energy.

Electrical appliances with a need for an increased supply of energy are primarily heavy-duty tools. These are usually not found in day-to-day use at home.

Nevertheless, where these appliances are used, they are adequately accommodated by the 20 amp circuit.

The only downside is that other appliances have to be plugged out from the circuit to prevent an overload when in use.

Better still, you could connect such outlets for heavy appliances on a dedicated circuit.

How Many Lights Can I Put On A 20 Amp Breaker?

The 20 amp circuit breaker can carry 40 lights of 50-watt capacity. The total electrical load that the 20 amp circuit breaker can take is 2400 watts. Therefore, the total wattage of 40 light bulbs would amount to a 2000 watts load. With this calculation, you can discern how many lights of different wattage are compatible with a 20 amp breaker.

Though lights do not draw much power from the circuit, you should also ensure that they do not take up more than 80% of the total circuit capacity when you connect them to a circuit.

The NEC recommended this guideline and is vital to prevent overheating the wires and a possible fire outbreak.

One way to balance load distribution in the circuit is by combining lighting with outlets on a single circuit and resonating it in such a pattern across circuits.

When you do this, each circuit has both heavy and light appliances and does not accumulate either, causing the heavier circuits to overheat. 

How Many Outlets Can You Put On A 20 Amp Circuit?

There are no restrictions to the number of outlets connected to a 20 amp circuit. The 20 amp circuit is known to handle 2400 watts of power conveniently. I would recommend that the number of outlets connected to a 20 amp circuit should not exceed 10. These outlets are often connected in series so that the circuit breaker can effectively protect all the outlets connected to it.

Though the outlets do not necessarily consume energy, limiting the outlets connected on this circuit to ten is essential.

The reason is that the number of outlets connected to a circuit breaker would increase the circuit’s power supply.

Thus, increasing the tendency for the circuit to be stretched beyond its limit of 2400 watts.

An outlet on its own won’t draw any power. The power consumed by an outlet is equal to that consumed by the electrical appliance connected to it.

With more than ten outlets connected to a 20 amp circuit breaker, there would be a tendency to surpass the 80% limit.

This increase exposes the appliances connected in the circuit to damage from a power surge.

Should I Use 15 Or 20 Amp Breakers?

When considering the type of breaker to employ on your circuit, more than your preference and cost are considered.

You also consider the circuit rating, outlets connected, devices to be used, and the type of wire employed.

Generally, 20 amp breakers are used in 20 amp circuits, while 15 amp breakers are used for 15 amp circuits.

Let’s now look at two reasons that could influence this decision properly.

#1. The kind Of Electrical Appliance In Use

The electrical appliance connected greatly determines whether you should install a 20 amp circuit breaker or a 15 amp circuit breaker.

Many household appliances do not consume much power and could be comfortably placed on a 15 amp circuit breaker.

The energy requirement by these appliances is usually within the 1800 watt upper limit.

Such appliances include essential household items like refrigerators, television sets, light bulbs, etc.

When the appliance requires higher energy to operate, such appliances tend to draw more power from the circuit.

Such appliances may include microwaves, toasters, heaters, and ovens. These appliances require high energy input to operate optimally and require a 20 amp circuit breaker.

Therefore the choice of a circuit breaker to use is primarily based on the appliances used on that circuit.

Often, a household may have a blend of appliances. In this case, you can use the 20 amp circuit breaker to provide a one-time cover for the mix of appliances.

In this case, you should take extreme care to prevent an overload of the circuit, which could be pretty disastrous.

#2. The Gauge Of The Wire Used In Wiring

The wire used in wiring the house can also determine the circuit breaker to be used. The cables used in wiring come in sizes; the sizes are branded in gauges based on the diameter.

Frequently used sizes are the 12 gauge and the 14 gauge. In wiring, the larger the gauge size, the smaller the amp requirement.

So, for example, if a 12 gauge wire is used for wiring a house, it should be connected to a 20 amp circuit breaker.

When the gauge size used in wiring is 14 the circuit breaker that you should use is the 15 amp.

This consideration is necessary because the electricity conducted through the wires is affected by the sizes of the wire.

In this case, a professional electrician must distinguish between the wire sizes used in wiring and hence use the appropriate circuit breaker at installation.


The 20 amp circuit breaker can carry an electrical load of 2400 watts. You can plug almost anything into a 20 amp circuit breaker, but you must remain careful not to exceed the maximum capacity.

You can also conveniently use about 20 light bulbs of different wattage on a 20 amp circuit breaker.

And the choice of a circuit breaker depends on the electrical appliance and the sizes of the wire used for wiring.


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