Why Does the Hair Dryer Trip Circuit Breaker?

Posted on: March 17th, 2013 by Glen 17 Comments

A very common service call is that the fuse blows or the circuit breaker trips when they use their hair dryer. So why does the hair dryer cause a short in the wire or other power problem?

Hair dryers of early '70's were only 750 watts (about 6 amps). Then in the '80's they started upgraded them to 1000 watts (8 amps), 1250 watts (10 amps) and then 1500 watts (12 amps).In the mid '90's they got even more powerful with 1875 watts (15 amp).

Most homes built before the late 1990's only of have a 15 amp power circuit feeding the lights and outlets in several bedrooms and the bathroom. The newer hair dryers are rated at 1875 watts at 125 volt which equal 15 amps of current draw. The newer 15 amp hair dryer simply maxed out the existing 15 amp circuit wiring. The fuse or circuit breaker was sized to protect the wiring from an electrical overload and / or possible fire hazard.

Solutions to Breaker Tripping

There are several solutions to your circuit tripping when using your blow dryer. One is getting a smaller wattage hair dryer to draw less power. Turning off all the other electrical loads and lights on the that circuit when drying your hair is another solution. If these free solutions do not work you can have the electrician wire a new 20 amp circuit to the area that is used to style hair. You can not install a bigger fuse or breaker on the 15 amp wiring as it may result in a electrical fire hazard.

Many homes built after 2000 have a 20 amp circuit supplying power for the bathroom outlets to reduce the hair dryer over load problem. The solutions listed should solve the overloading of the bathroom outlet circuit for using one item. However, you will still only be able to use your 1875 watt hairdryer and1875 watt curling iron one at a time.

17 Responses

  1. linda

    August 7, 2013

    my house was built in the 80′s so I have 15 amp circuit lines. Question, if 2 ladies are using a blow dryer at the same time in 2 different bathrooms with lights on, will circuit breaker trip?

    Reply
    • William

      December 22, 2015

      It depends if the two hair driers are on the same ‘branch’ or not. You’ll notice in your circuit breaker box that there are a dozen or more separate breaker switches. That is because — electrically speaking — your house is divided into various branches, and each branch gets 15 amps (for the purposes of this discussion). It is not always obvious/clear how the designer laid out the branches. Usually the original electrician was careful to label the breakers but not always. Your two hair dryers may be OK if they are in different bathrooms (different branches) — both in the same bathroom at the same time is not likely to work. There’s only nuisance, not harm, in throwing a breaker, so experimentation may be required.

      Reply
  2. Glen

    August 19, 2013

    Newer 1875 watt hair dryers use about 15 amps of power. Even a newer home with a 20 amp bathroom outlet circuit, you cant use 2 hair dryers at the same time. It’s simple math 15amp & 15amp = 30amp which is more than the 20 amp circuit can handle safely.

    Reply
  3. Sarah

    March 10, 2014

    I just moved into a new apartment and my hair dryer trips the breaker for my bathroom, but not every day. When it trips, I have my bathroom light on, the hair dryer has been running for maybe two minutes and I have an electric toothbrush plugged in, charging. My hair dryer is 1875 watt and I believe the breaker is a 20 amp (if that’s what the number on the breaker means). I’ve used this hair dryer at a previous apartment with no problem and it’s fairly new and I keep it clean. The maintenance man supposedly replaced the breaker and it’s still tripping. The thing I don’t get is why it doesn’t trip every time. Any thoughts? I don’t want my apartment to burn down. For now, I’ll try turning the lights off while I dry my hair to see if that stops the tripping.

    Reply
    • Glen

      March 10, 2014

      Circuit breaker normally trip when they are overloaded. 1875 watt hair dryer is about a 17 amp load. If other lights or outlets are on the same circuit it probable being overloaded.

      Reply
  4. Sarah

    March 12, 2014

    So today I unplugged the electric toothbrush and shut off the light. Only thing running was the hair dryer and it still tripped the breaker. Could it be the outlet? Or do you think the whole circuit is bad? Like I said, it doesn’t happen every time, but it’s annoying. And the apartment complex acts like I’m an idiot. You can’t tell me no one else is using a hair dryer in their one bedroom apartment here… Should I hire an electrician on my own?

    Reply
  5. glen

    March 12, 2014

    I can’t answer your question without looking at it or testing the circuit myself. I guessing that the hair drying is overloading the circuit. I’m assuming the the light and outlet are on the same circuit. Most general lighting outlet circuits are 15 amps. When the breaker trip what other outlets and light quit working?

    Reply
    • Sarah

      March 12, 2014

      The only things on that circuit are the light, outlet and exhaust fan in the bathroom. I’ve checked everything else when the breaker is flipped.

      Reply
  6. Diy Home Improvement: Why Does My Circuit Breaker Keep Tripping For A Lighting Circuit?. Does, Why, Lighting. ~ diy-home-improvement.vwx.info

    November 10, 2015

    […] breaker, A common service call fuse blows circuit breaker trips hair dryer. hair dryer short wire . Why Does the Hair Dryer Trip Circuit Breaker …Electrical – causing circuit breaker trip, One circuit breaker trips instantly. reset trips […]

    Reply
  7. Bonnie

    November 17, 2015

    Change of subject. What causes my low voltage outdoor lights to randomly go off and then back on, then off and on again? This happens continually. Its really bad because we have our US Flag lighted, but at times the light is off.

    Reply
    • Glen

      November 17, 2015

      With out testing it, I can only guess at it. The low voltage transformer might be over loaded causing the thermal overload to cycle on and off. May be there is a loose connection in the low voltage wiring or the light socket. Could be a loose connection on the 120 volt outlet circuit.

      Reply
  8. Holly

    December 1, 2015

    the circuit upstairs has tripped 3 times in one month when i used my hair dryer. the only other things on upstairs were our bedroom light and fan. And the circuit actually tripped twice in a 15 minute span. Could this be more of bad wiring?

    Reply
    • Glen

      December 7, 2015

      Are you using 1875 watt hair dryer? If so, it uses about 15 amps of power. What the ampere rating of the circuit breaker ( should have 15 or 20 on the handle of the breaker). Guess your overloading the circuit. Have a new 20 amp circuit ran to the bathroom or get a lower wattage hair dryer.

      Reply
  9. Jen

    January 21, 2016

    My hair dryer just blew up this morning while I was using it and now none of the outlets work in my bathroom. Is it the circuit breaker or do I need new outlet boxes?

    Reply
    • Glen

      January 21, 2016

      I would guess the circuit breaker probably tripped or the GFI outlet in one the of the bathrooms need to be reset. It may be as simple as resetting the breaker or GFI outlet. unplug the hair dry and check your circuit breakers. If the circuit is tripped, push the circuit breaker handle all the way to the off position and then back to the on position. Also check if the GFI outlet is tripped. GFI outlets have a test and reset button, try resetting it. You have to call a local electrician to check for another problem.

      Reply
  10. Lisa

    January 22, 2016

    We bought a house built in 1980 and remodeled the bathrooms in Feb. 2015. Both bathrooms are on the same 15 amp circuit. For nine months I was able to dry my hair fine and then in November, it tripped. The guys that remodeled our bathrooms said that the wires in the outlet were a little loose so they tightened them. That worked for a month and it tripped again last week. We had a licensed electrician come out and tell us that we need a new 20 amp circuit for about $2100. However, I made him check the outlets and again the wires were loose and needed to be tightened. I said, “How could it work for nine months without tripping and suddenly start tripping now?” He didn’t have an answer but I keep thinking it’s the outlet thought I am at the maximum on the 1875 watt hair dryer.

    Reply
    • Glen

      January 24, 2016

      one 1875 watt dryer is pushing the limits of a 15 amp circuit. Maybe the copper wiring is getting too hot and it’s expanding and then contracting when it cools off, causing the wires to loosen. Maybe the air flow is blocked in hair dryer causing to run hot. have someone test the circuit ampere draw, try a smaller hair dryer or have the 20 amp circuit installed

      Reply

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