Best 15, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 100, 125, 150, 200 amp circuit breakers & boxes

Buildings or houses have their own unique set of electrical requirements. A building with a capacity of 100 people may need higher electrical requirements than a house that can accommodate up to 5 people. Because of these varying requirements, manufacturers have designed different types and boxes. A wire comes in a wide array of sizes depending on its gauge. Outdoor wires are typically thicker and more heavy-duty than indoor wires. When planning to install or replace your electricals, it is important to consult with a professional. Using the incorrect specifications could lead to a disaster and may cost you more.

main breaker

Suppose you have ever been to a hardware or electrical store. You may have noticed there are a ton of electrical parts lying around. To people who are not familiar, it can be a bit overwhelming. Common terms you will encounter are:

  • Double pole
  • Single-pole
  • 2-pole circuit breaker
  • GFCI
  • and volt.

In the case of GFCI, it is the same as a ground fault circuit breaker. Don’t worry because we will be using these terms throughout the article.

Aside from these common terms, plenty of brands sell circuit breakers and their parts. Some of the most notable brands in the market are:

breakers
  • Square D Homeline
  • GE
  • Siemen
  • Eaton / Cutlet Hammer
  • Zinsco
  • Murray
  • Pushmatic
  • Federal
  • Pacific
  • and many more.

Durable ones protect your appliances from an electrical faults. Picking one from a known brand should be worth the extra money.

Combinations we’ll look at
1520304050
60100125150200

In several sections below, you can read about each variation. They range from 15 to 200 amp. It indicates the power that can go through them. However, there is one that goes as high as 400 amp. Each section has a heading of the capacity. It lets you conveniently use your browser’s search functionality to skip to that section. Here’s the list of best circuit breakers & boxes, whether you need 15 or 200 amps.

circuit breaker

How many watts can they handle?

Determining the load capacity is hard if you don’t know which values to use. The simple answer is the formula Amps x Volts = Watts.

We will cover it for people who do not know much about it. We need to define what the different terms mean to understand them better.

Ampere measures the amount of electrical charge that flows through a point in a given second. In simpler terms, it indicates the amount of electrical current passing through the wire. An example would be 70 or 300 amp. If you are looking for wires by their capacity, you can check our wire size guide and chart article.

Volt or volts is short for voltage. We typically use it or V to express voltage. It is the measurement of how strong electricity pushes through a circuit. In simpler terms, the voltage tells the amount of pressure flowing through the circuit at a given time.

electrical wiring

Lastly, watt or watts is short for wattage. It is the measurement of electrical power a device uses. By determining the wattage, a power company determines your utility bill.

If you are still having trouble wrapping your head around terms such as watt, here is a great example of using a water hose. Similar to how electricity runs through current, water flows through a hose. The volume of water flowing through the hose is amps, while the pressure would be the volts. The watts relate to how much power the water can provide.

To answer the question, here is the solution.

15 x 120 volts = 1,800 watts

30 x 120 volts = 3,600 watts

A 15 breaker can handle up to 1,800 watts, while a one with twice the amps can handle up to 3,600 watts. They should only handle up to 80% of their capacity for safety purposes. That is 1,440 watts for 15 amps and 2,880 watts for 30-rated ones. Keep in mind that in the United States, most household circuits are 120 volts. Commercial spaces are commonly 240 volts. You can check with your building facilities or use a multimeter if you are not. Countries other than the United States use different volts ranging from 110 to 240 volts.

Evaluating Electrical Load Capacity

fuses and breaker

These are the steps in determining the electrical load capacity.

  1. Find the capacity of your breaker.
  2. Since they can only handle up to 80% of their rated capacity, multiply it by 0.8.
  3. Find the draw of all the devices you plan to plug into the circuit.

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In the following sections, we will be using 120 volts for the voltage since it is more used than 240 volts in the United States. You will have to take 80% of the wattage values below for safety purposes.

15 amp

This breaker can safely handle up to 1,800 watts. Living rooms or bedrooms with small electrical systems such as ceiling lights and alarms can work well and safely with this amount of power. Anything more heavy-duty than these items may lead to safety concerns. You may want to look into the other options that can handle more.

How much are they?

Several factors determine the price, such as type and brand. They cost as little as USD 5 or as high as USD 35.

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electrical breakers

20 amp

This breaker can power up to 2,400 watts. It can typically provide power to standard outlets and ceiling lighting systems. It’s also good for dedicated appliances. They cost as little as USD 5 or as high as USD 40. Different factors determine the price, such as brand and type.

What is it rated for?

Whenever a circuit has a rating of 20 amps, it and its wires should be rated for at least that amount. At least a 12-gauge wire would be great. You can use it in outdoor receptacles and bathrooms.

How many outlets and lights can I put on this breaker?

A rule of thumb is to assign 1.5 amps per outlet, which gives you about ten to thirteen outlets for this amount of power. You can have up to 40 light bulbs at 50 watts per bulb for lights.

30 amp

This circuit breaker can provide up to 3,600 watts of electrical power. You can use this in an RV supplying power to portable devices such as a microwave or an electric water heater. It’s also great for a hairdryer or an electric skillet. They cost as little as USD 11 and as high as USD 70. Similar to the rest, some factors affect the price. Make sure to look into the brands and features of various products.

40 amp

This circuit breaker can handle up to 4,800 watts of power. There is no exact number of appliances because it depends on how much load an appliance takes. They cost as little as USD 20 and as high as USD 100.

You may have wondered what happens if the panelboard only has one slot left and you need two circuit breakers? For this instance, you will have to use a tandem one. It is a special option that allows two 120 volt circuits to fit in one slot. It has its limitations, so you may want to read up on it before deciding.

What wire do I use for this?

You must at least use a 4-gauge wire with this sort of wire. If a 4-gauge wire is unavailable, you can use thicker wires. They include ones such as a 3-gauge wire and a 2-gauge wire.

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50 amp

A 50 amp circuit breaker can handle up to 6,000 watts of power. These are common for RVs that are often powered by solar panels. Some of the appliances you can power with it are a toaster and an electric stove. They cost as low as USD 20 and as high as USD 125.

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60 amp

These can handle up to 7,200 watts of power. If you have a 240 volts appliance, it can only handle one of it at a time. 240-volt appliances, such as washing machines or clothes dryers, are great examples. An oven will also work well with these. These costs are as low as USD 22 and as high as USD 200.

What requires this amount of power

You can see typically those mentioned above with single 240-volt appliances, such as a clothes dryer and electric ovens. They’re also great for your washing machine needs.

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100 amp

A 100 amp circuit breaker can handle up to 12,000 watts of power. With this capacity, you can probably do many things at home or the office. They can cost as little as USD 21 and as high as USD 127.

What is it used for?

It is enough power to provide a medium-sized home with several 240 volts of appliances and an air conditioning system. Should you need to make renovations at home, you may consider upgrading your electrical services. Aside from using them at home, you can also use them for your marine and automotive needs.

125 amp

A circuit breaker with 125 amp can safely handle up to 15,000 watts of power. People who purchase this type use it for large appliances that require much power, such as water heaters and air conditioners. They’re also great for washing machines and dryers, and the like. They can cost as low as USD 26 and as high as USD 136. Several factors affect prices, such as demand and features.

If you are using it with 240 volts, you can expect it can handle up to 30,000 watts of power. Residential buildings and houses typically use 120 volts, whereas office spaces and corporate towers use 240 volts. If you are unsure, you may want to check with your building facilities. If you know how to use a multimeter, you can quickly check the voltage. If you don’t know, you can always call a professional electrician to do the work for you.

150 amp

With a 150 amp circuit breaker, you can safely power up to 18,000 watts. Their most common applications are car audio systems and trucks. It’s also used in boats and RVs. Marine equipment and buses could easily use a 150 amp breaker. Battery charges and DC sound systems also have great electrical needs, which is why they could use them. Prices go for as low as USD 20 and as high as USD 100.

200 amp

This circuit breaker can handle up to 24,000 watts of power safely. It is enough to provide power to an electric heating system and general lightning. They’re great for multiple electrical home appliances and receptacle circuits. They can cost as low as USD 20 and as high as USD 165. Several factors affect price, including but not limited to brand and features.

man adjusting breaker

How many breakers are allowed on a 200 amp panel?

A panel will always have half the stabs of the total slots. For example, a panel with 40 slots has 20 stabs. If your panel is rated for 200, the sum of the ratings of the different breakers should not exceed 200.

Is it enough for a house?

main breaker in the shed

In most houses, this is enough to power the entire house. It can provide sufficient power to general appliances and electrical heating systems. Use it for your ceiling lighting and receptacle circuits. However, you may want to consider opting for a bigger size for large households.

Can I use a 200 amp panel with 100 service?

You should not use a 100 amp service with a 200-rated panel unless the service has protection at that level. Doing so will only lead to safety issues or even electrical failure. If you are unsure, it is best to contact a professional electrician.

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400 amp

With a 400 amp circuit breaker, you can supply power up to 48,000 watts. It is enough for large houses, as that’s what they typically need. We usually use it to power dishwashers and hot tubs. It’s also great for central air conditioning systems and electric water heaters. Your pool and electric oven use a lot of electricity and could be hooked up with this system. They can cost as little as USD 300 and as high as USD 900.

Can I replace a 15 amp breaker with a 20 one?

Yes, replacing a rating-15 with a 20-rated one is possible. However, seek evaluation from a professional electrician before making any replacements. You might burn your house down via electrical fire if you don’t do things right. You should know that the number it is rated for is the highest amount of power that it can potentially handle. It is generally safe to replace yours with one with a higher rating if there’s a reason for you to do so.

Square D QO

The Square D QO GFCI Breaker uses an innovative neutral connection, resulting in faster installation and fewer connections. This GFCI breaker protects all outdoor appliances and the kitchen. It also does great for your bath circuits. An additional neat feature is the Red Visi-Trip, which indicates whether the breaker has been tripped or not.

Parting thoughts

inside a main breaker

There are many tools in your home that all use electricity. When you’re dealing with these types of forces, it’s important you know how to protect yourself by getting the right equipment. You don’t want to feel the consequences of having improper equipment. It can put your children and grandmother in danger!

FAQ

What breakers are best?

Schneider Electric’s Square D is quite a popular choice in the market right now. The installation is fast. The breaker is reliable and shuts down to prevent buildings and homes from major fires and accidents. The diagnostics feature is a lifesaver that saves time and accurately predicts the problem.

Is Square D better than Siemens?

Both have their advantages, and the choice boils down to what you want out of your breaker panels. Square D uses high-quality material to make its panels and offers a large variety of products in its line of breakers. Siemens offers great innovation in their products which makes them easy to install. It comes down to whether you want quality or innovation.

There are a couple of factors to consider before buying your next circuit breaker. It’s not something you can pick up without a thought at a store and fit right into your home.

Time needed: 5 minutes.

How do I pick the right breaker?

  1. Find out the voltage rating.

    How much voltage will be used in the home will determine the rating of the breaker you buy. The highest voltage will determine this. Make sure the breaker capacity is never lower than the voltage demand in your home. This could cause a short circuit.

  2. High ambient temperature

    If you live in areas where the weather is too hot or too cold, this is for you. Breakers will need to be calibrated to a specific ambient temperature.

  3. Consider the continuous current rating.

    This is measured in amperes. This is specified by the National Electric Code.