15 Amp or 20 Amp GFCI in Bathroom

When it comes to electrical safety in the bathroom, there are certain regulations and guidelines that need to be followed. One of the most crucial aspects is the installation of Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets. These outlets are designed to protect you from electrical shocks by immediately cutting off the power supply when it detects a ground fault.

However, there is a common dilemma among homeowners regarding whether to install a 15 amp or 20 amp GFCI outlet in their bathrooms. In this article, we will explore the differences between these two options and help you make an informed decision.

Understanding GFCI Outlets

Before we delve into the choice of amperage, let’s gain a better understanding of GFCI outlets and their importance in bathroom safety. GFCI outlets are special types of electrical receptacles that offer an extra layer of protection against electrical hazards. These outlets have built-in sensors that quickly detect any imbalance in the flow of electrical current. If the GFCI senses even the slightest electrical leakage, it automatically shuts off the power to prevent potential electric shocks.

Differences Between 15 Amp and 20 Amp GFCI Outlets


The primary difference between a 15 amp and 20 amp GFCI outlet lies in their amperage rating. A 15 amp outlet is capable of handling a maximum current of 15 amps, while a 20 amp outlet can handle up to 20 amps. This means that a 20 amp outlet has a higher capacity to handle larger electrical loads compared to its 15 amp counterpart.

Wiring Size

Given their different amperage ratings, it is essential to consider the wiring size required for each type of GFCI outlet. A 15 amp outlet typically requires a 14-gauge wire, whereas a 20 amp outlet requires a larger 12-gauge wire. It is crucial to use the correct wiring size to ensure appropriate electrical capacity and prevent the risk of overheating or electrical fires.

Electrical Devices and Power Consumption

Another factor to consider while choosing between a 15 amp and 20 amp GFCI outlet is the electrical devices you typically use in your bathroom and their power consumption. If you mainly use low-power devices such as hairdryers, electric toothbrushes, or electric shavers, a 15 amp outlet should be sufficient. However, if you plan to use high-power devices like hair straighteners or whirlpool tubs, a 20 amp outlet would be more suitable to handle the increased load.

Code Requirements

When it comes to electrical installations, it is essential to adhere to local electrical codes and regulations. These codes ensure the safety and functionality of electrical systems. Different regions may have varying requirements regarding GFCI outlet installation in bathrooms. It is crucial to consult with a licensed electrician or refer to the local electrical code to determine the specific amperage requirements in your area.

Future Proofing

While considering the choice between a 15 amp and 20 amp GFCI outlet, it is often wise to think ahead and consider your future needs. If you plan to remodel your bathroom or upgrade your electrical devices in the future, opting for a 20 amp outlet can provide the necessary capacity to accommodate any potential power requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I replace a 15 amp outlet with a 20 amp GFCI outlet?

Yes, it is possible to replace a 15 amp outlet with a 20 amp GFCI outlet. However, keep in mind that the wiring size must also be upgraded to a 12-gauge wire to match the higher amperage capacity of the outlet.

Can I use a 15 amp GFCI outlet if I have high-power devices in my bathroom?

It is generally discouraged to use a 15 amp GFCI outlet for high-power devices. These devices may exceed the maximum rating of the outlet, leading to overheating, tripping of the GFCI, or even electrical hazards. It is advisable to install a 20 amp GFCI outlet for added safety.

Should I hire a professional electrician to install a GFCI outlet in my bathroom?

While it is possible to install a GFCI outlet yourself, it is highly recommended to hire a professional electrician. They have the knowledge, expertise, and tools to ensure a safe and code-compliant installation.

Can I install multiple GFCI outlets in the same bathroom?

Yes, it is possible to install multiple GFCI outlets in the same bathroom. However, it is essential to connect them correctly to avoid false tripping and unnecessary power disruptions.

Are there any alternatives to GFCI outlets for bathroom safety?

GFCI outlets are the most recommended option for bathroom safety due to their ability to quickly detect ground faults and cut off power. However, there are alternative options, such as GFCI circuit breakers, which can provide similar protection for the entire circuit instead of just a single outlet.


When it comes to choosing between a 15 amp or 20 amp GFCI outlet in the bathroom, it is important to consider factors such as amperage, wiring size, electrical device requirements, local code requirements, and future needs. Both options offer excellent protection against electrical hazards, but the appropriate choice depends on your specific requirements and the electrical load you anticipate.

It is always advisable to consult with a licensed electrician to ensure a safe and compliant installation. By making an informed decision, you can enhance the electrical safety of your bathroom and provide peace of mind for yourself and your family.

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