Wire gauges: all about the various sizes and their uses - knoweasy

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Wire gauges: all about the various sizes and their uses

September 29, 2022

For every electrical need in your home, it is essential to install cables that pass electrical checks. These cables will ensure that electrical connections transmit power safely. Maintaining high quality in the selection process will ensure a competent circuit system throughout your home.


Wires and cables

Usually, wires and cables are the same, the only difference being that wires are electrical conductors and cables are a set of conductors enclosed in a protective cover. There are regulations on which wires and cables are suitable for specific electrical applications and their precise installation methods.


How are wires sized and what are wire sizes?


While different wires have specific uses, knowing the correct wire size (also known as gauge) will help you electrically. Measurements are taken to determine the amount of electrical flow that can safely pass through the wire without causing damage. In addition to this, each wire gauge size has a safe current carrying capacity, which is a measure of the current flow.


What is a wire gauge?


A wire gauge is a physical size and current-carrying capacity of a wire. It is given a fixed numerical name that is inversely proportional to the diameter of the conductor. In simple terms, the smaller the wire gauge number, the larger the diameter. It is vital to know the size of the cable to ensure that it safely carries the right amount of current. The gauge class also determines the resistance of the wire and its weight per unit length.


Is it "Gauge" or "AWG"?


Gauge and AWG are ideally the same. The AWG measurement does not take into account the insulation of the conductor; the higher the AWG number, the smaller the conductor.


Wire gauge diagram


American Wire Gauge (AWG) standards range from 0000 (which can handle up to 302 amps) to 40 (which can handle up to 0.0137 amps). Most domestic and commercial wiring requirements range from 2 (up to 95 amps) or 3 (up to 85 amps) to 14 (up to 15 amps). View the table below for a table of AWG wire sizes


Common AWG Gauge Sizes


Wire gauges are available in a set of standard sizes depending on the amount of current you want it to carry and what it will be used for. Common AWG gauge sizes are.

  • 14 gauge wire.
  • 12 gauge.
  • 10 gauge.
  • 8 gauge.
  • Wire 6.
  • Line 2.


The importance of wire gauge


Given that the gauge of a cable indicates the thickness of the conductor carrying the flow of electrons, the conductor must also suppress resistance and support improved transmission.

Understanding wire gauge allows industry professionals and homeowners to quickly and easily determine whether it is suitable for a particular application.

Gauges help users understand the current-carrying capacity of solid conductive cables by using the cross-sectional area of the wire as a defining aspect.


Selecting wire sizes


You can determine the gauge based on the following useful pointers assigned according to the rated current carrying capacity of the wire used.

  • 18 gauge for 10 amp low voltage lighting and lamp cords
  • 16 for light extension cords supporting 13 amps
  • 14 gauge for 15 amp lamps, luminaires, lighting circuits
  • 12 gauge for kitchen, bathroom, outdoor outlets and 120-volt air conditioners supporting 20 amps
  • 10 gauge for electric clothes dryers, 240-volt window air conditioners, electric water heaters supporting 30 amps
  • Size 6 for cooker tops and ranges carrying 40-50 amps
  • Size 4 for electric stoves and large electric heaters protected to 60 amps


We hope this guide has helped you to make the appropriate choice. If you need more help, contact D&F Liquidators at 800-458-9600 for high-quality, reliable electrical materials from top brands at competitive prices. They carry a large inventory of power supplies, safety switches and circuit breakers.



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