Cables are designed to accommodate specific loads. If you pair a conductor with a heavier load than it can carry, you may start a fire. Therefore, do not proceed until you know everything there is to know about 6AWG wires.
How Many Amps Can 6 Gauge Wire Handle?
According to NEC, 6AWG copper wire can accommodate 55A at 60 degrees C, 65A at 75 degrees C, and 75A at 90 degrees C. If you have aluminum (or copper-clad aluminum), it can carry 40A at 60 degrees C, 50A at 75 degrees C, and 55A at 90 degrees C.
6 Gauge Wire Amp Rating
|Wire Gauge Size
THW, THWN, SE, USE, XHHW
THWN-2, THHN, XHHW-2, USE-2
THW, THWN, SE, USE, XHHW
XHHW-2, THHN, THWN-2
A circuit breaker will trip when you overload the wires it is supposed to protect. Therefore, the wire size should match the breaker size. Otherwise, the circuit breaker will trip too early or too late.
People don’t realize that the timing matters. If the breaker trips too early because you connected an appliance that dramatically exceeds the wire’s rating, that appliance will become a nuisance. It will deprive your home of electricity whenever you attempt to run it.
But if the breaker size exceeds the wire size, the breaker won’t trip fast enough. It may permit the wires to overload and melt before it takes action, which is problematic.
How does this relate to 6-gauge wire? What breaker size suits this gauge?
You can see that 6AWG can withstand 55 amps if you have copper wire.
But if the cables consist of aluminum conductors, the amp rating falls to 40A, which doesn’t sound quite as impressive. However, that figure jumps to 50A for aluminum and 65A for copper once you raise the from 140 degrees F to 167 degrees F.
As you can see, determining the amp rating of 6AWG conductors is not straightforward. You must account for all the factors that can increase or reduce the wire’s amp rating.
This is why many homeowners prefer to leave this question in the hands of a licensed electrician. You will most likely focus your attention on the gauge and its related amp rating. The electrician will remember to look at the material, setting, and temperature rating.
6-Gauge Wire Compatibility Check
How To Calculate Exact Amps For 6AWG?
AWG is a unit of measurement. It stands for ‘American Wire Gauge.’ Some countries use mm to measure wire size. But the gauge is still popular because of its convenience.
It is denoted in numbers. The smaller the number, the greater the gauge. For instance, 2AWG is thicker than 20AWG. To be clear, it is not your job to measure the wire gauge.
The manufacturer will include this information on the jacket. In fact, if you ask a retailer for electrical wire, they will ask you to specify the gauge. Therefore, you don’t have to wonder how the manufacturer expects you to identify a 6AWG wire.
Believe it or not, determining the wire size is the most challenging step. Once you know the wire size, you can compare it to the information in the NEC tables that I have published above. You can find these tables all over the internet.
I want you to emphasize the breaker size because wires and breakers go hand in hand. You must find an appropriate wire size for every breaker. Otherwise, the breaker will trip too frequently or not at all.
Pay attention to the load if the breaker size is not an issue. How much power do you want 6AWG conductors to carry? If 6AWG can safely withstand 55A, you cannot attach a load that exceeds 55 amps.
In other words, your decision to use 6AWG will depend on the load.
If you want to pair 6AWG with a breaker, don’t forget to multiply the breaker size by 125 percent to get the appropriate ampacity.
All this assumes that you know the wire gauge. But what if you don’t? What if the information on the jacket rubbed off? You can still determine the gauge by making a perpendicular cut and measuring the cable’s diameter.
Does Voltage Affect 6-Gauge Wire?
The voltage and the gauge are unrelated. The gauge tells you the amount of current a conductor can safely carry. The gauge matters because it doesn’t take much to overwhelm a wire with electricity.
If the conductors transmit more electricity than they can withstand, they will melt and start a fire. Knowing the gauge allows you to determine the amps, which, in turn, shows you the amount of power the cables can safely carry.
The voltage doesn’t matter here. It influences the insulation. But the insulation is unlikely to matter for everyday applications in a conventional home.
Does Material (Copper/Aluminum) Affect 6AWG Amp Rating?
Yes, the material is important. Copper and aluminum have different strengths and weaknesses:
Copper has been around for a while. The material’s popularity has persisted because it is more conductive than all its rivals, except for silver. Copper is superior to aluminum in many aspects. You can expect better tensile strength and thermal expansion.
Aluminum is significantly less conductive than copper. Most electronic devices use copper for this reason. If you want to replace copper with aluminum, the aluminum wire should be two sizes larger.
Otherwise, you will overwhelm the conductors. Aluminum has a lower ampacity than copper. But that doesn’t mean you have to use copper. Many projects will choose aluminum over copper because of the price.
If you have a massive project that requires tons of cabling, aluminum is the more cost-effective option.
If that isn’t enough to make you an aluminum convert, the material is also significantly lighter. You will find it in weight-sensitive applications.
6-Gauge Wire Vs Distance
Considering 55A, You can run 6 AWG copper wires for a maximum of 76 feet in a 120V circuit, 154 feet in a 240V circuit, and 306 feet in 480V. This is for a single phase. In a three-phase system, you can run 88 feet in a 120v circuit, 177 feet in a 240v, and 354 feet in a 480v with a voltage drop of 3 percent. While I don’t suggest using 6 AWG aluminum wire.
For Copper Wire,
What Does The NEC Say About It?
NEC expects 6AWG wires to withstand 55 amps.
Most of the tables online agree with the NEC. Actually, most of the tables get their information from the NEC. They know that local authorities have the power to make their own regulations, yet they tend to adhere to the NEC’s rulings. Therefore, the information they present in their tables typically mirrors the NEC’s opinion.
Use of 6-Gauge Wire
With AWG, the thickest wires have the smallest numbers. Therefore, 6AWG is extremely thick and capable of withstanding large amounts of current. You can use this wire size with double oven ranges that use up to 55 amps of electricity. You can also trust 6AWG to operate vehicle systems and larger appliances such as hot tubs, dishwashers, and dryers.
Simply put, 6AWG cabling can operate most residential appliances. They are not always necessary. Thick wires are more expensive than their thinner counterparts.
Therefore, you cannot afford to use 6AWG conductors in every room. Limit the wire size to places like the kitchen and laundry room with heavy-duty appliances.
However, this applies explicitly to 6AWG copper wires. If you want to use aluminum, you are better off upgrading to 4AWG. 6AWG aluminum can withstand less current than 6AWG copper.
6-Gauge Wire Watt Rating
The average 6AWG copper cable has an ampacity of 55A. Considering 55A, 12V gives 660W, 120V gives 6600W, 240V gives 13200W and 480V provides 26400W.
Multiply the amps and voltage. This will give you the wattage.
In the case above, 55 amps are multiplied by 12 volts to get 660 watts.
Of course, these calculations won’t help you if you don’t know the amps. You have to check the NEC’s tables beforehand. You cannot find the wattage without the amps and volts.
Some tables will show you the amperage associated with each wire size. Others expect you to perform the relevant calculations. What if you have a wide range, such as 32A to 60A? Focus on the amps you have chosen to target.
For instance, if you want 6AWG to accommodate a load of 45 amps, multiply 45 amps by the voltage to get the watts. Again, don’t hesitate to consult a professional electrician, especially if you don’t know how to identify the voltage and amps.
6-Gauge Wire Vs Breaker Size
6AWG cables can withstand as many as 75 amps of electricity. They can work with breakers of a smaller size. The objective of the breaker is to protect the wires.
It reacts when it detects a current that exceeds the wire’s capacity. The breaker cuts the power before the current can harm the wires. Large cables are less of a concern because they are thick enough to accommodate significant quantities of electricity.
The biggest problem is a large breaker attached to a small wire. The wire will melt before the breaker can do its work.
6 Gauge Automotive/Stranded/thnn/Marine Wire Amps Rating