If you want to wire or extend a circuit, you have to ensure that the size of the wire matches the amperage rating of the circuit. What Size Wire Do I Need For 60 Amps?
The common practice is to assign 6-gauge wires to 60-amp circuits and appliances. However, I’m convinced that a 4-gauge wire is far superior. Precluding the cost consideration, there is no downside to using wires of much greater size for your 60-Amp circuit.
As this G&G Electric and Plumbing Distributors chart has shown, there are certain rules of thumb that professional electricians adhere to whenever they are tasked with identifying the right gauge for a particular ampacity.
For instance, 14-gauge wires are expected to work with 15 amps, 12-gauge wires with 20 amps, 10-gauge wires with 30 amps, and so on. As you now know, the smaller the gauge, the greater the diameter of the wire.
For a thorough look, you can check out this table
Circuit breakers are supposed to protect your home from fires and electrocutions that may occur as a result of overheating and overloading.
But breakers are not perfect. They can fail to function as required, leaving you vulnerable to potentially fatal catastrophes, particularly in situations where an appliance has drawn more current than the wire can safely carry.
The obvious solution to this problem is to use wires of the largest possible gauge. There are no dangers associated with the use of wires with the heaviest gauge. However, this approach exposes you to certain inconveniences, especially where the cost is concerned.
This is why you are better off matching the gauge of the wire to the ampacity of the circuit. But how do you identify the right wire gauge for your circuit?
What Do I Need to Know About Wire Sizes?
Of all the labels associated with wires, the gauge is one of the most important. Assigned by the American Wire Gauge System, ‘gauge’ is the term that professionals use to describe the physical size of a wire.
It has a numerical designation that gets smaller as the diameter of the wire grows. In other words, the smallest gauges are associated with the largest diameters and the largest gauges are associated with the smallest diameters.
|AWG||Diameter (inches)||Diameter (millimeters)|
As was mentioned above, you should match the gauge to the ampacity. If that term is new to you, Cerro Wire describes the ampacity
As the maximum current a conductor can continuously carry without exceeding its temperature threshold.
To determine a conductor’s ampacity, you must take into account the electrical devices you intend to connect to the circuit, not just their number but the type. Add their wattage together before dividing it by the system’s voltage. This will give you the load.
If you already know the ampacity (60 amps), it won’t take you long to identify the appropriate wire size/gauge.
Why Is the Right Wire Size Important?
The gauge of a wire doesn’t stop at revealing the diameter. It also tells you the current that a particular wire can carry safely and continuously. If you pair a circuit with the wrong gauge, electrical fires are more likely to occur.
If the appliances you have attached draw more power than the gauge is supposed to carry, and if the circuit breaker fails to respond as expected, the heat generated may cause the insulation to melt.
According to Spruce,
The melted insulation can ignite the materials in the vicinity, causing a fire.
The wrong gauge isn’t a mere inconvenience. It affects the safety of your home. You have to pay close attention to the amperage. It will reveal the kind of load you can expect to encounter. This will inform your choice of a wire gauge.
The goal in most cases is to select a size that your appliances are less likely to overload. 60-amp circuits are associated with heavy appliances such as electric furnaces and heaters. Because they draw a lot of power, the wrong gauge is more likely to cause an overload.
|Low voltage lights||10||18|
|Bathroom & Air Conditioner(120 v)||20||12|
What Is The Wire Size for a 60-Amp Subpanel 50, 100, or 150 Feet Away?
In the case of 60 amps, a 6-gauge wire is compatible with 50 feet. Once you reach 100 feet, you should switch to 4-gauge wires. This size applies to 150 feet as well. All in all, even though 6-gauge wiring is suitable for 60 amps, 4-gauge wiring is the better option.
The length of the wire is an important factor to consider when selecting the gauge. Wires will resist the flow of current.
The longer the wire, the more resistance the current will encounter.
To keep the voltage drop within the relevant code limits, you need a wire whose size can compensate for the distance.
Inspectapedia expects most professionals to jump one size for every one hundred feet that are added to the length. Total Home Supply is also convinced that an electrician who has to cover more than a hundred feet is better off jumping to the next largest wire size.
Related post Is Three Phase Electricity More Expensive?
Can 8, 6, 10 Gauge Wire Handle 60 Amps?
If you go by the rule of thumb, 60 amps require a 4-gauge wire. Many people get away with using 6-gauge wires. However, 4-gauge wires are the way to go. 8 and 10-gauge wires cannot even enter the conversation.
Wire Size And Amp Rating Chart
|Wire Gauge Size||60˚C|
THW, THWN, SE, USE, XHHW
THWN-2, THHN, XHHW-2, USE-2
THW, THWN, SE, USE, XHHW
XHHW-2, THHN, THWN-2
Where standard non-metallic cables are concerned, a 10-gauge wire has to be paired with 30 amps, and an 8-gauge wire with 40 amps. Can 8 gauge wire handle 60 amps? The technical answer is ‘No’.
The same goes for 10-gauge wires. However, practically speaking, there are several factors to consider when it comes to choosing the right gauge for a particular ampacity, with the most prominent being:
The ambient temperature rating will affect the gauge. Most charts that match wire gauges and ampacity tend to assume that the ambient temperature rating is 140 degrees F. 140 degrees F is the standard.
However, if the ambient temperature rating changes, the gauge will also change. Higher temperature ratings are associated with higher ampacity. Consider the 10-gauge wire. At the standard 140-degree temperature rating, it can handle 30 amps.
But if you raise that figure to 194 degrees F, the ampacity rises to 40. 8-gauge wires are in a similar boat. They can handle 40 amps at 140 degrees F. But that figure rises to 55 amps at 194 degrees F. That is the same ampacity that professionals associate with a 6-gauge wire.
Speaking of the 6-gauge wire, it can handle a whopping 75 amps at 194 degrees F. Keep in mind that a 4-gauge wire handles 70 amps at the standard 140 degrees F. As you can see, the ambient temperature can make all the difference.
Like the temperature, many charts that match wire gauges with ampacity assume that the wire is made out of copper. But some conductors are made from aluminum.
As far as Atlantic Aspiration is concerned, if the gauge is the same, a copper wire can safely carry more current than an aluminum wire. A 10-gauge copper wire can handle 35 amps at 167 degrees F whereas an aluminum wire of the same gauge will only carry 30 amps.
An 8-gauge copper wire can handle 50 amps at 167 degrees F but an 8-gauge aluminum wire at the same ambient temperature rating will only carry 40 amps.
Overall, you need a 4-gauge wire or greater to handle 60 amps. While it is possible to gamble with 6-gauge wiring, if you want to play it safe, 4-gauge wires are your best bet. However, if you are determined to experiment, take the ambient temperature and the material into account.
An 8-gauge aluminum wire is more likely to overload than an 8-gauge copper wire because copper can carry more ampacity. Most professionals would discourage you from pursuing such experimentation in the first place.
A gauge that is too small can lead to disaster. In the best-case scenario, the performance of your appliance will simply drop. In the worst-case scenario, your 8 or 10-gauge wires will melt. Not only are you likely to damage your equipment but you could start a fire.
The gauge of a wire is indicated by a numerical figure. The smaller the figure, the greater the diameter. The gauge tells you the size of the wire. It also reveals the current that can safely and continuously pass through the wire.
If an appliance draws more current than the wire is rated to carry, the heat may cause the insulation to melt, leading to an electrical fire. This is why you are encouraged to ensure that the gauge of the wire matches the ampacity of your circuit.
Where 60 amp wire size is concerned, 4-gauge should be your first option. 6-gauge wires are compatible with 60 amps. But 4-gauge is safer, especially if you want your circuit to support heavy appliances like large electric heaters, and particularly in cases where you are expected to cover over a hundred feet.
The length matters. It will affect the voltage drop. With a 4-gauge wire, you can keep the voltage drop within the code limits.