How to Increase Amperage in an Electrical Circuit

Amperage, measured in amperes or amps, refers to the rate at which electricity moves through wires in an electrical circuit. In an AC electrical circuit, the size of the wires and the other electrical conductors determine the rate or amperage at which electric current can safely flow through the circuit. The capacity of a load or appliance to consume electricity is used as the basis for choosing the ampere rating of wires and other electrical components to be installed in a circuit. Increasing the amperage in an electrical circuit means replacing the circuit breaker, wires, outlets or other electrical components with a higher ampere rating.

The size of electrical wires must match the amperage of all components in an electrical circuit.

Step 1

Locate the circuit breaker supplying power to the circuit that you wish to replace with a higher ampere rating by looking at the circuit information sheet attached to the back of the panel door. Flip the breaker switch to its "Off" position and note the location or position of the breaker.

Step 2

Turn on your working light and open the electrical panel in your home. Turn off each circuit breaker on the panel by flipping the switch on top of each breaker to its "Off" position. Locate the main circuit breaker and flip its switch to the "Off" position. The main breaker has the highest ampere rating and is usually located in the uppermost position.

Step 3

Loosen the terminal screw at the outer end of the breaker you wish to replace, pull out the black wire attached to it and bend the wire away from the breaker. Pry off the circuit breaker with a flat-head screwdriver and pull out the breaker to remove it from the panel.

Step 4

Unscrew the faceplate of each outlet wired to the circuit breaker. Pull the faceplate gently away from the outlet box to expose the wire terminals. Loosen each terminal screw with a screwdriver, disconnect the attached wires and remove the faceplate. Trace the wires from the outlet box to locate the junction box through which the wires. Unscrew the junction box cover with a screwdriver. Cut the spliced wires (black, white, green) running from the outlet box into the junction box with diagonal pliers. Pull the cut black, white and green wires out of the junction box to remove them.

Step 5

Go to your local hardware store and buy the replacement wires, circuit breaker and outlets that have a higher amperage rating, but make sure that all wires and electrical components of the circuit have the same amperage. Use the following guide to determine wire size based on amperage: gauge 12 AWG wire for 20 amperes, gauge 10 AWG wire for 30 amperes, gauge 6 AWG for 60 to 70 amperes, and gauge 4 AWG wire for 100 amperes.

Step 6

Cut the black, white and green wires into the same length as the ones you removed. Run each wire from the junction box to the outlet box, and from the junction box to the circuit breaker inside the electrical panel. Strip off 1/2 an inch from the tip of each wire at both ends, using a wire stripper. Match the color-coded wires inside the junction box into pairs, and twist each matching pair to intertwine them, using regular pliers. Screw wire nuts onto each spliced wire in the junction box.

Step 7

Plug the new circuit breaker (with higher amperage) into the slot left open when you removed the old circuit breaker. Flip the breaker switch to its "Off" position, and loosen the terminal screws at the outer end of the breaker, using a screwdriver.

Step 8

Look at the conduit pipe opening on top of the breaker inside the panel and pull the black, green and white wires running from the junction. Divert the black wire to the new circuit breaker, divert the white wire to the neutral bar (containing white wires), and divert the green wire to the ground bar (containing green or bare wires).

Step 9

Insert the stripped end of the black wire into the slot at the base of the terminal screw on the new circuit breaker. Insert the stripped end of the white wire into a vacant terminal on the neutral bar, and insert the green wire into a vacant terminal on the ground bar. Tighten each terminal screw firmly to secure the connections.

Step 10

Pull the wires out of the electrical outlet box on your wall. Strip off 1/2 an inch of insulation from the tip of each wire with a wire stripper. Hook the tip of the black wire clockwise around the brass terminal screw on the new outlet, hook the tip of the white wire clockwise around the silver terminal screw, and hook the green or bare wire clockwise around the green terminal screw. Tighten each screw to secure each connection, and wrap electrical tape thrice around the sides of the outlet. Mount the outlet onto the outlet box, using screws supplied with the outlet.

Step 11

Reattach the cover of the electrical panel, flip the main circuit breaker switch to its "On" position, and flip the switch of each individual breaker to its "On" position. Plug an appliance into the new outlet and turn on the appliance to test the upgraded circuit.