Last updated on August 14th, 2022 at 01:27 pm
Your home’s wiring should be done with utmost care as it is a major cause of electrical accidents in homes.
Wires should never be overloaded, which is why you should not fix too many outlets beyond the capacity of your wires and the circuit breaker. So, what is the ideal or safe number of outlets for gauge wires?
A 14 gauge wire can accommodate twelve (12) outlets. The wire gauge also follows the 80 percent total usage meted out for any circuit breaker by the National Electrical Code (NEC). So, on a 15 amp circuit, a 14 gauge wire will roughly carry one (1) gauge of wire per outlet as the least thick wire used in homes.
How Far Can You Run A 14 Gauge Wire?
Since a 14 gauge wire is used specifically for a 15 amp breaker and 120 volts, you can move it up to 50 feet, about 34 cm. And while running up your wire, you should preserve at least a three (3) percent voltage. Doing this will lighten the load on your wire and the circuit breaker.
Also, it helps in protecting you from electric shocks and other electric accidents in the house. That is why the voltage drop issue while running the wire is very relevant.
The different ways to lower voltage to avoid any problem is by;
- Using a bigger wire or more wires
- Make sure the load on your circuit is limited
- Shorten the length of your wires
- Maintain a low wire temperature
#1. Using a bigger wire or more wires
You should use a bigger wire to promote efficiency rather than a small-sized wire. Bigger wires are more suitable for parallel connection, and as you know, parallel connections are more employed than series connections. Its efficiency usually helps preserve voltages.
#2. Make sure the load on your circuit is limited
In all areas of electricity, overloading is highly discouraged. So to help preserve some voltage, you should reduce the number of appliances connected to your outlets.
You can achieve this by using different circuits for certain areas so that the electric current rate does not exceed 80 percent.
#3. Shorten the length of your wires
As mentioned above, it is better to use a bigger wire to promote its efficiency. However, using an extended length of wire will only increase its resistance which is not suitable for the voltage.
So, you should adjust the connection of your conductors to fit a short and big wire.
#4. Maintain a low wire temperature
The temperature of wires needs to be kept cool and stable. It is a key factor that influences the voltage of your wires, and other factors revolve around it as well.
If the temperature of a wire is kept low, you would have brought the issue of overloading to a minimum.
Always consider that voltage drop is the main reason we should know how far we can run a wire.
And as aforementioned, you can only run a wire up to 50 feet and nothing further. So anything beyond this becomes a threat in your home.
Can I Use A 20 Amps Circuit Breaker For A 14 Gauge Wire?
You can not use a 20 amp circuit breaker for a 14 gauge wire. This is because a 20 amp breaker requires a wire containing voltage drop issue the current it releases. And, a wire that does not live up to this requirement will only induce a fire outbreak.
It is the easiest way to get yourself in trouble with electricity. What makes wires compatible with circuits is their gauge which indicates their size.
The amount of current emitted from a 20 amp circuit breaker is very different from a circuit breaker of 15 amps. So you should not expect them to support the same types of electrical wires.
A 14 gauge wire could induce fire not because the wire is of low quality or bad in any way. The structure of a 14 gauge wire is not designed to bear the amount of current supplied by the 20 amp circuit breaker.
When using a 14 gauge wire on a 20 amp circuit, the wire will be overloaded with too much current and burn.
It will also extend to your outlets and the appliances you connect to them, damaging them. It is likely to result in a fire outbreak, an incident you would rather avoid.
So, for a 20 amp circuit breaker, it is best to use a 12 gauge wire or any other thicker gauge of wire.
Thicker wires can withstand the high current from the 20 amp circuit. A 12 gauge wire can also be used for a 15 amp circuit breaker, and there would be no complications.
Adhering to this helps in preserving a considerable amount of voltage. So before you fix any wire on your circuit amp breaker, you are ought to know the compatibility of that wire and your circuit.
It is better to use a higher gauge of wire for a lower circuit breaker and vice versa.
Is It Better To Use A 14 Gauge Wire?
With the modern designs and electrical needs of houses, using a 14 gauge wire is not better. Your choice of a wire gauge depends on the appliances in your home. Although you could still use a 14 gauge wire for certain rooms in the house, it is no longer the better choice. The 12 gauge wire is the better option.
Before now, homeowners were comfortable with the 15 amp system of a circuit which goes with a 14 gauge wire.
But with the advancement of technology, the 15 amp circuit is beginning to phase out.
This change is induced by the dominance of high-power-consuming appliances in use today.
Kitchen and garage appliances like dishwashers, refrigerators, washers, e.t.c are the major gadgets in question.
Using a 15 amp circuit could lead to the damage of those appliances and perhaps something worse.
That is why a 20 amp circuit is now used in homes to protect our appliances and improve our safety.
Since a 20 amp circuit does not go with a 14 gauge wire, a 12 gauge wire is used instead. A 12 gauge wire has many benefits over a 14 gauge wire since it is thicker and could carry more electric current.
In addition, its capacity makes it a safer wire gauge, preventing overheating and possible fire outbreaks.
A 12 gauge wire would also support more outlets and appliances. With its capacity, you will not have to bother about the kind of appliances on certain outlets.
Also, you won’t have to worry about how far you should run your wires due to the preserved voltage percentage.
So with all these advantages, a 12 gauge wire has over a 14 gauge type. So it is undoubtedly better to use the 12 gauge wire.
Additionally, with a 12 gauge wire, you would not have to worry about expansion. You can easily add new electrical appliances without fear of overloading your circuit.
In a nutshell, the gauge of wire you are to use should be compatible with your circuit. And it also works with the National Electrical Code (N.E.C) of using just 80 percent of the total amp of your circuit.
To be on the safer side, always use a wire gauge to assure you of no fire hazards and damage.