When it comes to electrical wiring, the debate between 12-2 vs 14-2 is not uncommon. It can be confusing for someone who is not familiar with electrical work. The size and gauge of wires used in a particular project can affect the outcome of the whole project. Thus, it’s important to understand the differences between 12-2 and 14-2 wires to choose the right wire size and gauge for the project. This article aims to clarify the confusion between the two types of wires and help you choose the wire size and gauge that best suits your electrical project.
What is 12-2 wire?
12-2 wire is a common type of electrical cable used for wiring houses, buildings and industrial infrastructure. It is made of two insulated copper wires, a black one and a white one, and a bare copper conductor. The black wire carries the electrical current to the load, the white wire returns the current to the source and the bare copper is the ground wire.
The “12” in 12-2 wire refers to the wire gauge, which is the diameter of the wire. In this case, it’s 12 gauge, and the diameter of the copper wire is roughly 0.080 inches. The wire’s capacity to carry electrical current is roughly 20 amps. 12-2 wires are commonly used for lighting and outlet circuits.
What is 14-2 wire?
14-2 wire is also a common type of electrical cable used for wiring houses, buildings and industrial infrastructure. Like 12-2 wire, it is made of two insulated copper wires and a bare copper conductor. The difference between the two is the gauge of the wire. In this case, 14-2 wire has a gauge of 14, and the diameter of the copper wire is roughly 0.064 inches. It can carry electrical current up to roughly 15 amps. 14-2 wires are commonly used for lighting circuits with light loads.
12-2 vs 14-2: How do they compare?
The main difference between the two types of wires is their gauge and capacity to carry electrical current. 12-2 wire has a larger diameter and can carry up to 20 amps, whereas 14-2 wire has a smaller diameter and can carry up to 15 amps. This means 12-2 wire can be used for high-load circuits like outlets and appliances, while 14-2 wires are ideal for circuits with light loads.
The choice of wire gauge and size depends on the electrical load of the circuit. If the circuit has a high load, use 12-2 wire to accommodate the current flow. If the circuit has a light load, use 14-2 wire to avoid wastage of wire size and gauge.
Another factor to consider is the distance of the circuitry. Long distance circuits require a larger wire gauge to overcome the voltage drop. So, if the circuitry is far from the power source, use a larger gauge to compensate for the voltage drop.
1. Can I use 12-2 wire instead of 14-2 wire?
Yes, you can use a 12-2 wire instead of 14-2 wire, but it is not always necessary. If the circuit has a light load, using a 12-2 wire will be wasteful, and you will end up paying more while gaining an electrical overhead. Using a 14-2 wire will be sufficient and cost-effective, as it is compatible with a light load circuit.
2. How do I know which wire gauge to use?
You should consider the type of electrical load on the circuit and how far the circuit is from the power source to determine the wire size and gauge to use. You can use a wire gauge chart as a reference to see which wire size and gauge go with different loads and distances.
3. What happens if I use the wrong gauge wire?
Using the wrong gauge wire can result in an electrical hazard, damage your electrical appliances and circuitry, and cause a fire. If the circuit has a high load, using a smaller gauge wire can lead to overheating and electrical failure. If the circuit has a light load, using a larger gauge wire will be wasteful and could lead to short circuits.
In conclusion, understanding the difference between 12-2 and 14-2 wires is essential to determine the right wire size and gauge for your electrical project. 12-2 wires are suitable for high-load circuits, while 14-2 wires are ideal for light load circuits. Consider the type of load on the circuit and how far the circuit is from the power source to determine the best wire size and gauge to use. Always prioritize safety when dealing with electrical work, and follow the correct code of conduct regarding cabling and wiring.