Why Does the Hair Dryer Trip Circuit Breaker?

Posted on: March 17th, 2013 by Glen 7 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.

7 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
  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

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