A 16 gauge wire is ideally used for an extension cord to run appliances like leaf blowers, hedge trimmers, vacuums, and other low-amperage appliances.
How Many Amps Can a 16 Gauge Wire Handle
Sixteen gauge wire is rated for 13 amps which makes it useful for low amperage appliances, but 16 gauge is rarely used in residential wiring, and the most common use of this wire is in automobiles.
Furthermore, the sixteen gauge wire is not even listed in the NEC code because this wire has no wider usage across households.
Uses of Sixteen Gauge Copper Wire
The sixteen gauge copper wire can do the best job than an aluminum wire, and you will be able to use it for headlights, parking lights, turn signals, ignition coil, starter, interior lights, and alternator. So you can say that the everyday use of a 16 gauge wire is in the electrical wiring of a vehicle.
Is Aluminum used in Sixteen Gauge Wire?
Aluminum builds up a layer of oxide to serve as a resistor, but 16 gauge wires are not manufactured in Aluminum. Instead, the 16 gauge wires are made in copper wiring to handle higher temperatures and overflows like 18 amps, 20 amps, or even 25 amps.
Twelve gauges, and fourteen gauge wires are thicker than 16 gauge wires, or these wires have a wider tunnel to handle more amps.
Restrictions on 16 Gauge Wire
The most common use of a 16 gauge wire is as an extension cord for lowered ampacity, but there are few practical uses of 16 gauge wire, and depending on the distance, the wire can handle more or less amperage like
- 3 feet distance is 50 amps
- 5 feet is 30 amps
- 10 feet is 18 to 30 amps
- 20 feet is 8 to 12 amps
- 25 feet is 8 to 10 amps
Other than that, 16 gauge wire can be used in home theater systems, car audio components, speaker wires, and amplifier wires.
Eight and sixteen-ohm speakers are ideal for 16 gauge wire to prevent audio distortion, capacitance issues, and garbage signal quality.
Voltage Drop of 16 Gauge Wire
Voltage Drop occurs when the voltage at the end of a cable run is lower than at the beginning. Voltage drop happens due to the wire’s resistance and increases proportionally with the length of the wire. So, Voltage drop only occurs in longer cables, like in more significant buildings.
Wires have resistance or impedance that affects the flow of current, and VD is measured as the amount of voltage loss that happens in a wire, called cable “impedance” in volts.
A wire can handle only a tiny amount of voltage drop because the more significant number of VD will result in lights flickering and dimming. After all, low voltage affects the proper function of an appliance. During this condition, the passing current requires more load, increasing the temperature.
To handle the voltage drop, the wire gauge is used to manage the strength of the current.
A 16 gauge wire carrying ten amps at 100 feet will lose 8V,; for 10 feet,, the voltage drop will be ten times less at 0.08V.
So, 16 gauge wire won’t be suitable for long-distance amperage transfer.
Joining 16 gauge wire with 14 gauge or 18 gauge
You cannot pair a 16 gauge with a 14 gauge wire when used for higher amps, but when used in vehicles and for audio applications, the 14,16,18 gauges can be paired easily; just make sure the insulation is done correctly.
Finally, a 16 gauge can handle a reasonable amount of amps but is not usable for higher amps capacity. I can say that it’s not the most recognized wire available.
Finding gauge and Amperage
You can find the gauge and Amperage, and you have to determine the cross-sectional area that will help you choose the wattage of your home’s available devices.
All you have to do is convert the wattage into Amperage, and you will be able to find the load the circuit will carry. Given below is the table for various gauges.
How does the NEC define Ampacity?
NEC stands for National Electrical Codes, a regulatory institute since 1897 that was introduced by National Fire Protection Association when homeowners started facing electric wiring problems in household wirings.
NEC defines and provides the latest information to DIY electricians regarding wiring so that homeowners can take advantage of the protocols and programs.
NEC provides the required information for Ampacity to homeowners for DIY electrical projects to avoid electrical fires so that no one can doae code violations that can cause problems for others.
Those who won’t follow residential wiring standards when doing electrical work or masonry and put the lives of others in danger by not following the safety regulations can get lawsuits.
A wire is designed to handle different amounts of load, and it can never carry an infinite amount of current. These limits are defined by National Electric Code limits to ensure safe power capacities, and that’s why when you try to pass more current than that designated rating for any wire, you will experience circuit breaker trip, fire, and other problems due to excessive load. So, to be on the safe side, you should familiarize yourself with home electrical capacity before making changes to the electrical system of your home or residential building.
Load is simply the power a connected appliance demands and is measured in watts, and for this article, a 16-gauge wire will handle only 15 amps of load effortlessly.
Voltage and Amperage
Voltage is the potential flow of power and Amperage is the amount of electricity that passes through the wire. In other words, Amperage measures power flow, and the simple understanding of the Amperage is that 20 amps flow at 120 volts and 40 amps flow at 240 volts, and that’s the highest voltage any appliance can demand dryers, workshop tools, or heavy-duty equipment.
NEC has defined limits for different wire gauges, and this article discusses 16-gauge wire. It is prohibited for 20A flow, which is unsuitable for 240-volt circuits and ideal for only 120V circuits.
To understand this better, remember this formula
Watts = volts x amps
Wire presents watt = 120 x 20
watts = 2,400
So 2400 watts onto your 16-gauge wiring for the 120-volt circuit is what you will expect from your 16-gauge wire.
Wire Gauge Information
When you want to extend or rewire a circuit in your home, you need to know a few things to choose the right circuit size, like planned load, number of outlets, and circuit length.
When you know about these things, you can choose the correct wire that can handle the required Amperage and choose the suitable wire that is sized for the amperage rat which will help the circuit run smoothly rather than getting overheated and causing fires.
By the way, there are different types and sizes of electrical wires, Eachire is differentiated by a gauge number that defines the usage of that cable because homeowners can use from most minor to most giant appliances, which require different amps, and that’s why a specific gauge type wire is essential to choose to handle the proper amps of current flow.
A wire gauge is a physical wire size opposite to the diameter of the conductor diameter. To help you understand this better, we have discussed a table below for different wire gauges so that you can choose the correct wire gauge for the amount of current flow required.
The below table shows wire gauge ratings, and other data about wires for non-metallic ( NM ) sheathed cables.
Amperage Capacities for Standard Non-Metallic (NM) Cable
You should know that wires come in different conduct, like Aluminum and copper, and have various ampacity-carrying capacities. A downside of aluminum wires is that higher Amperage can expand the wire enough so it will lose to the extent that it will end up causing a fire but only in an overloading situation. Rest, the aluminum wire has no problems with average Amperage.
Stranded vs. Solid Wire
It’sessentialt that you use the stranded or solid wire style for the circuit.
A stranded wire is not the most helpful wire type because the solid wire has a solid copper conductor, and the installation is done with a metal conduit. Similarly, the solid wire is hard to pull and can easily be secured under a screw terminal, and that’s why it’s perfect for household wiring.
Importance of Wire Gauge
overflow of current, fire, overheating, circuit breaker and fuses, absolute protection, sense current overloads, trip or blow, danger point overload, guard against exceeding amperage rating, too many appliances, plugged,
A wire gauge is essential to avoid the overflow of current, fire, and overheating. The first line of defense can be a circuit breaker or fuse that trip or blow when a flood happens to protect the wiring and your house, but this is not the most suitable guard against exceeding the amperage rating.
So, you should know about the wire gauge to decide how many appliances you can plug into a particular outlet because when a device draws more power from a wire than the defined amperage rating, that’s when it causes a threat to the safety of the wiring system of your home.
For example, when we plug a heater into an extension cord, it draws more current than the maximum limit of the amps of the wire and results in melting insulation or igniting surrounding materials.
If you are a beginner and don’t know about wire gauges and appliance amps, then we have made a table below to help you understand which appliances can be used for particular wire gauges.
Low-voltage lighting and lamp cords
Extension cords (light-duty)
Light fixtures, lamps, lighting circuits
Kitchen, bathroom, and outdoor receptacles (outlets); 120-volt air conditioners
Electric clothes dryers, 240-volt window air conditioners, electric water heaters, and sometimes cooktops and wall ovens
Cooktops and ranges
Electric furnaces, large electric heaters
A household can have different appliances like laptops, lights, TV stereos, curling irons, hair dryers, ranges, refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, microwave ovens, washers, dryers, toasters, blenders, pizza ovens, coffee pots, crock pots, and a handful of other appliances are used in households commonly and therefore, it’s super crucial for you to know the higher amperage rating of a wire to avoid fire hazards.
Wires differ from thinnest to thickest, having different diameters, cross-sections, and amperage ratings.
The AWG is a logarithmic stepped standardized wire gauge system that simplifies the wire sizing to help you choose the correct wire for proper operations without compromising safety.
Let’s look at the wire gauge chart, denoting diameter ( mm ), cross-section ( mm2), and Amperage for all the types of wires available.
You will find information for AWG 4/0, 3/0, 2/0, 1/0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40 wires, AWG wire size chart, mm, mm2, amperage,
Ampacity (at 75°C)
0000 (4/0) AWG
000 (3/0) AWG
00 (2/0) AWG
0 (1/0) AWG
4/0 Gauge Wire
The 4/0 gauge wire is the thickest and most potent wire, which is wide enough that it can only turn two times per inch, and this wire supports 230 amp current flow at 75 degrees Celcius and 260 amps at 90-degree Celcius temperature.
The 4/0 gauge wire is used for heavy-duty applications like welding, drilling, and other tasks.
3/0 Gauge Wire Details
The 3/0 gauge wire is the second thickest gauge wire, is slightly less potent than the 4/0 gauge wire, and comes with a large-amp capacity of 200 amperes at 75 degrees Celcius the best part is that it is rated for up to 600 volts which is impressive. This high-end wire is built to work in temperatures between -58°F and +221°F.
2/0 Gauge Wire Details
The 2/0 gauge wire is the next thickest wire capable of handling 175 amps of current flow and is ideally used for heavy-duty applications and in cars, inverters, RVs, and large solar panels.
1/0 Gauge Wire Details
A 1/0 gauge wire is also called a 0 gauge wire, which is quite thick, can bend three times per inch, and can support 150 amps at 75 degrees Celcius, making it sound like a speaker wire, power wire, and welding wire.
1 Gauge Wire Details
The one gauge wire, also knowns as a non-negative wire gau, can handle 130 amps at 75-degree Celcius and is super helpful as a battery cable, automotive cable, and marine cable available on the market and comes at $3 per foot.
2 Gauge Wire Details
The two gauge wire is the most common 100 ampacity cable that can easily handle 115 amps.
3 Gauge Wire Details
The three-gauge copper wire can handle 100 amps at 75°C and support four turns in an inch.
4 Gauge Wire Details
The four gauge wire is the most commonly used wire that is slightly thinner compared with the above-discussed wires, and it can turn five times per inch and can support 85 amps current. The common uses of this wire are as battery cable, welding cable, OFC wire for audio, marine wire for boat electronics, and automobile wire.
5 Gauge Wire Details
A 5 gauge wire can handle 85 to 65 amps, but it’s rarely used.
6 Gauge Wire Details
A 6 gauge wire is a mid-amp AWG wire, also known as sub-100 amp current flow, and the best use of this cable is for battery, marine, automotive, underground, and ground cables.
7 Gauge Wire Details
The seven gauge wire has no ampacity rating defined, and it’s used in households, but this one is also rarely used, and there are only a handful of producers of this wire.
8 Gauge Wire Details
An eight-gauge wire can easily handle 50 amps at average temperature, and it’s used for home appliances, automotive wires, and battery cables.
9 Gauge Wire Details
A 9 gauge galvanized wire is not used as electrical wire, and this high tensile wire made for steel is used for different purposes like tractor supply and tension wire.
10 Gauge Wire Details
A 10 gauge wire is a versatile and stranded wire with a capacity of 35 amps.
11 Gauge Wire Details
The 11 gauge wire has no rated ampacity and is mainly used in households or as a mechanical hanging wire rather than as an electrical one.
12 Gauge Wire Details
The 12 gauge wire is the most commonly used in homes and residential buildings and is also known as the 2-millimeter wire that can support 25 amps of current flow and is highly used for indoor electronics like board circuits, automotive wire, and speaker wire.
13 Gauge Wire Details
The 13 gauge wire has no amp rating defined by the manufacturers.
14 Gauge Wire Details
The 14 gauge wire can handle 15 to 20 amps and is used for automotive wires, inside marine boards, and outlets to plug air conditioners.
15 Gauge Wire Details
The 15 gauge wire is mechanical, not electrical, and has no rated ampacity.
16 Gauge Wire Details
The 16 gauge wire is the perfect example of household wire that electricians commonly use for home circuit boards and 12V batteries, and it can handle 17 amps, 2040 watts at 120V, and 3740 watts at 220V.
17 Gauge Wire Details
The 17 gauge wire has 60,000 PSI tensile strength and is a galvanized steel wire with no rated ampacity.
18 Gauge Wire Details
The 18 gauge wire allows only 14 amps of current to flow and is used as electrical wire for thermostats, and at 120V, it can support 1680 watts, and at 220V, it can support 3080 watts.
19 Gauge Wire Details
The 19 gauge wire is not an electrical wire and has no rated ampacity.
20 Gauge Wire Details
The 20 gauge wire is the most popular low voltage wire commonly used for low voltage battery electronic devices like jewelry making. It is suitable for only 132 watts of batteries.
22 Gauge Wire Details
The 22 gauge wire can handle only seven amps, supports only 1000W at 120V, and is used for LED lights.
24 Gauge Wire Details
The 24 gauge wire comes in different materials like copper, brass, stainless steel, silicone, and Aluminum and has no rating ampacity.
26 Gauge Wire Details
The 26 gauge wire allows 2.2 amps of current and can handle less than 500 watts, and is the cheapest wire of all time.
28 Gauge Wire Details
The 28 gauge wire allows 1.4 amps and is used in toys, small electronics, LED lighting, mini motors, internal connectors, model cars, and model ships.
30 Gauge Wire Details
The 30 gauge wire is the thinnest wire used for small electrical power needs and supports only 10 watts.
32 Gauge Wire Details
The 32 gauge wire supports 0.53 amps.
34 Gauge Wire Details
The 34 gauge wire supports only 0.3 amps
36 Gauge Wire Details
The 36 gauge is the one with amps not defined
38 Gauge Wire Details
The 36 gauge is the one with amps not defined
40 Gauge Wire Details
The 36 gauge is the one with amps not defined
Amp Wire Sizes
As you know, Amperage is the number of amps a specific wire gauge handle. Sometimes we know the known number of amps to select the correct wire gauge, and sometimes, we don’t.
So, let’s see what gauge will be required for 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80,90, 100, 200 amps.
10 Amps Wire Size
The appropriate wire size for ten amps is 20 AWG wire which supports 11 amps; go with 18AWG for the safety circuit.
15 Amps Wire Size
To pass 15 amps, you need 16 Gauge wire, rated for an ampacity of 17 amps; you can make a safe circuit with 14 AWG.
20 Amps Wire Size
To pass 20 amps, you need 14 AWG wire, which is 20 amps rated; if you want a safe circuit, go with 12 AWG.
25 Amps Wire Size
To pass 25 amps, you need 12AWG wire, but you can also use 10AWG for the safer circuit.
30 Amps Wire Size
To pass 30 amps, the most appropriate wire size is 10AWG, rated for 35 amps and if you want a safer circuit, go with 8 AWG.
40 Amps Wire Size
To pass 40 amps, you need 8 AWG wire, which is rated for 50 amps and if you want a safer circuit, go with 6 AWG.
50 Amps Wire Size
To pass 50 amps, you need 6 AWG wires rated for 55 amps and if you want a safer circuit, go with 5 AWG.
60 Amps Wire Size
To pass 60 amps, you need 6 AWG wires rated for 65 amps and if you want a safer circuit, go with 4 AWG.
70 Amps Wire Size
To pass 70 amps, you need 4 AWG wires rated for 85 amps and if you want a safer circuit, go with 3 AWG.
80 Amps Wire Size
To pass 80 amps, you need4 AWG wire, rated for 85 amps and if you want a safer circuit, go with 3 AWG.
90 Amps Wire Size
To pass 90 amps, you need 3 AWG wires, rated for 100 amps and if you want a safer circuit, go with 2 AWG wires.
100 Amps Wire Size
To pass 100 amps, you need 3 AWG wires, which is 100 amps, and if you want a safer circuit, go 2 AWG.
200 Amps Wire Size
To pass 200 amps, you need 3/0 AWG wire rated for 200 amps and if you want a safer circuit, go with 4/0 AWG.
- How Many Amps Can a 14 Gauge Wire Handle
- How Many Amps Can a 16 Gauge Wire Handle
- How Many Amps Can 12 Gauge Wire Handle
- How Many Amps Can 10 Gauge Wire Handle
- How Many Amps Can 20 Gauge Wire Handle
- How Many Amps Can 8 Gauge Wire Handle
- How Many Amps Can 18 Gauge Wire Handle
- How Many Amps Can 6 Gauge Wire Handle
- How Many Amps Can 4 Gauge Wire Handle
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