What is the amperage for typical household circuits?

I have been considering getting a 110V FCAW/GMAW welder. These require 20A circuits, but I don’t know what households typically have. Can anyone enlighten me?


Homes with circuit breakers. Normally.
Lighting 15 amp.
Outlets 20 Amps.

Standard household outlet is 15 amps. Various places in a house will have 20 amp outlets depending on when the house was built to code, like bathroom and kitchen counter top outlets.

That is incorrect. Unless specifically requested otherwise bedroom and living room outlets will be 15 amp.

IME, most homes have 15 amp circuits for lighting and general outlets. Only a few circuits for special loads, like the refrigerator or in newer homes, kitchen counter outlets, will be rated for 20 amps.

The smart thing to do would be to check your circuit breaker panel and identify any single pole 20 amp circuits that are there and see if any are suitable for your use. If none are present/suitable, you will need to contact a licensed electrician to install a new circuit for you.

Note, just changing a circuit breaker to a 20 amp is NOT an option as the 14 gage wire for a 15 amp circuit is not approved for a 20 amp load. For a 20 amp circuit, you will need 12 gage wire.

20 amp circuits are required per the NEC for new kitchen and bathroom circuits, and they’re all but standard for general receptacle circuits now as well. Everyone simply has more stuff to plug in these days - the time when a home’s demands could be met with two 15-amp circuits are long behind us.

That said, I’d recommend running the welder on a dedicated circuit. Actually, what I’d really recommend is getting a welder that runs on 240 - a typical clothes dryer circuit is 30 amps at 240, and will be able to power as big a welder as you’d ever want to use at home. If you have to hire someone to run a circuit, it’s probably not going to be wildly more expensive to run 30 amp 240 that it would be for 20 amp 120.

To summarize what others have said, the circuit will need (at a minimum):

  1. 20 A circuit breaker at the panel. Just look at the breaker for that circuit… the maximum current rating will be written on the handle.

  2. 12 gauge wire running between the panel and the receptacle. To verify this, shut off the breaker, pull out the receptacle, and inspect the wires going to the receptacle - they will probably be either 12 or 14 gauge. Make sure they’re 12 gauge. If you’re not sure what size they are, use a wire stripping tool as a gage, or compare the wire diameter to some known wire you have on hand. (Note that the wires might be 10 gauge if it’s a 20 A circuit with a *very *long run, which would be O.K. But chances are they’re either 12 or 14 gauge.)

  3. Receptacle rated for 20 A. Make sure one of the slots looks like a sideways “T”. See the receptacles in this photo; it should look like the middle one or right one. If it looks like the receptacle on the left, then it won’t work since it’s a 15 A receptacle. In this case you can install a 20 A receptacle, but make *sure *12 gauge wire is running between the panel and the receptacle (#2 above), and make *sure *there is a 20 A circuit breaker at the panel (#1 above).

Typical house circuits are 15 or 20 amps. You of course should just check you breaker box before the purchase.

And make sure the circuit you use isn’t on an arc-fault breaker. I’ve seen that cause more than one home welder some confusion.

I already have a stick welder that runs on 220, but I haven’t had an outlet installed for that yet. FWIW, my home was built in 2001 by Ryland.



Read everything you can about the welder you are looking at. When I decided to buy mine, I thought a 120V would fit the bill. I was unable to find anyone who bought one and wasn’t unhappy with its capabilities.

I ended up with a Lincoln WeldPak 155 (240V). I think it cost about $100. more. I rigged up an extension cable which allows me to plug it into a dryer outlet so no additional wiring required. :slight_smile:

Living room and bedroom outlets on a switch are considered light circuits thus on a 15 amp circuit. Any unswitched outlets are considered power outlets and on 20 Amp circuits.