Best 15, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 100, 125, 150, 200 amp circuit breakers & boxes: GFCI, Circuit, Double Pole

Buildings or houses have their own unique set of electrical requirements. For example, 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 to a disaster and may only cost you more.

breaker on fire

If 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. Some of the 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, there are plenty of brands that sell circuit breakers and their parts. Some of the most notable brands in the market are Square D Homeline, GE, Siemens, Eaton / Cutlet Hammer, Zinsco, Murray, Pushmatic, Federal, Pacific, and many more. Durable ones protect your appliances from an electrical fault, so picking one from a known brand should be worth the extra money.

Combinations we’ll look at
15 20 30 40 50
60 100 125 150 200

There are several sections below, ranging from 15 to 200, indicating the amount of power that can go through them. However, there is one that goes as high as 400. Each section has a heading of the capacity, so you can conveniently use your browser’s search functionality to skip to that section. Here’s the list of best circuit breakers & boxes, whether you’re needing 15, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 100, 125, 150 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 to this question is the formula Amps x Volts = Watts.

To people who do not know much about it, we will cover it for you. We need to define what the different terms mean to have a better understanding.

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 that is passing through the wire. An example would be 70, 80, or 300 amp. If you are looking for wires by their capacity, you can check our article about wire size guide and chart.

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 volt, and 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. For safety purposes, they should only handle up to 80% of its capacity. So that is 1,440 watts for 15 amps and 2,880 watts for 30-rated one. Keep in mind that in the United States, most household circuits are 120 volts, while commercial spaces are 240 volts. If you are not, you can check with your building facilities or use a multimeter. Countries other than the United States use different volts ranging from 110 volts 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, family rooms, or bedrooms with small electrical systems, 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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20 amp 

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

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, bathroom, kitchen, or a 120 volts air conditioner.

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. For lights, you can have up to 40 light bulbs at 50 watts per bulb.

30 amp

With this circuit breaker, it can provide up to 3,600 watts of electrical power. You can use this in an RV supplying power to portable devices such as microwave, air conditioner, coffee maker, electrical water heater, hairdryer, electric skillet, toaster, and many more. They cost as little as USD 11 and as high as USD 70. Similar to the rest, some factors that affect price are the availability of stocks, brands, and features.

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 is taking. They cost as little as USD 20 and as high as USD 100.

However, 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, such as a 3-gauge wire, 2-gauge wire, or 1-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 things like solar panels. Some of the appliances you can power with it are a toaster, hairdryer, microwave, coffee maker, electric water heater, electric stove, and many more. 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 a washing machine, clothes dryer, or oven, will work well with these. These cost as low as USD 22 and as high as USD 200.

What requires this amount of power

As mentioned above, you can typically the above-mentioned with single 240-volt appliances, such as a clothes dryer, electric oven, and washing machine.

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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 a lot of 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 appliances and an air conditioning system. Should you need to make renovations at home, you may want to consider upgrading your electrical services. Aside from using it 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, air conditioners, washing machines, dryers, and the like. They can cost as low as USD 26 and as high as USD 136. Several factors affect price, such as brand, availability, demand, features, among others.

On the other hand, 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. In case 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, trucks, boats, RVs, marine equipment, buses, battery charges, and DC sound systems. 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, general lightning, 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, features, availability, and demand.

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?

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

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 not sure, 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, which is enough for large houses, as that’s what they typically need. We usually use it to power dishwashers, hot tubs, central air conditioning systems, electric water heaters, pool, electric oven, ceiling lighting, lamps, and so much more. 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 that it is rated for is the highest amount of power that it can potentially handle, so it is generally safe to replace yours with one that has 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, kitchen, and bath circuits. An additional neat feature is the Red Visi-Trip, which is an indication if the breaker has been tripped or not.

Parting thoughts

There is a myriad of tools in your home that all use electricity, and don’t think that you need to be doing gasless MIG welding in order to have this apply to you. When you’re dealing with these types of forces, it’s incredibly important that you know how to protect yourself by getting the right equipment, as you don’t want to feel the consequences of having improper equipment – it can put your cats, dogs, children and grandmother in danger!

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