# 15 gage wire on 20 amp circuit

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• posted on April 14, 2004, 8:39 pm
I need to add a ceiling light in the bathroom, and is going to wire to the circuit for the bathroom, which is 20 amp.
Is is OK to use 15 gage for the light (<0W), or I have to use 12 gage wire? What does the code say?
Thanks.
UU

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• posted on April 14, 2004, 10:09 pm
I would suspect your bathroom circuit can stand the addition of another amp or so...which is about what a 100 watt light bulb might add. 14/2 wire to the lamp will work fine. I'm assuming you're tapping into the existing bathroom circuit somewhere.

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• posted on April 14, 2004, 10:18 pm
14/2 on a 20 amp breaker??
Bob

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• posted on April 15, 2004, 3:03 am

And that circuit has a 20A breaker. Which means that using 14-gauge wire *anywhere* in the circuit is a code violation.

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• posted on April 14, 2004, 10:21 pm
Usenet User wrote:

No. That 20 amp breaker is designed to protect 12 gauge or larger wire. It is also not code.
BTW 15 gauge ???? Are you sure it is not 14?
--
Joseph E. Meehan

26 + 6 = 1 It's Irish Math

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• posted on April 14, 2004, 11:35 pm
Oops. I meant 14 gauge wire on a 20amp circuit.
There is only one 20 receptable on the bathroom circuit. The only use of that is probably just hair dryer. So adding a 100W light should be no problem.
Now if the bulp is on a lamp, you might be able to use a 18 gauge wire (to connect to an outlet). But when it is ceiling light, you have to make the wire 12 gauge. Why?
UU

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• posted on April 15, 2004, 12:15 am
Typically because the lamp will have a sticker saying "Use 75W or less" or some such override.
BTW, don't put a 20A breaker on 14/2 wire. Burning houses really suck...
Jay Bird
Usernet User wrote:

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• posted on April 15, 2004, 12:40 am
Maybe I misunderstood. He HAS 12/2 running from the breaker to the outlet. He asked if he could run 14/2 from the outlet to a 100 watt light bulb. It may not be code but I would think it's real unlikely to burn down a house!

make

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• posted on April 15, 2004, 1:05 am
Curmudgeon wrote:

Maybe it will not burn the house down, but it is against code, it is less safe, it is bad form and all to save what \$2.58?
--
Joseph E. Meehan

26 + 6 = 1 It's Irish Math

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• posted on April 15, 2004, 1:46 am
I am in the process of finishing the basement, and used up all the 250ft 12/2 and is 10ft short of that. I have plenty of 14/2 left.So that is why I was thinking to use 14/2 for the bathroom 20amp circuit.
Now the only real danger I can think of is when a future owner want to change the light nox to, say a heater/light combo, and uses more amps than what 14/2 can handle. That might cause a problem.
Anyway, if that is against code (which was my original question), I am not going to do it. I'll just buy another box of 12/2.
UU

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• posted on April 15, 2004, 2:40 am

It is cheaper to buy by the box, but if you only need 10 feet, go to Home Depot or a good hardware store and they will cut what you want. Ed

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• posted on April 15, 2004, 12:35 pm
I think I have at least 20 feet leftover in my garage. You are welcome to it! :+)
(I hate working with 12/2. Stiff crap compared to 14/2.)
Jay
Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

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• posted on April 15, 2004, 4:13 am
Usernet User wrote:

You can buy the ten feet of cable for that installation by the foot at any home center. -- Tom H

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• posted on April 15, 2004, 12:43 pm
I have been following the thread about using 14 guage wire for a new bath lite on an existing 12 guage circuit.
I see the points about someone else in the future removing the lite and putting in a bath lite/heater combination and causing a fire, etc.
Thru ignorance over the past 30 years, I am guilty of doing this. Maybe 33 years ago the NEC code was different and allowed this.
With all the controversy : 1) WHY do they even make 14 guage wire if it is the problem it can be ?
2) Would it not make more sense to just sell 12 guage and ELIMINATE all the bullsh*t ?
3) Is 14 guage sold simply due to the \$\$\$ factor ??
TIA

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• posted on April 15, 2004, 2:26 pm

It's not a problem at all with 15A circuits.

While that would work, it isn't necessary if you are wiring with 15A.

No 14g is sold for folks that know what they're doing.
This isn't a big deal. Matching the wire gauge to the circuit amperage capacity is a no-brainer. It's only a problem when the DIY doesn't DTH (do their homework).
Mike

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• posted on April 15, 2004, 10:07 pm

I agree with all the above.
However if the USA only sold 12 guage, then there not only WOULD not but also COULD not be a problem in current typical home wiring.
The problem of wire SIZING would cease to exist for the types of circuits we are talking about. There would only be ONE size wire for these circuits.
TIA

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• posted on April 16, 2004, 12:16 am
Conase wrote:

And if my grandma had balls, she would be my grandpa.
Number 14 wire is easier to work with [than #12], uses less copper to produce, and can be used with smaller outlet boxes. It's perfectly safe if you follow the rules.
Rather than outlaw #14 building wire, it would be more productive to outlaw stupid people.
-Bob

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• posted on April 16, 2004, 3:04 am
(Conase) wrote:

Yeah, but then we'd have discussions (fewer of them, I grant you, but still a non-zero number) about whether it's OK to use 12-ga wire on a 30A circuit.

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• posted on April 16, 2004, 12:14 am

the
It is faster, cheaper, and easier to work with 14 over 12 gauge. Why punish everyone for the possible sins (stupidity?) of a few? Lighting circuits are easily wired with #14 on a 15A fuse. So are light duty household circuits.
Done properly, there are NO problems with #14 wire. Ed

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• posted on April 15, 2004, 12:33 pm
If that is the case (that the 14/2 is only a branch off a 12/2 circuit), I agree. A light is no big deal.
Now the scare tactic (which worked for me when I did some upgrades a few years back): If it passes code/ispection, great. You are golden and saved \$5 worth of 12/2 (and the major hassle of working with 12/2 versus 14/2 :+).
However, if your house does burn down, and the 14/2 "illegal" branch is found, the insurance company may be able to void you claim as you had illegal wire and did not meet code.
Or someone taps from the light in the future with 12/2 (obviously it is a 20A circuit).
Also, I do not know the NEC that well. It may be perfectly legal to run a branch off a 20A circuit with 14/2 as long as that branch is to a light only.
Jay
PS: My advice (worth the price you are paying for it): Go to Home Depot/Lowes/Walmart, buy 10 feet of 12/2 and "do the right thing".
Curmudgeon wrote: