I've found that in the USA, a 15 ampere breaker will carry a 2000 watt fixture without tripping, most of the time. One of the first things to do on location, is locate the breaker panel or panels and make certain that you have access (covers unlocked). Access the available power (size in amps of the panel, single or 3 phase). The voltage available will dictate what lighting fixtures can be used. If the panel is 120/208v or 120/277v, a 6k HMI isn't going to strike if the ballast reguires a 220 volt input (or be damaged on 277 volts). A mistake like that, can make for a very bad first day of shooting.
I don't agree with most of the advice on this thread.
American residential homes generally have 15 amp breakers. One may find 20 amp breakers once and a while but 20 amp breakers are more commercial in nature.
One has to read the breakers in the breaker box at the location to be sure. It is the only way. Typically that is done during the tech scout.
A 15 amp breaker may be able to hold a 2000 watt fixture but don't count on it. If you absolutely need it, one had better find a 20 amp power source to be sure. A 20 amp light draws 16.4 amps.
A specific question for JD:
JD, Where have you run into a 120/277 volt electrical system? Having been a film eelctrician for almost 20 years, I have never seen that. I'm not criticising. I'm just curious.
Building a distro box that plugs into a dryer or range outlet is a good gambit - but if you're not electrically knowledgeable let a real gaffer or electician build it for you.
Personally, I do think this is a great idea for low budget filmmakers. In fact I did it myself when I was in film school. An older film student knowledgable about electriciity and who already had some professional experience built it for me.
It worked like a charm.
I agree that some 220 volt 50 amp plugs may not have a neutral, there are some that do. If it does, one is good to go.
The only improvement I would make is to install 20 amp breakers in each edison breakout for safety.