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14-2 Vs. 14-3 Wire (In-Depth Comparison)

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Last updated on August 14th, 2022 at 01:25 pm

There are different varieties of wires to purchase when it comes to wiring in your home.

With the available 14-2 and 14-3 wires in the market, you can easily make your choice as they harbor unique features that make them stand out among other wires. 

The 14-2 wire has one hot wire(black), one neutral wire(white), and one ground wire(green). The 14-3 wire contains two hot wires(red and black), one neutral wire(white), and one ground wire(green). 

What Are the Differences Between 14-2 and 14-3 Wires?

14-2 vs. 14-3 Wire

14-2 is a non-metallic sheathed cable with two wires/conductors that transport electricity from the power source.

The inner wires consist of one hot black wire, one neutral white wire, and a ground green wire(bare copper wire). These wires have different functions that enable proper power circulation.

14-2 Wire

#1. Hot black wire:

This hot wire often transmits electricity from the power source to the main switch in a conventional 3-way structure. The black wire is often hot unless you turn off the circuit breaker.

#2. Neutral white wire:

This neutral wire always completes the electrical circuit by ensuring electricity returns to the power source. 

#3. Ground green wire:

The ground wire is a bare copper wire that provides safety from electric shock. Plus, it transfers excess electricity to the ground when the circuit malfunctions. 

On the other hand, the 14-3 wire often serves as an indoor electrical wire suitable for home wiring.

14-3 wire contains three inner wires/conductors and a ground wire, which serve different functions. Below are the functions. 

14-3 Wire

#1. Hot black wire:

This wire is hot and serves as a traveler wire in a 3-switch structure (along with the red wire). The reason is that electricity travels through the red and black wires from the first switch box to the other. 

#2. Hot red wire:

The red wire is the second hot/traveler wire, performing the same function as the black wire. When the light is on, the black or red wire will be hot as both can not be hot simultaneously.

However, this depends on the toggle switch configuration. 

#3. Neutral white wire:

The primary function of the white wire is to transmit electricity back to the power source to complete the circuit.

Ground green wire: The main purpose of the ground wire is to carry extra power to the ground in case of a fault.

What Are the Costs of the 14-2 And 14-3 Wires? 

Southwire 55043321 300 Volt 25-Feet 14-Gauge 3 Conductor 14/3 Quantum TPE SJEOOW Portable Flexible Power Cord, Black

The costs of the 14-2 and 14-3 wires vary depending on the number of wires you need. For example, the 14-2 wire costs $0.52 per foot, while the 14-3 wire costs $1.57 per foot.

Therefore, you need to multiply the main cost and quantity to get the right wire cost for a particular quantity. Let me explain further. 

For instance, if you want to purchase 250ft of 14-3 wire, you need to multiply 250ft and $1.57.

That is, 250ft×$1.57 will give you $392.5; in other words, you need $392.5 to purchase 250ft of 14-3 wire.

And you can apply the same principle to the 14-2 wire to get the right amount to purchase the wire. 

However, the price for these two wires varies depending on your location. Therefore, you can purchase them at a lower price in some shops and at a higher price in others.

Nevertheless, you must always look for a few factors when purchasing the 14-2 and 14-3 wires. 

#1. Quality:

This factor is of paramount importance, and you must always consider the wires’ quality before purchasing them.

Please make sure you purchase them from a trustworthy dealer or shop and ensure they are high quality. 

#2. Compatibility:

Always make sure that the wires are compatible with the circuits. Since the 14-2 and 14-3 both fall under the 14 gauge wire, they are only compatible with 120-volt circuits.

So, avoiding utilizing them for 250-volt circuits is advisable as it might cause a fire. 

What Are the Uses of the 14-2 and 14-3 Wires? 

Southwire 28827423 100' 14/2 with ground Romex brand SIMpull residential indoor electrical wire type NM-B, White

The 14-2 and 14-3 are both non-metallic sheathed cables that serve different purposes when it comes to wiring.

Although they share a few similarities, they have some features that distinguish them from one another.

So now, what are the uses of the 14-2 wire? Let’s find out below. 

  • You can use the 14-2 wire for lights on 15-amp circuits. In addition, homeowners often use the wire to power light fixtures that need low amperage.
  • Homeowners use the 14-2 wire for outdoor outlets on 15-amp circuits. 
  • You can utilize the 14-2 wire to power about 6-8 receptacles on 15-amp circuits
  • You can use the 14-2 wire to power your fridge and dishwasher as long as it’s on 15-amp circuits. 

Let’s look at some of the uses of the 14-3 wire without further ado. 

  • You can utilize the 14-3 wire for wiring lights in your hallway, bedroom, attic, kitchen, and living room as long as they are on 15-amp circuits. You can also use the wire to power light fixtures that require low amperage.  
  • You can use 14-3 wires to outdoor power outlets on 15-amp circuits. 
  • You can also use it to supply electricity to many household appliances on 15-amp circuits. These appliances include refrigerators, dryers, ceiling fans, and many more. 

You can use the 14-2 and 14-3 wires to supply electricity to the switches in your home. You can use the 14-3 wire in a 3-switch setup.

This action enables you to power three switches from different places in your home. Let me break it down to bits. 

For instance, if you fix four bulbs in your living room, you don’t need to depend on one switch to turn it on.

Instead, you can fix three switches in different locations in your home to turn on the bulbs.

The same principle also applies to the 14-2 wire. The downside is that you can only access two switches to activate the bulbs. 

What Is the NEC Limit of 14-2 and 14-3 Wires? 

The National Electrical Code (NEC) limit of the 14-2 and 14-3 wires is 15-20 amps at 120 volts. The NEC limit comes standard on all wires and helps homeowners not exceed the wires’ capacity.

Many household circuits offer 15-20 amps at 120 volts, making it suitable for 14-2 and 14-3 wires. 

Nonetheless, most homeowners have some high-capacity appliance circuits that run at 240 volts and 30-40 amps.

Some appliances that use 240-volt circuits include ovens, microwaves, electric iron, and television. In this case, the 14-2 and 14-3 wires are incompatible with these appliances. 

If you decide to use the wires for 240-volt circuits, you might cause a fire that might get out of control. In the worst-case scenario, the fire might burn the whole house.

So, it’s best to use the 14-2 and 14-3 wires for 15 amps at 120 volts. Although you can settle for 20 amps, it’s not 100% reliable as the electricity might not be stable. 

To calculate the number of Watts you can load onto your 14 gauge wire, you need to use the formula; Watts=Volts×Amps. Watts=120×15 or 120×20, which will give you 1,800 Watts and 2,400 Watts, respectively. 

Final Thoughts 

The 14-2 and 14-3 wires fall under the 14 gauge wire, which offers a maximum of 15-20 amps at 120 volts.

Hence, it’s best to check their compatibility with your appliance circuits and know their NEC limit before purchasing them.

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