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#86213 09/25/03 10:04 PM
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 840
I had an interesting discussion today. I was told by an electrical contractor that they used #14 pigtails for all their receptacle connections on 20 amp ciruits.

Their justification for this pratice is that they install 15 amp receptacles, and that the circuit should never be loaded above 16 amps anyway.

They say that they pass inspection, and I believe that since these jobs are not hidden from the public eye. They are in big-name retail stores in major malls in this area.

I took the liberty of calling them "hacks" and of course I was scoffed at. [Linked Image]

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Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 1,457
From Mike Holts newsletter.
Q8. I have an issue where a contractor used 15A, 125V receptacles on a 20A circuit with 12 AWG conductors. In addition, the contractor used 14 AWG tap conductors to the 15A receptacles. I feel that a 20A rated receptacle is required and the conductors to the receptacle shall be a minimum 12 AWG. Am I right?

A8. Almost. A 15A rated receptacle can be connected to a 20A branch circuit that supplies two or more receptacles (this would include a single duplex receptacle, because it contains two receptacles) [210.21(B)(3)]. However, the tap rule contained in 210.19(A)(4) Ex. 1(c) clearly states that branch circuit taps are not permitted for receptacles. So the 15A receptacles are fine, as long as there are at least two of them on a circuit, but the 14 AWG pigtails are a Code violation

Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 650
Probably confusion with the allowable taps for 'outlets' in Exception 1 of 210.19.(4) and also shown in table 210.24. If I understand this correctly, in a 20A (or even a 30A) circuit, you are allowed to have 14ga tap wires to an 'outlet'...but the outlet must _not_ be a receptacle outlet.

This makes sense since many outlets are fixed known loads, but receptacle outlets have the capability of being loaded until the breaker trips.


Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 2,527
It’s hard to imagine there could be more than a few pennies saved for a foot of #12, possibly larger splices and extra labor needed. Maybe for single receptacles at best, but certainly not duplex...

Joined: May 2002
Posts: 1,716
Bjarney, I would think the extra effort to carry #14 wire around for these pigtails would cost more.

I think there is probably a sinister reason behind this practice, they are using backstab devices.

Of course it may just be the installers have weak hands. [Linked Image]


Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 7,313
Likes: 7
Before the rocks start flying.....
Most installations are inspected "rough" and "final". On "rough", most times, the "tails" are not made-up, unless it's a multi-wire circuit, then the neutrals are tailed. At "final", all the devices, plates, etc, are installed, and the AHJ doesn't take anything "apart" device wise.

Personally, a comm EC that uses #14 tails is not the "norn" around here, as I have never heard of this. (As an EC and an AHJ). Not saying someone would "do it", but it's very doubtful.

The 32 sq mile twp that I am an AHJ in has "everything" from a major regional mall, to office complexes, strip malls, retail, warehouses, hospital, chem plants, and tons of resi, and I have not come across this.

As Bjarney implied, doubtful if it's a $$$ move.


Joined: May 2002
Posts: 1,716
John, our local inspectors will have random receptacles and switches opened up in their finals. If we are in a state final it isn't uncommon for 50% of all devices to be opened.

In both of the above it does depend on whether you are new to the inspectors and your past history with the them.


Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 197
Gwz Offline
Several years ago, had a new contractor.

He had several one and two family dwellings to wire and he used EMT.

I bet he lost money on the first unit.

He used 12AWG and 20A CB's.

When he got to the first junction box he changed to 14 AWG.

Was that $$$$ ?

Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 163
I've seen this more recently in residential work...EC's using #12 NM and those cheap duplex from Home used to be able to backstab these with the #12, now you need a they pigtail with #14.

Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 192
EXCELLENT answer Electricmanscott! It is nice to see others referencing known/reliable sources (other than the often ambiguous code-book). Forums would be quite desolate without opinions. However, opinions alone have their limits and are all too often misconstrued as facts.

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