The Importance of Wire Gauge

When doing an electrical project, knowing the wire gauge is important in determining your wires’ ampacity, or how much electric current a wire can carry without being damaged. A wire gauge measures a wire’s cross-sectional area using the American Wire Gauge System’s AWG number. There are up to 40 different gauge sizes featuring cross-sectional areas ranging from 0.013 mm2 to 107.22 mm2, with their diameters changing incrementally between each gauge.

Learn everything you need to know about the importance of wire gauge here to complete your next electrical project without any hiccups.

What Are the Standard AWG Gauge Sizes?

Depending on the amount of current you need for a specific application, the following are some of the commonly used AWG gauge sizes:

  • 14-gauge wire
  • 12-gauge wire
  • 10-gauge wire
  • 8- gauge wire
  • 6-gauge wire
  • 2-gauge wire

Fun fact: Contrary to what most people expect, the wire size increases as the AWG number decreases.

Benefits of Using a Proper Wire Gauge

Prevent Fire Hazards

Using a wrong wire gauge leads to heat resistance, which can quickly turn into a fire hazard. Notably, each cable is designed to accommodate a specific amount of voltage ideal for a given application. If you use an inappropriately sized wire, it may end up melting due to the high amounts of flowing current.

Avoid Damage

An inaccurate wire gauge can cause extensive damage to your appliances and electronics. For example, an amplifier can be damaged whenever an inadequate current flows to its circuits. Additionally, if the wrong wire size is used, your amplifier may not receive the proper voltage that it needs to perform optimally. This means that the sound quality of your system will not be up to par.

How to Choose the Right Electrical Wire Gauge

When choosing the ideal electrical wire size for your project, use the following assigned Wire Use-Rated Ampacity:

  • 18-gauge is suitable for lamp cords in 10 amps and other low-voltage lighting fixtures.
  • 14-gauge is used for lamps, light fixtures, and lighting circuits with 15 amps.
  • 16-gauge is best for extension cords supporting 13 amps.
  • 12-gauge is ideal for use in the bathroom, kitchen, outdoor receptacles, and 120-volt AC’s supporting 20 amps.
  • 10-gauge are commonly used in electric clothes dryers, electric water heaters supporting 30 amps, and 240-volt window air conditioners.
  • 6-gauge is best for use with cooktops and ranges that carry 40-50 amps.
  • 4-gauge is used for big electric heaters protected at 60 amps.

Talk to Us About Quality Steel Supply

Determining the right wire gauge is crucial to the success of your electrical project. At Wickwire Warehouse Inc., we have an extensive stainless steel inventory sourced from the world over. As a leading steel strapping supplier and stainless steel wire suppliers in PA, OH, and the surrounding areas, you can rest assured the quality of our materials will be perfect for your projects.