I've come across some wire that is probably 30 years old and is marked
14 gauge. The minimum gauge I want snaking around the house is 12
gauge, so I was about to pull it out when I noticed that the copper is
about as thick as new 12 gauge (and thicker than new 14 gauge). Is the
copper thinner now because of improvements in the manufacturing
process, or something? Is the wire rated by thickness or by current
carrying capacity? If it is current carrying capacity, then are they
using thinner wire because newer copper is a better conductor? This
isn't the plastic insulation I'm talking about, it's about the copper
It appears markedly thicker visually, but I'll use a vernier this
evening. I just thought they might be selling thinner wire rated for
the same capacity, kinda like they sell something 1.5X3.5 and call it a
cant go wrong running 12 gauge, but it is hared to work with. I wonder
why they dont make boxes bigger, that would help a lot.
its likely the same conductor size but old wire used real rubber
coverings, that were thicker. that may explain the confusion
Smaller boxes are harder to work in. More difficult = more manly man, or
some such bullshit. That's the only reason I can figure out. Code dictates
that as you run wires along beams, you don't bend them more than a certain
amount. Keep the bends gradual. Then, code says it's OK to jam the wires
into boxes in a way that doesn't match the previous rule.
ONe is not supposed to make sharp turns in cable tv coax either**, but
then the cable folded the cable twice and stuffed it in that little
box outside my house. It annoyed me.
**That because the insulation between the center wire and the braid
can be compressed, and the distance between the two becomes less, and
that can cause signal reflections and ghosts in the picture. I think
the picture was good though. I'm not too picky. :)
Remove NOPSAM to email me. Please let
me know if you have posted also.
"12 gauge can be a bitch to work with, especially when you need to cram
it behind the switches in boxes that aren't big enough. Are you sure
you want it running EVERYWHERE in the house? "
It's not a bitch to work with if you use stranded wire.
Can you cite where the NEC says this? I'm pretty new to this, so I
might be missing something, but I can find nothing.
A quick web serch leads me to believe that this is common enough
practice that it hardly warrants mention. The closest question that
comes up is whether it's OK to connect stranded wire directly to the
screw terminals on outlets. The nearly unanimous answer is that it is
code as long as the outlet is listed for it. All this discussion would
seem pretty pointless if you're not allowed to run stranded wire at
Just for laughs I looked up the UL info on the outlets I've been using,
and the only thing it bothers to specify is that you MUST use 14 awg
solid for the slide in connectors on the back. For the screw termianls
it just says "up to No. 12 copper or copper clad wire"...
The closest thing I can find in the NEC is that 8 awg and LARGER run
through a conduit MUST be stranded. This does not imply the
You can buy stranded wire in a cable form...I dont know the
designation...I just call it "cable tray wire". Its used a lot in
industrial plants where the vast majority of wiring is run in large
cable trays...the cables are then dropped off the tray at the machine
or appliance it is serving. Its probably expensive though and I dont
know what the code says about running it in concealed places...but I
know the sheath is probably just as durable as the outer sheath on
Use crimp on ring or fork terminals for stranded.
I dont have any problem with 14 gauge wire....the problem is fat lazy
americans and their power strips.....trying to run a 30 amp load on a
15 amp circuit....of course people are just ignorant...and electrical
supplies are available to anyone old enough to pick it off the shelf.
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