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I have too many high powered things in the kitchen and the breaker box is downstairs behind a locked door. I have to constantly bug my landlady to reset the breaker.

I want to buy something like a surge protector (that didn't work) so if I accidentally run two things at once, it will trip the plug in my apartment before the breaker in the basement.

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    What's the draw of the microwave? What's the draw of the other devices on the circuit? What's the amperage capacity of the circuit? More information, please.
    – isherwood
    Jun 21 '21 at 14:37
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    Also, are you sure there's only one circuit in your kitchen? Modern U.S. code calls for multiple.
    – isherwood
    Jun 21 '21 at 14:38
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    @isherwood modern US code also calls for tenants having access to their own breakers. Jun 21 '21 at 21:11
  • get an appliance pigtail, a fuse+holder, a junction box, and a receptacle; total cost: under $20. The fuse should be sized to blow before the breaker. Make sure both guilty parties are plugged in through the fuse.
    – dandavis
    Jun 21 '21 at 21:52
  • Yes, what is this stove you're using, and how many amps does the microwave pull for that matter? Jun 21 '21 at 22:36
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Due to manufacturing variability and operating tolerances it can be difficult to arrange circuit breakers with similar ratings so that one consistently trips before another. If your circuit has a 20 A breaker and you plug in your own device with a 15 A breaker you might catch some of the trips at the 15 A breaker, but there's no guarantee. Maybe "some of the time" is better than the situation you have now, though.

You might try a device like this: (photo credit: Amazon)

outlet cover

If you cover all the outlets except one it'll serve as a reminder when you go to plug in a second appliance that you need to ensure others are unplugged first. Remove the cover from an outlet you want to use and insert it into whichever outlet was previously used.

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This is a user behavior adjustment solution.

Do what my sweetie and I do.

Every appliance we have has a number between 0 and 12. It is the number of amperes the appliance draws. It is based on looking at the nameplates of the appliances and seeing what it says for amps, VA or watts. (And dividing by our nation's voltage in that case).

These are our numbers. You need to look on your own appliances for your numbers. But expect to see some 12s aka 1500 watts.

  • toaster 7
  • microwave 12
  • heater-fan 7 or 12
  • hair dryer 12... or 15 if it's 1800W
  • computer 1 (iMac)
  • refrigerator 1 (really)
  • crock pot 2
  • random heat making appliance, assume 12
  • cell phone charger or anything with a wall wart = 0.1 (too small to count)

We know which rooms are on each circuit, we know how many amps each circuit can bear (20) and we know the main breaker trip for the whole house (30 in our weird case).

Don't turn on stuff that exceeds the number on the breaker handle.

Heater (12) is on, want toast (7) = 19, what do you do?
You flip heater to low (7), make toast (7). = 14 that's fine.

You leave a little margin to account for fridge, computer, etc.

Done and dusted!

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What you want to do will only work if everything is connected to the same device.

For example they make plug strips that do have circuit breakers if your microwave is plugged in to this and the other device say coffee maker or toaster is on the other side if the room the locked door breaker will still trip.

If both devices are plugged into the strip and used the breaker on the strip may trip first. It depends on the manufacture trip curve if they are both the same amperage.

Current code and code for many years has required 20 amp circuits in kitchens. So you should have 2 circuits in there for counter top appliances.

All of the plug strips that I remember seeing are 15 amp so they would trip first if both items were plugged in to the same strip and drawing power at the same time.

The power strip solution may make your life a bit easier or at least you will be able to reset it and wait for the toaster or microwave to finish before running another high wattage device.

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If the microwave is on the same circuit as the kitchen lights or other room lights, replace any incandescent or CFL bulbs with LEDs. That alone may solve the problem. If you have, say, 5 60W bulbs you'll get back 2 amps.

If the microwave is on the same circuit as a toaster, tea kettle, or other high power small appliances, move them all to one location in the kitchen and cover up all but one receptacle so only one can be plugged in at a time.

If the microwave is on the same circuit as the dishwasher, disposal, or other major appliance, see if there is another outlet in the kitchen that is not. This shouldn't happen, those things should have their own circuits, but in a rental you can't fix such problems properly yourself.

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What kind of stove are you talking about? A kitchen stove should be on it's own circuit since it should be 240v and using 30-50 amps. For the sake of this answer I am going to assume you're using something like a griddle or George Foreman Grill.

There is no practical solution to your problem aside from remembering to not use two items at once.

One thing you could do is run a heavy duty extension cord (12 gauge) from a different outlet to the appliance which has the shortest run time.

A stove is typically running for 30 minutes or more but a microwave is usually 30 seconds to 5 minutes so use the microwave on the extension cord.

Just make sure it's tucked/stapled away nicely and not a tripping hazard.

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