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How to install a 20 amp plug

Updated February 21, 2017

A 20 amp outlet requires using a 12-2 gauge electrical wire. This means you cannot simply replace an old outlet with a new one, unless the electrical wire is already in place. Installing an 20 amp outlet in your home requires the same process as installing a standard electrical socket. However, you may need to run new wire from the circuit panel for the new outlet.

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  1. Turn off the breaker for the room you need to install the outlet at the circuit panel.

  2. Determine where in the room you want to install the outlet. A typical outlet needs to be at least 8 inches above the floor.

  3. Place the electrical box over the drywall and trace around it with the pencil. Cut around the outline by using the drywall saw.

  4. Run a new 12-gauge wire from the circuit panel and up through the wall to the location of the outlet, if necessary. Insert a fish wire into the hole and connect the electrical wire. Pull the wire up and out of the hole.

  5. Extend the wire 6 inches from the wall. Insert the wire through an opening in the electrical box. Insert the electrical box into the wall. Secure the electrical box with screws using the power drill.

  6. Remove 2 inches of insulation from the wire with the wire stripper or use a utility knife. This exposes a black, a white and a copper wire. Remove half an inch of insulation from the black and white wires.

  7. Attach the white or neutral wire to the sliver-coloured screw on the 20 amp outlet by using a screwdriver. Attach the black or hot wire to the gold-coloured screw. Connect the copper wire to the ground screw.

  8. Insert the outlet into the electrical box and secure it with screws by using the screwdriver. Turn on the circuit at the circuit panel and then test the outlet.

  9. Tip

    12-2 gauge wire means that there is neutral wire and a hot wire with a ground wire, all in one electrical wire.

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Things You'll Need

  • Electrical box
  • Pencil
  • Drywall saw
  • 12 gauge wire
  • Screws
  • Power drill
  • Wire stripper
  • Utility knife
  • Screwdriver

About the Author

Cameron Easey has over 15 years customer service experience, with eight of those years in the insurance industry. He has earned various designations from organizations like the Insurance Institute of America and LOMA. Easey earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and history from Western Michigan University.

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