You just moved into a home or are upgrading it, and then you need to buy some electrical appliances; you discover that the gauge wire used is a 12 gauge wire.
Then you are left wondering if you can connect a 14 gauge wire to it because of its amperage. This article will explain if that is possible, its pros and cons.
In most cases, connecting a 14 gauge to a 12 gauge wire isn’t possible because they have different wire ratings, and connecting them reduces the circuit’s efficiency. But you can connect these two gauges of wire if you make sure your circuit is only 15 amps since a 14 gauge wire can’t work on a 20-amp circuit.
Can You Run 12 and 14 Gauge Wire Together?
Theoretically, you can run any size of wires together as long as the amperage rating is high enough for all wires.
However, doing this is not recommended because the 12 gauge wire will carry more current than the 14 gauge wire so it will heat up more.
That could cause the insulation to break down and cause a fire; therefore, using the same size wire for all projects is better.
You can run 12 and 14-gauge wires together if they are in the same circuit; however, you must use the correct size breakers and fuses.
If you have a mixed circuit, you should use the breaker or fuse size for the largest wire in the circuit. Consult an electrician before attempting any electrical work.
Running a 12 and 14-gauge wire together isn’t what I would recommend, although it can work because a 12-gauge wire rating is 20 amps, and a 14-gauge wire rating is only 15 amps.
So, if you have a circuit drawing more than 15 amps of power, the 14 gauge wire could overheat and cause a fire.
It’s always better to err on the side of caution, so use the same size wire throughout your circuit. The maximum amperage that wires with a 12-gauge gauge may carry is 20 amps.
It is possible to utilize wires with a gauge of 12 on circuits with a capacity of 15 amps; however, I don’t recommend you do that due to the higher price of a bigger wire.
Also, using a 14AWG on a 20-amp circuit isn’t good, although possible due to the wire that melts before the circuit breaker trips.
You can use a breaker or fuse with a lower amperage rating for both circuits in a mixed circuit. Again, you will want to check your electrical code instructions for your area.
As long as each circuit is protected, you should be able to run two wires of different gauges on one cable.
However, if one circuit shuts off due to overheating, that could interrupt power in other parts of your home or business.
Pros and Cons of Running a 14 and 16 Gauge Wire Together?
It is possible to run a 14 and a 16-gauge wire together under some conditions; although it isn’t what I would advise you to do, it is possible.
The table below shows some pros and cons of running both wires together to help you familiarize yourself with the situation.
|Running 14 and 12-gauge wires together can be cost-effective.||A 14-gauge wire is thinner than a 12-gauge wire. So, running them together could cause problems down the line if too much current is flowing through the wires.|
|Using larger gauges allows you to run longer distances with less power loss, saving you money in the long run.||Running these two gauges together means that they will create a very thick and heavy bundle.|
|Most often, running these two gauges prevents overloading.||Because of its smaller diameter, the 14 gauge wire is unable to conduct electricity, as well as the 12 gauge wire.|
|A 14 gauge wire cannot tolerate overloading in a circuit with 20 amps, so it is important not to mix a 12 and 14 gauge in a 20-amp circuit.||When the 12 and 14-gauge wires are in line, they lose some of their current-carrying capacity due to voltage drop.|
Can You Mix 12 and 14 Gauge Wire on a 15 Amp Circuit?
Yes, you can mix and match gauges in a circuit if you don’t exceed the amperage rating.
The breaker or fuse size will determine the amperage rating; for example, if you have a 15 amp breaker, you can use either a 12 or 14-gauge wire on that circuit. The important thing is not to exceed the 15 amp rating.
You can do this because the circuit breaker’s amperage rating determines how much current can flow through the wires, not the gauge of the wires.
The amperage rating of the circuit breaker is 15 amps, the maximum amount of current that can flow through the wires.
The gauge of the wires only determines how much current can flow through them without heating up and causing a fire.
To keep your circuit from becoming overloaded or too hot, you combine wires of gauges 12 and 14.
These wires have different gauges, so when you mix them in the circuit, it helps to distribute the power in it and prevent overloading.
A 15-amp circuit won’t use as much power as two different gauges can handle, so mixing the two types of wire in the circuit is possible.
Mixing gauges is okay, but it’s essential to know that using mixed gauge wires can be a fire hazard if you don’t follow specific rules.
Always follow the National Electrical Code (NEC) rules and regulations when mixing different gauges of wire in a circuit.
Can I Pigtail 12 Gauge Wire to 14 Gauge Wire?
A 12 gauge wire can be pigtailed to a 14 gauge wire. Please note that you can’t use a 14-gauge jumper in a 20-amp circuit, which is the opposite of what you should do.
It could cause that wire part to melt before the circuit breaker goes off. You can pigtail these different wire gauges in a 15 amp circuit as long as you can twist the wires securely.
However, I do not recommend it because the difference in size between the two wires will create a potential fire hazard.
Plus, the smaller wire won’t be able to handle as much current as the larger wire, so your circuit may not work correctly.
If you must use different sizes of wire, use pigtail connectors or splice them together with butt connectors.
Using a Western Union splice, you can pigtail a 12AWG to a 14AWG. To do this, you’ll need to strip the insulation off the ends of each wire using a wire stripper.
Once you’ve done that, twist the bare ends of the wires together clockwise until they’re tight, then screw on the connector.
You can also use a crimping tool if you don’t have Western Union splices. To do so, strip off about two inches of insulation from each end of both wires and tuck them into the crimping tool.
Next, slide down, release your thumb, and finish by sliding up to ensure all strands are secure inside.
You can test the wires with a voltage tester to ensure they are working correctly. If you can see the voltage, everything is good, and you can plug in your wires! If not, recheck your work.
Is It Okay to Connect Different Gauge Wires?
You can connect different gauge wires, but it’s not what I’d recommend because the lower gauge wire will have a higher resistance.
That means the current flowing through the lower gauge wire will be higher, which could cause it to overheat and potentially start a fire.
So, while you can technically connect different gauge wires, it’s not the safest option.
#1. Benefits of Connecting Wires of Different Gauges
First, the ampacity of the 14-gauge wire is 15 amps, and the ampacity of the 12-gauge wire is 20 amps. So, technically, you are putting more load on the 14-gauge wire than it can handle.
However, this will not be an issue in most cases because the wires will not carry the full load of 15 amps for very long.
You can connect different gauge wires for a variety of reasons. For example, connecting a 14 gauge to a 12 gauge wire can give you more flexibility regarding the current flow through the circuit.
Also, it can boost voltage, which might be necessary for specific applications.
#2. Drawbacks to Connecting Wires of Different Gauges
The amperage rating is how much current the wire can carry without overheating, getting too hot, and potentially starting a fire. A higher amperage rating means that a wire can carry more current.
So, if you have a 14-gauge wire and a 12-gauge wire connected, the 14-gauge wire will carry more current than it’s rated for and could overheat.
However, you may have a problem, and that is if you are using an extension cord with multiple wires running through it.
That is because the larger-gauge wires (14-gauge) will cause more resistance in an extension cord than a smaller-gauge wire.
Connecting different wire gauges can cause problems with voltage drop because the 14-gauge wire has higher resistance than the 12-gauge wire.
That means there will be less current flowing through the 14-gauge wire and more current flowing through the 12-gauge wire.
Even if you don’t intend to connect different wire gauges, it is essential to know how different thicknesses affect an appliance’s current.
Generally, a thicker wire can transfer more energy with less resistance than a thinner one. If you use a thin wire for a high-draw appliance, it will quickly overheat and fail.
My final thoughts on connecting a 14 to a 12 gauge wire are that it’s possible, although I wouldn’t recommend it because they do not have the same amp rating.
Doing so has its drawbacks and can potentially result in overheating or fire. If you wish to do so, ensure your circuit is 15-amps and you connect it properly.