My new pool pump specs are for 20 Amp circuit on 12 gauge wire. My old pump was on a 15 Amp circuit. I was connected to a 15 Amp GFCI outlet with 12 gauge wire. The pump was 13 years old and we had issues with the electrical motor and shorted wiring. As the new pump calls for 20A, can I just swap out the 15A breaker in my sub-panel for a 20A breaker and change to a 20A GFCI?

  • I just want to re-emphasize for other people that @Terry Addley knows to replace both the breaker and the outlet. Commented Jul 3, 2015 at 19:21
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    @ZachMierzejewski, why does he have to replace the receptacle? Commented Jul 4, 2015 at 1:01
  • @SpeedyPetey It was my knee jerk reaction to pulling 20 amps through a single socket. Thank you for asking for clarification though. Brad Gilbert explained it nicely in his comment below. Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 17:43
  • A dual receptacle counts as 2 sockets, e.g. The common-as-dirt 60 cent receptacles. That satisfies the "must have at least two 15A sockets on a 20A circuit" requirement. Commented Dec 5, 2017 at 2:15

2 Answers 2


If your entire branch circuit is using 12 AWG wire, then yes. Swap the old breaker with a new 20 Amp GFCI breaker.

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    +1 because the key part is the "entire 12 AWG" part, but he should replace both the breaker and the outlet. Sidenote since you recommend a GFCI breaker: There should only be one GFCI in series in a circuit, so don't install both a GFCI breaker and GFCI outlet. Commented Jul 3, 2015 at 19:22
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    @ZachMierzejewski It is perfectly fine to have 15A outlets on a 20A breaker. The thinking is that you are unlikely to pull the entire 20 amps through a single receptacle. ( Plus most of the high quality 15A outlets I seen have the same internal construction as a 20A outlet. ) In this case the outlet should be changed since there is going to only be one device on it. Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 3:40
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    You have to remember, even a 15A rated GFI is TWO 15A receptacles on one yoke, and has a 20A feed-thru rating. Says so right on the device. Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 20:25

You may upgrade the breaker to 20 A if the wire is 12 AWG copper, but you may not if the wire is 12 AWG aluminum per Table 310.15(B)(16) (quote is from NEC:2011) -- Note, aluminum wiring for 12 AWG is uncommon in homes constructed within the past 30 years: NEC:2011 Table 310.15(B)(16)

You will also need to upgrade the outlet if it is the only receptacle on the circuit per 210.21(B)(1), and if the pool motor does not meet the definition of 438.81(B) (quotes are from NEC:2011):

210.21(B)(1) Single Receptacle on an Individual Branch Circuit.

A single receptacle installed on an individual branch circuit shall have an ampere rating not less than that of the branch circuit.

Exception No. 1: A receptacle installed in accordance with 430.81(B).

Exception No. 2: A receptacle installed exclusively for the use of a cord-and-plug-connected arc welder shall be permitted to have an ampere rating not less than the minimum branch-circuit conductor ampacity determined by 630.11(A) for arc welders.

438.81(B) Portable Motor of 1⁄3 Horsepower or Less.

For a portable motor rated at 1⁄3 hp or less, the controller shall be permitted to be an attachment plug and receptacle or cord connector.

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