Can You Use A 15 Amp Switch On 20 Amp Circuit? [Answered]

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Bought a mismatched set of circuits and switches for your light fixtures? Yeah, we know how frustrating that is. And honestly, we’ve all been there. 

Can you use a 15 amp switch on 20 amp circuit?

It’s a yes and no. When there is one outlet involved, then it’s a yes. But in the case of multiple receptacles, it’ll cause a problem. Now how to install the switch and the circuit. Start by turning the power off and testing the circuit for voltage. After that wire the circuit to the switch. Finally, turn the power on, and voila!

This was just a sneak peek. To know more about this, dive into our segment. And thank me later! Because on the other end, this will become all crystal clear to you.

15 Amp Switch On 20 Amp Circuit, Yes or No?

There’s a way you can use it, yes. But first, you should consider some things. 

For this, you have to understand the amp and load combo between your receptacle and circuit. Only then you can decide if you can use a 15 amp or not. 

Below is a table of the circuit and receptacle rating along with the maximum load. 

Circuit Rating (Amperes)

Receptacle Rating (Amperes)

Maximum Load (Amperes)

15

Not Over 15

12 

20

15 or 20

16

30

30

24

Here, we can see that a 20 amp circuit can manage a maximum load of 16 amps. And the receptacle can be a 15 or 20 amp. 

Let’s find out when a 15 amp switch can be used. Well, a 15 amp will work fine as long as the load is 15 ampere or less. This is because if you go up the maximum load, it’ll be a problem. As you’d be using the switch to control loads that may exceed their capacity.

That is, for a 20 amp circuit, you can use one 15 amp outlet. Basically, one 15 amp switch. This is because multiple outlets can cause problems. Like the breaker tripping or even a short circuit at times.

If your circuit is 15 amp, you can control the entire circuit with a 15 amp switch. This is because it won’t exceed the maximum load.

An example, for lighting, you can use a 15 amp switch. This is because the load is usually less than the amount mentioned. 

According to the National Electrical Code (NEC) 210.21, there’s a few rules you need to follow about circuits. You can’t use a single receptacle on a single branch circuit. 

In the case of a branch circuit, a 20 amp circuit will work really well! Moreover, the amp rating should not be less than the branch circuit.

Let me clarify that a bit more. In short, a 15 amp switch can be used all over a 15 amp circuit. But for a 20 amp circuit, the outlet has to be a singular 15 amp one. Because if you accidentally put more load on an outlet, it will also damage the other outlets.

Note: One amp equals 100W. And a 15 amp switch can handle up to 1500W.

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Install Your 15 Amp Switch On The 20 Amp Circuit

To install your light fixtures, you’re going to need a few things. But first, make sure you have your protective gear on! Because working with electricity can be risky. And a small misstep can cause you great harm!

After you have your gears ready, let’s look at what you’ll need. Here’s a list of the required tools:

  • Wire Nut
  • Electrical Tape
  • Switch Box
  • Single Pole Switch
  • 2 Wire Cable
  • Ceiling Box
  • Light Fitting
  • Non-contact Voltage Tester 

That we’ve got everything that we need, let’s move on to the steps. But fret not! It’s not as difficult as you think!

Step 1 of 5: Turn The Power Off 

Start by shutting down the circuit. To do this,  go to your home’s breaker box and turn it off. 

If you have the traditional box with fuses, you’ll have to turn it off differently. Here, you’ll have to unscrew the specific fuse and manually remove it from the panel. 

This is how you’ll break the electrical connection. 

Step 2 of 5: Check For Electrical Power In The Circuit

Now that we’ve disconnected the power, we need to test it. For this, take your handy dandy voltage tester and check.

Carefully remove the cover plate by removing the screws. Then check all the wires with your voltage tester. To further confirm, test the switch’s side screw terminal. 

The tester will light up if it detects any voltage. If it does, check your circuit breaker box again. Make sure whether you’ve disconnected the right circuit for your switch or not.

Step 3 of 5: Wire Your Single Pole Switch

Connect your hot wires to the wire nuts within the metal ceiling box. Here, a 12/2 wire will work great! Then, take your neutral wire and connect it. It will go from the ceiling box to the light fitting. 

After that, you’ll use the black wire from the light fitting. This wire will then make a connection with the ceiling box and switch. Finally, you’ll attach it to your terminal switch. 

Now take the white wire and wire bottom terminal of the switch. Then pass the wire through the ceiling box. This is just like the black wire. Lastly, use it to connect the hot wire nut to the box.

You’ve to make sure all the cables aren’t tangled. Keep in mind that you don’t connect white and black! Carefully wire them separately. 

Note: The white wire will act as the hot wire. Therefore mark it with black tape for future reference.

Then, you are going to take your ground wire and connect it to the wire nut. This too from within the metal ceiling box. After this, connect the same wire nut with the metal ceiling box using ground wire. 

Connect the last ground wire with the ceiling box and the wire nut. And connect it with the switch ground terminal.

Afterward, take a look and check if the wires are tightly connected.

Step 4 of 5: Reinstall The Cover Plate

Now that we’ve wired our circuit and switch, we’ve got one step left.

We’ll first have to gently put the wire into the box. Then install the switch into the box with its two screws. After you’re done, you can put back the switch plate cover.

Step 5 of 5: Turn The Power Back On! 

It’s time to test the light. Here, we have to restore the power back. For this, you’ll have to turn on your breaker or plug in your fuse.

The switch is turned off at this point. The electricity will flow through once the circuit is powered. But only up to the switch. This is because the circuit is broken. 

Now if we flip the switch on, the circuit will be completed. And electricity will flow through and power the light.

That’s all from us!

This is how you wire a circuit and a switch. Remember to buy the right switch for your circuit!

FAQs

Question: Do I need a 15 amp or 20 amp light switch?
Answer: Well, it depends. So, suppose you have one or two lights on a switch. Then a 15 amp will work great. For multiple lights, go for a 20 amp switch to be safe. 

Question: Can outlets and switches be on the same circuit?
Answer: Yes, for sure! There’s no reason for it not to. This is something that electricians do almost regularly. What they do is, basically run the switch wires to a remote outlet. 

Question: How many outlets and lights can be on a 20 amp circuit?
Answer: 10 outlets! It’s a basic rule of thumb. For each receptacle, factor a maximum of 1.5 amps. Therefore, you can put 10 outlets on your 20 amp circuit.

EndNote

Ah! Here comes the part where we bid our goodbyes. Hope this article cleared your confusion. So did you use your 15 amp switch on 20 amp circuit

For more information or guidance, contact a professional. Good Luck!

Scott Kelly