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I am adding some additional outlets and outside lights to my garage. The existing outlets are on 12 gauge wiring, so presumably a 20 amp circuit (I did not check this - did not have my reading glasses with me when I was at the breaker box 8-). The lighting fixtures are LED type, so very low power needs compared to incandescent lighting. I was considering running 12 gauge to the new outlets, and 14 gauge from the new outlets to the outside lights (the lights are the terminal equipment in all cases), but I believe I would need 15 amp protection for that portion of the circuit. After a large number of not-very-useful searches, I finally came across this stackexchange question, which nixed my idea of using a 15 amp GFCI. I could not find so straightforward an answer for AFCI outlets, but I assume the same is true.

So, my question is, is there an outlet-mounted device (preferably with actual outlets) that can provide 15 amp overcurrent protection to the next device in the branch?

As an aside, is there, by any chance, a provision in the U.S NEC for connecting a low demand device at the end of a circuit this way without addition overcurrent protection? (I expect not...)

* Edit *

Some additional searching has lead me to panel mount thermal circuit breakers, such as these devices:

Carling Switch Circuit Breakers

Schurter TS-709-15 Circuit Breaker

leading me to wonder if I could put one of these in an electrical box where the 12 gauge and 14 gauge meet, and be to code.

  • My understanding is a breaker that includes GFCI and/or AFCI, by definition includes overcurrent protection (because that is what a breaker does), a GFCI or AFCI device (e.g., with outlets) downstream from the panel does NOT provide overcurrent protection. And, except for a wire-change situation as you described, most people would never need such a thing. That being said, I have (came with the house, at least 40 years old) a basement workshop set of breakers designed as "ordinary looking" switches in a regular 1-gang box. No idea if such things are made any more. – manassehkatz Sep 4 '18 at 16:59
  • The Carling and Schurter items you linked appear to be designed to be built as part of equipment, not to be inserted as a part of the normal building electrical system. While they would technically work to get the job done, I have a feeling they won't pass inspection. Plus the work involved would be significant - they don't have normal screw terminals like a regular switch. A quick look at homedepot.com ~ $25 extra for 250' 12/2 vs. 14/2 - 10 cents a foot! Unless you are dealing with really long distances, just get the 12/2 and be done with it. – manassehkatz Sep 5 '18 at 0:40
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Your assumption is correct. The over current device is there to protect the entire wiring system from a fault and this does not change even if you install allow voltage device at the end of the circuit.

You can only install a over current device in an approved designed enclosure and this is regulated by NEMA in order to meet NEC requirements.

I will mention there are methods of installing over current protection so you can reduce the size of the wiring to a device, but I don't want to release that information to any DIY since there is a better than average chance it would be installed incorrectly or abused. I believe something like that needs to be done by a licensed professional with the correct parts that can not be purchased from a standard big box or local hardware store.

So weighing price between installing a #12 or an over current protection. I would think the #12 would win out.

Stay safe.

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