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Cost of installing new 20 AMP circuit

Postby PigSnack on Wed Jan 19, 2011 6:57 pm

I know the cost of installing a 20 AMP circuit will be highly variable, but are we talking two or many hundreds of dollars? I have a new house with 15 AMP circuits. Does it require a new chunk of copper to be pulled or is it just breaker and outlet replacement? The run is ~100 feet from breaker to outlet and is 12/2 copper USA.
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Postby Grant on Wed Jan 19, 2011 7:09 pm

Edit....just noticed you said you have 12Ga wire....should be an easy upgrade! Have you checked the breakers in the fuse panel? They might already be 20A if you have 12gauge wire installed.

It is pretty common to see fuse boxes with 20A breakers, wired with 12ga wire, and have 15A sockets on the wall end.

Either way, worst case is you upgrade the breaker to 20A, outlet to 20A, and you are good to go (all based on the assumption you are not overloading your main). Best case is you just have to change the outlet on the wall - probably three screws to loosen/tighten.

Not sure of your building code....but in some areas, doing anything in the main fuse box requires and electrician/permit. In any case...if you are not comfortable with electrical, don't do it yourself.
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Postby MDL on Wed Jan 19, 2011 7:13 pm

If my memory is correct 12/2 is the wire that is used for 20A circuits. In my "new" house the kitchen is wired using 20A breakers and the appropriate wire. However, to save a few cents all of the outlets are 15A. All I had to do to "convert" to a 20A outlet for my Vivaldi II was to change the outlet.

You may wish to have an electrician look at your specific situation and you could be pleasantly surprised...
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Postby HB on Wed Jan 19, 2011 7:38 pm

Keep in mind that although the wire is 12 gauge, it may be servicing multiple 15A outlets in your kitchen. I'm not a certified electrician, but as I understand it, they only install a 20A outlet if it's dedicated to a single 20A breaker. Kitchens in this area will typically have three 15A outlets serviced by a single 12 gauge wire from a 20A breaker, under the assumption you won't run appliances plugged into the same circuit that would exceed the breaker rating.

Back to your original question, electricians around here charge a whopping $125/hour. If you want to run a dedicated line, the question of cost would be gated by how much time it takes to snake the wires from the service panel to your kitchen. If you're lucky and the run is straightforward, it could be as little as a couple hours, but I would budget for 4 hours labor plus parts.

PSA: You should also ask whether permits are required; they are in our town. If you skip this step, it may come back to haunt you when you sell your home. In our state, you're required by law to disclose any modifications that were not inspected to a prospective buyer. This was put in effect to protect buyers from shoddy DIY workmanship.
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Postby iginfect on Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:54 pm

14g wire is not code for new buildings. 15 amp used to be able to be used w/ 14g.

Marvin
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Postby Ken Fox on Thu Jan 20, 2011 12:57 am

HB wrote:Back to your original question, electricians around here charge a whopping $125/hour. If you want to run a dedicated line, the question of cost would be gated by how much time it takes to snake the wires from the service panel to your kitchen. If you're lucky and the run is straightforward, it could be as little as a couple hours, but I would budget for 4 hours labor plus parts.

By happenstance, in today's mail I received a letter from the office of a very competent electrician in my town, describing all the services they have to offer I might have overlooked, including such things as replacing my smoke detectors and inspecting the electrical panels in my house. This electrician's shop was so busy 3 years ago that if you had wanted them to come out to do a job in your house, it would have been necessary to schedule an appointment 3 weeks in advance, assuming they were sufficiently interested to take your job on. Now, they are pleading for work, such as replacing (still functioning) smoke detectors and inspecting (functional) electrical panels.

I think this says something about capacity utilization in this line of work, during our recession.

If Captain Kirk (William Shatner) of the Starship Priceline was taking bids on electrical jobs, I think you could have a successful bid at $25/hour, maybe less.

ken
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Postby cannonfodder on Fri Jan 21, 2011 12:56 am

I had a couple dedicated 20A pulls run to my coffee bar. They had fits getting the wire across the finished ceiling, ducting was in the way. I think it was around $300 but they also spent 5 or so hours getting the circuits pulled, conduit dropped and a couple duplex outlets put in.
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Postby decaf_Ed on Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:08 pm

HB wrote:Keep in mind that although the wire is 12 gauge, it may be servicing multiple 15A outlets in your kitchen. I'm not a certified electrician, but as I understand it, they only install a 20A outlet if it's dedicated to a single 20A breaker. Kitchens in this area will typically have three 15A outlets serviced by a single 12 gauge wire from a 20A breaker, under the assumption you won't run appliances plugged into the same circuit that would exceed the breaker rating.

I'm not a certified electrician either, but I've worked with them, and knew the NEC very well, as it was in the mid 90's.
As of a dozen years ago, it was code-compliant in many areas to put more than one 20-amp outlet on a 20-amp circuit, just like you typically have several 15-amp outlets on a single 20-amp circuit. It's still "safe", since you have the 20-amp breaker protecting the wiring, which if it's 12-gauge, is good for 20 amps (thermally). From a practical standpoint, using other outlets on the same circuit could get you a lot of breaker trips, so a "real" electrician would insist on using a dedicated circuit. But if you're not tripping your breaker (and it's a good breaker), you're good to go (no less safe than you were before).... my unprofessional opinion.

-Ed
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Postby mhoy on Sat Jan 22, 2011 2:45 am

Get a number of quotes, perhaps check Yelp.com for references, etc. We upgraded our panel to 200 Amps, and later rewired our kitchen during a remodel. We took bids and the differences were large. Mind you our area isn't exactly cheap...

Mark
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