When using non-metallic cables and faced with a 14 AWG and a 16 gauge wire, you might be unsure if you can connect them in your home.
You have to know what makes them different from each other before proceeding with the connection or not.
A 14-gauge wire has an amperage of 15 amps, while a 16-gauge wire has an amperage of 13 amps. So, it would be best to find out if you can connect these two different cables.
You cannot connect 14 gauge wire to 16 gauge wire without changing the amperage rating of the wire. Both are considered low-voltage wires and can only handle up to 15 amps before they overheat and cause a fire hazard. In addition, they have different amperage, so you’re underworking one or overusing the other, which can cause damage.
Can You Run 14 and 16 Gauge Wire Together?
Running a 14 and 16-gauge wire together is possible, but it isn’t advisable. If you do decide to run it together, there are some factors that you need to keep in mind; for example, the thicker the wire, the more current it can carry.
That means if a 14 gauge and a 16 gauge wire have the same amount of current flowing through them, the 14 gauge wire will heat up more than the 16 gauge wire.
That doesn’t mean you can never use these two types of wires together. If you have a low current, say around 20 amps or less, it is possible to run both wires together.
The amount of current flowing through them will depend on how far apart you use them.
For example, if one wire has more resistance than another further down in your setup, more current will flow through it and make it hotter than other parts.
Generally, you can use these two wires together as long as they don’t carry much current.
The more current flowing through your system, whether in one or multiple wires, and whether it’s an even amount, will determine how hot each part gets.
To avoid burns and other dangers associated with high temperatures, keep these factors in mind when using both types of wires. If you need to carry higher amounts of current, use only 14 gauge wire.
Pros and Cons of Running a 14 and 16 Gauge Wire Together?
Although it isn’t advisable to run both wires together, it isn’t impossible. Now that we can connect them let’s look into the pros and cons of running both wire gauges together in the table below.
|Running the wires together provides more flexibility in the future if you need to add or remove any wires.||Running these wires together reduces the efficiency of the cable.|
|Using both sizes of wire may also help reduce costs.||The ratings are for different maximum load capacities, so combining them may result in overheating of the wire.|
|Running the 14 and 16-gauge wires together will create a more robust electrical current.||You lose more power when using both wires, leading to higher utility bills.|
|It will make your wiring system more organized and tidy.||Running a 14 and 16-gauge wire together can cause problems that can result in a fire outbreak. For example, you accidentally plug your small-gauge extension cord into an outlet with a large-gauge wire.|
|If one type of wire is out of stock, you’ll still be able to find the other type and use it instead.||The current carrying capacity of the smaller wire will be lower, so if you overload it, you can damage the wire.|
Can You Mix Wire Sizes in a Circuit?
You can mix different types and sizes of wires in a circuit as long as they all have the same voltage.
However, it is often necessary to do so when connecting electrical devices. So, 14-gauge wire is thicker than 16-gauge wire; thus, as the gauge number gets smaller, the thicker the wire.
When connecting wires of different gauges, always connect the thicker wire to the device first and then connect the thinner wire to that.
If your device has a circuit breaker, consult it before connecting new wires to ensure they’re not too thin.
Though you can mix different types and sizes of wires in a circuit, it is usually better not to. The smaller number on your wire denotes its thickness, so 14-gauge is thicker than 16-gauge.
The thicker your wires, the more current they can carry, and when you go outside of a safe range, it can cause damage to your electrical devices.
That isn’t always an issue if all your wires are within a few gauges apart, but using mismatched wires will create too much resistance, preventing electricity from flowing freely through your circuit.
It can cause your device not to work appropriately or even stop working completely!
Can You Combine a 14 Gauge Wire and a 16 Gauge Wire on a 20 Amp Circuit?
Although it is possible to combine both wire gauges, I do not recommend it because the amperage draw will be too high for the 14 gauge wire and could cause it to overheat and potentially start a fire.
Plus, the overall current flowing through the circuit will be greater than the rating of the 20 amp breaker, so it’s a safety hazard.
Both 14 gauge and 16 gauge wires are acceptable for circuits with a 20-amp rating. The difference in size between the two wires is not an issue as long as the total amperage does not exceed 20 amps.
You may, for instance, utilize wires with a 12 gauge and wires with an 18 gauge on the same circuit. Again, the key is ensuring the total amperage does not exceed 20 amps.
If you must use a 14AWG on a 20 amp circuit, ensure it’s rated for the higher current and use larger than required wire nuts or splices.
A 14 gauge wire will heat up faster than the 16 gauge wire, which could cause a fire.
If you have no choice but to use a wire with a 14-gauge diameter on a circuit rated for 20 amps, check to see that it is in good condition and isn’t damaged.
When using these wire gauges combo on a 20 amp circuit, the circuit breaker won’t trip off when the current surpasses the amperage of the cables. But if the amperage of the wires is more than the circuit, it will trip off.
You may have trouble using a heavy-duty extension cord with a 14/16 combo because the manufacturers of these cords designed them for specific wire gauges.
As a result, you’ll probably need heavier than 14/16 wires if you want to use an extension cord.
Can You Mix a 14 Gauge Wire and a 16 Gauge Wire on a 15 Amp Circuit?
Yes, mixing 14 AWG and 16 gauge wires on a circuit for 15 amps is possible, provided the total amperage does not exceed 15 amps.
If you have multiple devices drawing power from the same circuit, calculate the total amperage draw to ensure that you do not overload the circuit.
A wire with a gauge of 14 is more significant than one with a gauge of 16, indicating that the 14 gauge wire has a more significant surface area for electrons to cross.
It means it can carry more electricity than a smaller cable. However, if you use two cables of different gauges on one circuit and they pull too much current, there is a potential for overheating or even fire.
It is best practice to ensure that your total load does not exceed 80% of your circuit’s amperage limit.
If you have a light load that doesn’t require much amperage, you may get away with it. However, if you have a heavy load that requires more amperage, then it’s not recommended.
Although it is possible to mix both wire gauges, it isn’t the most efficient way to do things.
That is because the difference in size between the two wires means that the current will have to travel through the smaller (14 gauge) wire more slowly, which could cause problems down the line.
Plus, it’s always better to err on caution when it comes to electrical work.
My final thoughts on connecting both 14 gauge wire and 16 gauge wire are that although you can do it, it isn’t something I’d recommend you do.
They both have different amperage and are suited for different purposes, so connecting them can reduce the efficiency of the cable, underworking or overusing the other, potentially resulting in a fire hazard.