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AMP tester -- 15 vs 20 AMPs ?

Posted on 2014-03-03
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Last Modified: 2014-03-25
I have lots of outlets in multiple building and want to easily test how many AMPS, VOLTS, etc an outlet can handle without having to go back to the breaker box/etc.

What AMPS, VOLTS, etc under $100 outlet tester do you recommend ?
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Question by:finance_teacher
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by:Darr247
Darr247 earned 1000 total points
ID: 39901126
Well, 120V 20A (NEMA 5-20R) outlets have a sideways slot on the grounded neutral (typically white) wire's slot. That's the longer slot... the shorter slot should be connected to the ungrounded 'hot' conductor's (typically black) slot.
120V 15A (NEMA 5-15R) outlets won't have that sideways slot.

Electricians know to install #12AWG (or larger) wire and 20A breakers on 20A outlets.
If you find a 20A outlet without #12AWG (or larger) wire and a 20A breaker, you should replace it with a 15A outlet.

You don't need a tester to tell what they should supply.
With the ground hole on the bottom, 120V outlets should have the longer (neutral) slot on the left and the shorter 'hot' slot on the right. Note there is no requirement as to the mounting orientation of the outlet in NFPA part 70 (aka the NEC)... the ground hole can be up, down, or sideways.
If there's an extra sideways slot pointing out of the neutral slot, it's a 20A outlet.
If the neutral is an L-shaped slot, with the sideways slot pointing in, it's a 30A outlet.
A 120V 20A plug will fit into a 30A outlet, but a 120V 15A plug will NOT fit in a 30A outlet.

You can test if they're wired correctly using an inexpensive tool such as the Gardner Bender GRT-3500 from Home Depot, et al.
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by:Dave Baldwin
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@Darr247 is correct.  In addition, you don't really want to 'load test' the outlets to see how many AMPs they will handle because you will trip the breakers and have to go back to the breaker panel to reset them.  And incidentally turn off everyone else on that circuit until you get it back on again.  If you turned off my computer while I was working on it, I would be unhappy about it.

If you are having an actual problem, you should call a qualified electrician to fix it.
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by:viki2000
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Darr247 earned 1000 total points
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Here's an example of a 15 amp and a 20 amp receptacle.NEMA 5-15R and NEMA 5-20R duplex outletsI've been an electrician for 28 years and during that time I've seen exactly one installed 30A 120V outlet that wasn't a slant slot (NEMA 10-30R) or twist lock, so you're unlikely to find one in the building[s] you're documenting.
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