Electric power remains a mystery for most people. Electricity is an integral part of modern life, we depend on it, yet fear it. Understanding the awesome energy that flows through our homes, will demystify its existence. We’ll start with the most common question: why is my electrical outlet not working? This may, at first, sound quite simple. However, solving this common issue may require a greater understanding of how electricity works.
Table of Contents...
- 1 Problem : Electrical Outlet Not Working
- 1.1 How does electricity work?
- 1.2 Basic Electric Safety
- 1.3 Understanding your multimeter
- 1.4 — Electrical Outlet Not Working
- 1.5 Frequently Asked Questions : Home Electrical Outlets
- 1.6 GFI vs GFCI Outlet : What’s the Difference? The Whole Truth
- 1.7 Q&A Guide: Bad Circuit Breaker Symptoms | Learn to Diagnose Yourself
- 1.8 AC vs DC Power ǀ Understanding Electric Current
- 1.9 Related posts:
Problem : Electrical Outlet Not Working
We cannot imagine a world without electricity. It’s probably the greatest discovery of all time. Despite the fact that it is everywhere, electrical power remains an enigma to the people who depend on it. Yet it is, when we gain an understanding, basic science with simple rules. We have a sort of blind faith that when switch an appliance on it will work and we are safe using it. When this doesn’t happen, we are left in the dark. Sometimes this may be quite literally true.
VIDEO — Start Here : Troubleshoot & Test Home Outlet
So what do you do when an electrical outlet is not working? There are a few logical steps that should be taken to identify the cause. Correcting it may be more complicated. But we have to start out by eliminating the most obvious causes. When you plug an appliance into a socket and it doesn’t work, what’s the first thing you should do?
- Check the appliance to identify whether the outlet is working, and it is not a faulty appliance. Plug the appliance into an outlet that you know to be supplying power.
- If you are using an extension cord, check this too, by exchanging it for another cord that works.
- Check the circuit breaker. If there is an overload or short circuit, the breaker will trip to prevent fire or physical harm. A breaker may trip because of faulty wiring or a faulty appliance. Understanding the cause may take more advanced knowledge on how to diagnose electrical faults. We’ll be dealing with these circumstances later, after a more in depth discussion of how electricity works.
- Check the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI).
- If none of these steps yield a solution, you need to check for damaged wiring, a damaged outlet, or a faulty breaker. This will all be explained in due course.
To tackle more complex electrical faults, we need to understand electricity. Above all, we need to fully comprehend electrical safety. This knowledge will empower you.
At this point I think it’s beneficial that you understand the basics of electricity and how your home circuits are setup — BUT, if you want more troubleshooting information to help you diagnose why your electrical outlets don’t work then you don’t need to wait — ►GO DIRECTLY TO TROUBLESHOOTING home outlets.
How does electricity work?
The reason why electricity remains such a mystery is because we cannot see it. To understand the way electricity works requires abstract thinking. The ability to visualize that which we cannot see. This is what electrical engineers do. We take the seemingly unknown properties of electrical power and translate it into the known through a series of mathematical calculations. For basic home power, these calculations aren’t too complex. You can easily come to understand it. Just keep reading.
I always start explaining electrics 101 by using water as an example. Understanding electricity starts by fully comprehending the concept of potential difference. Basically, electrical energy is the flow of electrons from a point of high energy to a point of neutral energy.
When dealing with direct current (DC), like a battery, the flow of electrons is a linear path from a positive terminal to a negative terminal. Alternating current (AC), like the power in our homes, means that the electric current is constantly pulsing between a point of high current to a neutral state. In the end, the wiring is the same. You have a hot (energized) wire and a neutral wire which returns to the neutral state.
With all AC power from the electrical grid, the neutral sate is connected to the earth by means of a grounding wire or rod. For these applications, the earth can be seen as the great electrical equalizer. All electric current, on land, will eventually end up connecting back to the earth as its neutral state. A floating earth is a little different. We’ll get to that later, once we’ve covered the basics.
Okay, now it’s time to get to that abstract thinking. Visualize electric current flowing through a conductor in the same as water flows through a pipe. Water, like electricity, flows from a point of high energy to a point of low energy. Water in a tank, that is elevated, will always try find its way to the lowest point. Electricity, in an energized state, will always try find its way to a neutral state, which will be the grounded neutral.
The main water supply entering our homes is pressurized, either from an elevated water reservoir, a pump, or a combination of the two. When we open a faucet, the pressurized energy of the water is released, and will always flow downwards. After we have used the water, it flows down the drain to the lowest point.
The main electric supply to our homes is energized electrons. This power comes from a generating plant that is conducted to our homes through an electric grid, with several substations using transformers to supply the correct voltage. When an appliance is plugged in and switched on, the energy is released into the appliance and the energy is transferred. Once the electrons have released their energy, they flow back to the transformer along a neutral wire.
Drawing on the analogy between water supply and electric supply, we can understand the concept as follows. The hot wire performs the same function as the water pipes in your home. Instead of conducting pressurized water, the wire conducts energized electrons. The drainpipes in your home return depressurized water to the ground. Similarly, the neutral wire returns deenergized electrons to the earth.
If a water pipe is damaged, or bursts, there is an uncontrolled flow of water which will always make its way to the lowest point. When the insulation on an electric conductor is damaged, there is an uncontrolled flow of energized electrons back to the earth. When electricity does not encounter a resistance, flowing directly to the earth, this is known as a short circuit. It is taking a direct path back to the neutral state without encountering resistance.
The primary difference here is the energy contained in water and electricity. Water, at extremely high pressure, has a lot of energy and can be as dangerous as high-voltage electricity. It can cut through rock and metal, using industrial high-pressure pumps. However, the water pressure in our homes is regulated to keep it at a safe pressure in accordance to the strength of the pipes used. The water pressure in our homes is, therefore, safe for ordinary use. Electricity, at low voltage (like battery power), is also relatively safe. The power from a 12V battery is safe for us to touch. It is only when a short circuit causes an unrestricted electron flow that this power becomes dangerous. The resultant heat can melt through dense metal if there is sufficient current (amperage). Any electrical supply, higher than 50V, is considered dangerous. It can result in electrocution when we come into direct contact with the electric current.
Potential Difference —
Water pressure, and the power it has, compares to electric potential difference. This can be interpreted as the the strength of the electron flow, expressed in volts (V). The equivalent, water pressure, is expressed in Pounds per Square Inch (PSI). The effects are pretty much the same. Water at high PSI has the potential to be extremely dangerous. Electricity at high voltage is more dangerous than low voltage. While the basic concept of water flow and electron flow is the same. The potential energy of electricity will always be higher.
There are a few other differences. This will need more explanation. In the US, most electric supply has two hot wires, a neutral, and a ground wire. Whereas, we only have one main water supply pipe, and one main drainpipe. The dual voltage (120V/240V) electrical supply is easy to understand by comparing voltage to water pressure. This would be the same as having two water supply pipes. One high-pressure pipe and one low-pressure pipe. I’ll discuss the reasons for 120V and 240V AC electric supply next. The ground wire needs more explanation, this has to do with the concept of the earth being the great equalizer.
VIDEO — When & How to Replace Circuit Breaker
120V and 240V Supply —
I’ve often been asked why domestic power supply in the US utilizes both 120V and 240V. This voltage is nominal, most appliances can operate anywhere between 110V and 125V, or 220V – 240V. In most other countries, all appliances use only one voltage range (220V – 240V). Three phase industrial power (380V) is matter for another discussion. For now, we’re only going to deal with domestic 120V/240V power.
In all my years of electrical work, I’ve never heard a suitable answer as to why North America decided to take a different route. Though I have my own views on the matter.
Using a dual voltage (120/240V) makes no sense from an engineering point of view. It costs more, in terms of dual pole transformers and extra wiring along the supply grid. It complicates things, we need extra breakers and wiring in our homes. We can’t use the same outlets for our appliances. Incidentally, Japan made a similar decision. Though Japanese domestic power is only 100V.
Realistically, using only 240V is the best way to go. At a higher voltage, you get more watts per amp. A 1KW appliance, using 240V, will require 4.2A. The same appliance, running on 120V, will require 8.4A. A home with only 120V power supply will require more circuits, with a higher amperage and thicker wiring, to supply the current required for all our appliances. An average home in the US, with a 200A main supply, will only need around 100A in Europe.
So why 120V in the US? I think it was an economic decision, not a technical one. In the late 19th century, when AC electricity was being introduced, Britain and Europe ruled the world. Most of the of technology was being produced in these regions. At this time, America (and Japan) were experiencing rapid industrialization. Though neither country could compete with the established industries of Europe.
In order to stimulate economic growth in the USA, there needed to be a stimulus to persuade American consumers to buy American products. By using a voltage unique to the US meant that you could not use a European (240V) appliance. You had to buy an American made, 120V appliance. Because the US is the major industrial power on the North American continent, Canada, Mexico, and a few South American countries decided to follow the American example, adopting the same voltage as their standard.
While there is no clear cut evidence suggesting why US power supply is different, this is the conclusion I’ve come to.
For more practical purposes, we need understand the 120V/240 system and the types of outlets used in the US. In order to supply both voltages to your home, a 2-pole transformer is used. Each pole of the transformer supplies 120V. You can connect either one of the poles, using a neutral return, to obtain 120V. If you connect to both poles, eliminating the neutral wire, 240V is supplied. The electric flow back to earth for a 240V line is conducted via the transformer.
The most common electrical outlets —
- A 120V outlet can have two or three prongs. Though modern homes, complying with NEMA standards will always have three prongs (5-15R and 5-20R) the numbers 15 and 20 in this rating refer to the amp capacity of the outlet, either 15 or 20A. With this type of electric socket, the left prong should always be connected the 120V hot wire. The prong on the right is connected to neutral, and the top center prong is connected to the ground wire. The outlet can have a GFCI protector fitted to it. Though it is becoming more common to connect the ground wire to a GFCI protector at the electric panel. This provides a GFCI circuit for all outlets supplied by the GFCI breaker.
- A 240V 30A (L6-30R) locking outlet has a slightly different configuration. The ground wire is on the right. Moving clockwise to the 1o’clock position, you find the first hot terminal. Continuing to the 5o’clock position is the second hot wire.
- A 240V 50A (6-50R) uses the same clockwise rotation with slightly different orientation for the prongs. The first hot point is on the right (9o’clock), ground is in the 12o’clock position, and the second hot terminal in the 3o’clock position.
- A 120V/240V 50A RV-type outlet (14-50R) is the most complicated. It uses two hot wires and a ground wire, in exactly the same format as the 6-50R outlet. In order to supply 120V, a neutral point is in the 6o’clock position. This means you can connect to both hot wires to supply 240V and/or 120V, using the neutral.
The need to ground an AC electric installation is because all power generation facilities use the earth as the point of neutral energy. The ground is essentially a huge, non-conductive surface. I don’t want get too technical as this topic could fill pages.
Basically, there needs to be a universal way of stabilizing the electric grid. AC power moves in waves, known as a sine wave. This wave can become distorted by changes in voltage and frequency. Interferences from non-linear load, like inductive motors, cause distortions. Inductive load uses Electromagnetic Force (EMF). This causes a magnetic field that interferes with the current flowing through a conductor. It changes the structure of the sine wave.
Because the earth is the great equalizer throughout the electric grid, connecting a local power supply to the earth, by means of a grounding rod, helps minimize this interference. The neutral wire is also connected to the ground. This allows the sine wave to balance itself, using the neutral state of the earth. This is not perfect because of the distances involved. None the less, using a grounding rod, which is connected to the ground wire running to an outlet, helps minimize electric interference. Conducting the neutral current back to ground removes the “electric buzz” that is observed in sound and visual equipment, among others.
Where a grounding rod is not always possible, like using a portable generator or inverter on a boat, a floating earth is used. This means connecting an earth wire from the generator to a conductive point. The earth wire running to all the outlets is connected to the same point. A boat, or similar type of grounding point, doesn’t have the same neutralizing effect as the earth because of vast difference in area. However, it is the best means of balancing power output when it is not possible to connect to earth.
A second use of grounding is to provide a safety mechanism to protect users from electrocution. Since all AC current, supplied from the electric grid, eventually returns to ground, we can measure the resistance between the ground and the hot supply. The ground wire is connected to the neutral wire at the point of distribution. The same is done at the transformer and the generator. This means neutral is always being conducted back to earth along the power line. There is a voltage difference (less than 50V) between the neutral wire and the ground wire. This is because the earth is a weak conductor compared to the copper wire used for neutral wires. This is what a Ground Field Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) measures. Basically, if the current flows through a person directly to the ground, there is little resistance. The GFCI unit detects this low resistance and immediately opens the circuit, thereby protecting us from electrocution.
It is important that all electrical installations have a correctly installed grounding rod to reduce electric field interference. It is just as important to ensure all appliances that have a ground wire be connected to a circuit with GFCI protection to prevent the risk of electrocution.
Electric resistance —
The resistance, or impedance, of an electric conductor can get complicated. Though the basic principles are easy to grasp and can also be compared to water. Having compared voltage to water pressure, I’m going to make a similar comparison for impedance (amperage).
Electrical potential difference has the same effect as water pressure, when measuring the amount of energy that is transferred. Electrical impedance (measured in amps) can be understood in the same way as we measure water flow, in Gallons per Hour (GPH). To understand the relationship between amps and volts, we can simplify things by looking at the same relationship between PSI and GPH.
Water, at a high pressure, has more potential energy. This means that you can conduct this water through a relatively thin pipe and still have a good flow rate. In other words, high pressure water doesn’t need a wide diameter pipe to provide sufficient GPH for our needs. Conversely, low pressure water can supply the same GPH, provided a wider pipe is used.
If we take the average water pressure in a home (40 – 45 PSI), you can expect a maximum water flow of about 30 GPH, up to maximum distance of around 30-feet, using a ¼”pipe. If you’re using a ½”pipe, your flow rate will increase to about 200 GPH, up to about 200-feet. The pipe creates resistance, reducing the water flow. To increase the amount of water you’re able to use, you can either increase the pressure, or the diameter of the pipe, the result will be the same. If you supply the water at 90 PSI, you’ll get approximately 60 GPH from a ¼”pipe.
Electrical conductivity works in exactly the same way. A 120V extension cord, supplying 20A (up to 50-feet) will require a 12-gauge wire. If we reduce the Amps (current flow), you can use a thinner gauge wire . Hence a 15A extension cord (over the same distance) only needs a 14-gauge wire. If you increase the voltage from 120V to 240V, you can use a thinner wire to conduct the same amps. Just as you can use a thinner pipe at higher pressure to supply the same amount of water over a longer distance.
This is the simple part of electric impedance. The impedance within an appliance can become really complex. Not something we’ll be covering in this electricity guide 101 article. There is one thing that needs to be made clear on this topic, before we can begin diagnosing and repairing electric circuits or appliances.
All electric equipment uses resistance (or impedance) to create the desired effect. A resistance heater is the most simple of these. Incandescent lights work on the same principle. A densely coiled conductor causes resistance, slowing the flow of electrons. This results in a concentration of electric energy in the conductor which is converted into heat. The glowing heat also produces light. The resistance of an electric motor is channeled through precisely calculated electric coils to produce magnetic energy, which is converted into movement. Electronic devices use capacitance and resistance to control the electron flow, which creates binary information in a series on on/off signals.
If there is no resistance between hot and neutral, the current will flow directly to ground, causing a short circuit.
Basic Electric Safety
We all know how dangerous electricity can be. Though, until you’ve seen the worst side of injuries resulting from electrocution, you may underestimate its destructive power. I cannot overemphasize how important it is to be constantly aware of the potential danger relating to the extreme power of electricity. Even with all the modern safety measures, like circuit breakers and GFCI, a short circuit or electrocution can be deadly.
If you are not completely satisfied with your ability to execute an electrical repair, don’t take any chances, call a qualified electrician before risking your life, or the general safety of your home and your family.
If you feel confident that you fully comprehend the electric principles discussed thus far, you are close to being able to conduct some basic electrical repairs around the home, like fixing a power outlet that doesn’t work.
Start with the correct tools for the job:
- Insulated electricians screwdrivers.
- Wire cutters.
- Wire stripper.
- Insulated Pliers, including long-nose pliers for working in confined spaces.
- A soldering iron may be required, especially for fixing appliances.
Before you open an electric panel, light switch, or power outlet, always switch the main electric supply off. Use a multimeter to measure the voltage and ensure that the circuit is not live before proceeding. Never assume that the power is off, always test the voltage to be absolutely sure.
When testing hot current, always the correct insulated tools.
Be sure to always follow the correct color coding for electric installations:
- White: Neutral.
- Black or Red: hot 1 or hot 2
- Green, green/yellow, or uninsulated (bare): Ground.
When stripping insulation from wires, only remove enough insulation to fit the requirements of the connection terminal. Never leave hot or neutral wires exposed, with no insulation.
When fastening screws securing electrical wires, always ensure that they are properly secured. Check by pulling on the wire to see if it comes loose.
Before reconnecting the power always use a multimeter to check for a leakage between wires. Check for continuity between hot and neutral, hot and ground, neutral and ground. All breakers must be switched to the off position when conducting this test. If the GFCI is closed, in the “ON” position, you will read continuity between neutral and ground, as these wires are connected. You must check continuity between neutral and ground with the GFCI in the “OFF” position.
Understanding your multimeter
When diagnosing electric faults, we will be eliminating the possible causes until we find the problem. The most important instrument used for detecting electric faults is a multimeter. There are many types of multimeter’s available, with different functions, depending on the required tasks.
For DIY ► you’ll need an accurate multimeter / Fluke 117
For basic home electric fault detection, we don’t need a very sophisticated multimeter. With the following functions, you will be able to check faulty appliances, electrical outlets, wiring, and circuit breakers.
- AC volts measures voltage for an AC power supply.
- DC volts measures the voltage for a DC power supply.
- OHMS (Ω) measures the resistance of a conductor.
- Amps measures the current flowing through a conductor.
- Continuity checks for a break in a conductor or open circuit.
- The multimeter will use probes or electrodes. One is red, the other black. It’s best to have electrode points and alligator clamp connectors for all types of testing. These wires connect to the multimeter in different configurations. Multimeters usually have at least three connection options:
- Common: Usually designated with the abbreviation “COM”. This is where you connect the black probe wire, it is common for all types of tests.
- Volts, Ohms and Milliamps: This will be marked with the letter “V”, the symbol “Ω”, and the letters mA. You connect the red wire to this port to measure voltage, low current (milliamps), and resistance.
- Amperes: This port is identified by a number followed by the letter “A” (EG: 10A). You connect the red wire to this port when measuring high current amperes. The number indicates the maximum current for the internal fuse. Always measure amperage in series. This means that you need to break the hot line and measure across the two ends. In other words, the multimeter closes the circuit along the hot wire. The best way to measure amps is across a switch or breaker. With the switch open (in the “OFF” position), connect one probe to one of the terminals of the switch. The second probe connects to other side of the switch. If you connect the multimeter in parallel, when measuring amps, you will cause a short circuit. In other words, never connect between hot and neutral when using to AMP setting on your multimeter.
Multimeters may have more functions and connection ports. Though, for the purposes of basic electrical repairs, those described above, are all we need to understand.
You will be using you multimeter to check for all common electrical issues.
— Electrical Outlet Not Working
Diagnosing and Repairing Household Electric Faults
Now it’s time to get down to business, putting all this knowledge to work. All electrical faults around the home can be attributed to a few basic issues:
- Damaged conductor. This means that the conductor supplying the appliance has been broken, and no electricity is being supplied. Just like a burst water pipe won’t supply water to your home.
- Damaged resistor. Through the heat generated over time, all resistors will fail at some point. This can cause the resistive conductor to break, causing an open circuit. The current flow is then interrupted, and the appliance will stop working. Heat can also cause the resistor melt and fuse the conductors together. This will cause a short circuit as there is no longer any resistance, but the current continues to flow. A circuit breaker or fuse is designed to stop the electric current in the event of a short circuit. If the current is not stopped, an infinite flow electrons will continue to generate heat until the conductor melts entirely. This can cause an explosion or a fire.
- Electrical supply ceases. If there is no electricity being supplied, the appliance will obviously not work. This could be as a result of a power outage, a faulty switch, a tripped breaker, or ground fault interrupter (GFCI).
To establish if you have power at an outlet, use the multimeter to test for voltage. Do this with main power switched on. Be sure to only touch the insulated part of the multimeter probes when testing for voltage.
- Switch the multimeter to the VAC setting. There may be several calibration options. Select the voltage closest to the supply voltage. This must not be lower than voltage you’re testing. If you’re testing 120V, select the first voltage calibration that is greater than 120V.
- Test 120V by inserting the black probe into the neutral prong of the outlet, insert the red probe into the hot prong.
- Test 240 volts by inserting the black probe into the first hot prong, and the red probe into the second hot prong.
- You should get a voltage reading within 10% of the expected voltage for that circuit.
- If the voltage is too high or too low, the transformer supplying your home is faulty and you’ll need to call the electric utility company to repair it. Switch off the main power supply to your home until this is rectified. Incorrect voltage will damage most appliances.
- If you the voltage is close to zero, the circuit has no power. You may sometimes read a low voltage (up to about 10V), this still means no current.
When you have no current at the outlet, you need ascertain why. Assuming you’ve completed the checklist at the start of the article (checking the appliance, breakers, and extension cords), you will have to do some further investigation.
- Switch the main power supply off and check the voltage supplying the branch circuits, to ensure that there is no power being supplied.
- Check all connections to the circuit breakers. A wire that is not secured to the terminal will cause all the outlets on that circuit to stop working.
- With the power switched off, check for continuity across all the branch circuit breakers. With a breaker in the “ON” position, you should hear a beep when touching the two terminals connecting the wires to the breaker. If there is no continuity across the terminals of a breaker, try resetting it. If this doesn’t work, it means you have a faulty breaker, which needs to be replaced. If not, continue to the next step.
- Open the faulty outlet. Obviously, this must only be done with the main power supply switched off.
- Check the wires at the terminals. They can be burnt or broken.
- Check that the screws securing the wires at the terminals are tight and the wires are making contact with the terminals.
- If you observe any visual damage to the outlet, replace it.
- If you see broken or damaged wires, cut the damaged piece out and reconnect to the terminals.
- If a visual inspection yields no results, you can assume it is most likely a broken wire supplying the outlet.
- To test for a broken wire, you need to check continuity between the panel and the outlet. You can do this by placing a bridging wire between the hot and neutral points of the outlet. Never do this with power switched on, as it will cause a short circuit. After connecting the hot to the neutral at the outlet, you can test for continuity between the terminal of the breaker supplying that circuit and the neutral bar on your panel. If there is no beep between hot and neutral, one of these wires have a break and needs to be replaced.
- To identify whether a hot or neutral wire is broken, connect a wire to the neutral terminal of the outlet, long enough to reach your electric panel. Check for continuity from end of the wire to the neutral bar at your panel. If the multimeter beeps, you know the neutral wire is fine, and replace the hot wire. If it does not beep, you will need to replace the neutral wire.
- Before switching the power on after a repair like this, you need to do some safety checks. With all breakers and GFCI switched off, check for continuity between hot and neutral, hot and ground, neutral and ground. Your multimeter should not beep at any time through this check. If it does, it means there’s a short circuit between the wires that you’ve tested. Check that all wires have been properly secured. Refit the outlet and close the panel. Reconnect the power by switching on the main breaker and then all branch circuits.
Quick Guide to Common Electric Faults
Fault: outlet stopped working breaker not tripped.
- Cause: This could be a loose connection at the breaker or outlet. The wires supplying the outlet may be burnt or broken. The outlet may be damaged.
Fault: circuit breaker will not reset.
- Cause: Overload, short circuit, or faulty breaker.
Fault: Hot water heater tripping breaker.
- Cause: Faulty heating unit or thermostat.
Fault: Multiple electrical outlets not working.
- Cause: Tripped circuit breaker or GFCI. Damaged wiring.
Fault: Microwave keeps tripping breaker.
- Cause: Microwave may be faulty. If the microwave is plugged into a circuit with numerous other inductive appliances, like refrigerators and air conditioners, the startup current may be too high. It is recommended to spread this load between multiple circuits. Try avoid using microwaves, air conditioners, and refrigerators on the same circuit.
Fault: AC keeps tripping breaker.
- Cause: The cause will be the same as a microwave: faulty appliance or too many high-load appliances running on the same circuit.
Frequently Asked Questions : Home Electrical Outlets
Q: 💬 What causes a circuit breaker to trip?
A: 👴🏻 A current overload or short circuit. Sometimes, the cause may be a faulty breaker.
Q: 💬 How many watts can an outlet handle?
👴🏻 Answer —
- 15A 120V circuit can supply 1800W.
- 20A 120V circuit can supply 2400W.
- 30A 120V circuit can supply 3600W.
- 30A 120V/240V circuit can supply 7200W.
- 50A 120V/240V circuit can supply 12000W.
There can be a 10% – 15% voltage difference, in which case the watts will be proportionally less.
Q: 💬 Do circuit breakers go bad?
A: 👴🏻Circuit breakers have a limited lifespan. Depending on the manufacturer, a breaker can last anything from 5 – 20 years. Constant overloading or bad wiring can cause a circuit breaker to fail prematurely.
Q: 💬 Why does my breaker keep tripping?
A: 👴🏻 A circuit breaker is designed to trip when an overload or short circuit is detected. If breaker trips and will not reset, the cause will be either a current overload, short circuit, or a faulty breaker. If a breaker trips regularly but can be reset. It may be a faulty breaker but is usually a result of random high startup.
Inductive load appliances, like refrigerators, air conditioners, microwaves, and pumps, require a high startup current. When these appliances start, they can draw up to 300% of their normal running current. When two or more of these appliances start at the same time, which can happen at random, the breaker will trip because the startup current required by several inductive appliances will be too high. It’s best to remove some of these appliances from the circuit and use another circuit that doesn’t supply high-load appliances.