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I have a circuit breaker in my trailer, it's a Square D single pole. All of them are 20 amps and if I put on two extra things everything goes off. Can I change the 20 amp to a 30 amp so it won't keep cutting off just putting on a single burner and a toaster oven?

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  • Circuit breakers protect wires in the walls from burning up and causing fires. You want to die in a fire, go right ahead. Most people learn to only have the burner or the toaster on at the same time. It might be possible to add more circuits to the panel and stay safe.
    – crip659
    Commented Jul 5 at 21:53
  • The usual reason we're hearing that, this summer, is air conditioners. PORTABLE air conditioners are a particular nuisance here, because they take way too much power for the weak cooling they provide. Switching to window units, if possible, can make all the difference in the world. Otherwise switch to 2-hose units, or put them on different circuits so there is only 1 per circuit. youtube.com/watch?v=_-mBeYC2KGc Commented Jul 6 at 18:54

3 Answers 3

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The breaker is doing exactly what it is supposed to do.

Breakers protect wires (most directly) from burning up, and also protect appliances and your home from burning up.

A 20A breaker can handle 120V x 20A = 2400 Watts. It won't (usually) trip at 2401 Watts. But it will trip very quickly at 4800 Watts (2x) and hopefully within a few minutes at 2,800 Watts (20% over capacity).

A 20A breaker needs 12 AWG or larger wire. A 30A breaker needs 10 AWG or larger wire. Aside from some other constraints (it can get complicated), you almost certainly have 12 AWG wire in the circuit, so you can't install a larger breaker. Period.

A typical 20A kitchen circuit is wired to a group of 15A or 20A receptacles. Most small appliances (single burner, toaster oven, coffee pot, etc.) are designed for a 15A receptacle for compatibility with all locations. Each of those can pull up to 1,800 Watts provided they are used for only short periods of time, which includes most plug-in appliances except space heaters. As a result, most toasters and burners and similar appliances will use somewhere between 1,500 Watts and 1,800 Watts when running. Anything less and people will complain that they don't work very effectively (and they'd be right).

1,500 W x 2 = 3,000 W

1,800 W x 2 = 3,600 W

At 3,000 W (25A) or more I would expect the breaker to trip pretty quickly. Your breaker is working - that's a good thing.

There are really only two solutions:

  • Learn how to use the limited capacity. As in: Turn off the burner for the 4 minutes it takes to make your toast.
  • Add a new circuit. That requires a breaker, cable, a receptacle and installation. If your breaker panel has space and the path from panel to kitchen is accessible then that is not too hard to do. If your breaker panel is full or it is hard to run a new cable then that could be very hard to do. Can't say without a lot more information.
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That circuit breaker keeps you alive.

That is a safety device. It's there to keep you from setting the wires in your walls on fire and burning the house down with you and yours in it.

If you double the loads, you get four times the wire heat because math.*

Where did you get this idea? If these are bedroom circuits, they're probably 15 amp and I bet somebody already did this "bump the breaker" once. So if you take it to 30 amps, that's four times the wire heat in your walls. And on hot days when the sun is already heating walls and making it hard for wires to cool!

So instead of upsizing the breaker, I would examine whether 20 amps is even the correct size. A cheap 60 cent receptacle is a "wire size gauge" - its backstab holes will only fit #14 wire. If the wire on your 20 amp breaker pokes into the hole without interference, put it back to a 15A breaker.

Spread the loads across multiple circuits

You may have noticed your panel has many handle throws. That's because your house has more than 1 circuit. Do you know which sockets are on which circuits? Find out.

Right off the bat, when the circuit breaker trips, STOP and search the house for everything that has stopped working. Identify every socket that has gone dead, (some you'll know because the loads stopped working). Mark the breaker handle and all the sockets and lights and hardwired appliances with a name. Now you know they're all on the same circuit.

Take one of your big loads and move where it's plugged into, so it's not on that circuit. The goal is to spread your large loads around so they are on different circuits and you stay within the capacity of each circuit.

I bet these are 1-hose portable air conditioners. We had had an epidemic of this exact problem as people try to run multiples of them on the same circuit (1 isn't enough). These take a TREMENDOUS amount of power for the little practical cooling they provide, because well over half their cooling power is being used to correct stupidities in their design. Technology Connections has a great video on that. And their tanks fill, and they stop until you empty them out, so they're not even running 100% of the time. That reduces their capacity further.

A less bad option is a 2-hose portable (hold out for this!!!) and the MUCH better option is a window unit. Window units are half the cost and don't need dumping. If at all possible, make it happen. I had picked up a $99 window unit, tiny narrow thing, 5000 BTUs - but narrow enough to fit in my casaement window. I built a little platform for it to perch on, and built cover-ups for the rest of the window. It just blew away the "8000 BTU" portable A/C and used 1/3 the electricity doing the job. That means I could've run 3 of them. Only needed the one.


* Because of how Ohm's Law V=IR interacts with Watt's Law W=VI. The wires in the walls has a fixed resistance R. Double current I, and V doubles. But use Watt's Law to get the heat in watts, and since V and I both doubled, watts quadruples!

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  • I thank you so so much I figured the bigger amp it wouldn't shut off but I didn't know that's why I asked before I did it I am very grateful I got a small old little trailer I do not want to burn up in it that's why I was scared when everything started turning off cuz I have the electric in here when they built this trailer 1969 it's all messed up half my plugs don't work and I really don't have much of anybody to ask thank you Commented Jul 7 at 20:27
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If two things together blow a breaker, just don't use them together. Plug the toaster in somewhere else or finish cooking then make toast while you wash the pan. Swapping the breaker will cause a fire.

If a "single burner" is part of the problem, I'm going to guess it's not a range but just a single plug-in cooking ring? If so, other options would be to plug that in somewhere else, or to get a gas (propane, kerosene, etc) ring.

A third solution would be to have an electrician install a new outlet for the burner so it can be used along with anything else. Don't do that yourself.

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  • Thank you for your advice very very much I appreciate it I live by myself I'm an old lady I have nobody to help me with stuff so I very much appreciate Commented Jul 7 at 20:26

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