Electrical wires are not the same. The size is vital because it affects the current capacity of the wire and the kinds of appliances it can run.
What Size Wire For 220V?
The best wire size for 220v is 10AWG.
But what does that mean for you? Can you rely on 10AWG wires for your220V power supply? No, 10-gauge wires are not the answer. If you don’t understand voltage and its relationship with wire size, this is what you should know:
1). 110V VS 220V
If you ask a layperson about the best wire size for 220V, they will automatically assume that 220V is different from 110V. They will also conclude that 110V uses different wire sizes from 220V. But that is not true.
At their core, 110V and 220V achieve similar objectives. They will transmit the current you need to operate the appliances in your home. 220V systems are seemingly better because they enable consumers to perform the same tasks using less current.
But before you elevate 220V over 110V, you need to realize that 220V is more dangerous than 110V. 220V delivers a higher current which is more likely to kill you than 110V systems.
As far as the average electrician is concerned, 110V is safer to work with than 220V. Most homes in the US rely on 110V. However, they have access to 220V. They use 220V to run heavy items like power tools and dryers.
Whether you prefer 110V or 220V, the wire size doesn’t change.
You can apply the wire sizes from a 110V system to a 220V system. For example. The 12-gauge wire you find in a 220V 20-amp power tool will work on a 20A 110V device.
110V and 220V systems have different outlets. But the wiring is unlikely to change.
Related Post: 110 Vs 120 Outlet
2). Amps VS Volts
Air Compressors USA has a page that shows consumers the correct wire size to use for a 220V air compressor. Their guidance is interesting because they expect readers to buy 10AWG wire for a 30A air compressor.
This Conquer All Electrical page wants consumers to use a 6-gauge wire (aluminum) and 8-gauge wire (copper) for ovens with ratings as high as 30 amps.
These two examples reveal a significant factor. The amperage, not the voltage, determines the wire size. The voltage plays an important role, but it is not the primary variable.
The voltage doesn’t affect the wire size. You cannot determine the wire size of 220V unless you know the amps.
Electricians calculate the amps using this equation:
Amps = Watts/Volts.
Without the amperage or wattage, you have no means of identifying the wire size.
Ehow has cemented this point even further by detailing the following steps for calculating 220V wire size:
- Figure out the number of watts that will run through the wire. Every appliance has a label revealing the wattage. If yours doesn’t have one, call the manufacturer. Once you send them the serial number, they will identify the wattage.
- Divide the wattage by the voltage (220V). This will give you the volume of amps you can expect the appliance to consume.
- Find a table like the ones the NEC has published. Find the amp rating you recorded and look at the associated rows to determine the gauge the NEC expects people to pair with amp ratings like the one you calculated.
Finding the wire size is straightforward, but only if you know the amperage. If you don’t have a particular appliance in mind, you can use the amp rating of a circuit to find the corresponding wire gauge in an NEC table.
If someone reveals the wire gauge of a particular 220V system, they reached that answer after finding the amperage.
3). Voltage Drop
RES Supply has published an equation that people can use to identify the wire size. But first, you must calculate the voltage drop index using this formula:
Voltage Drop Index = Amps x Feet / (% Voltage Drop x Voltage).
RE Supply has a table that shows the appropriate wire size and ampacity for each voltage drop index. Once you calculate the voltage drop index, you can use their table to locate the proper wire size.
4). Voltage VS Insulation
You cannot use the voltage to identify the wire size. You need the amps. The voltage matters to the insulation. If the voltage increases, the thickness of the insulation will also increase. Otherwise, you risk arcing.
Does The Wire Size Change With The Amp?
The amp rating will show you the amount of current that can pass through a conductor. It affects the gauge. The gauge determines the current-carrying capacity of a wire. The higher the ampacity, the larger the diameter of a wire.
You can confirm this trend by looking at an NEC table.
You determine the gauge by identifying the ampacity and looking at its corresponding wire sizes at various temperatures in an NEC table (Article 310).
If you look at the NEC’s tables, you will realize that the wire size grows with the ampacity. You have to understand the relationship between the wire size and ampacity because it can save your life.
If you connect thin wires to a circuit with a large ampacity, the current will cause the wires to overheat. You could melt them. In the worst-case scenario, the cables will start a fire.
You can blame this occurrence on the resistance. Thin wires have higher resistance than thick wires. As a result, they generate more heat, especially when you force them to carry electricity in volumes that exceed their capacity.
Using the NEC tables to find the correct wire size for the amperage, you can prevent accidents.
|Amps||Distance||Copper Wire Gauge|
|220V 15A||80 ft||14 AWG|
|220V 20A||80 ft||12 AWG|
|220V 30A||80 ft||10 AWG|
|220V 40A||80 ft||8 AWG|
|220V 50A||80 ft||6 AWG|
|220V 60A||80 ft||4 AWG|
|220V 100A||80 ft||1 AWG|
Does The Wire Size Change With Appliances?
The wire size changes with heavy-duty appliances. The term ‘Heavy-Duty’ refers to the energy consumption of a device. Appliances can be low, medium, and heavy-duty.
Heavy-duty devices are the most dangerous because they use massive amounts of electricity. This makes them a threat because they can easily overwhelm a circuit and its wires, introducing electrocution and fire hazards.
You can tell that a device is heavy-duty because it has a high ampacity. To protect your home, you must increase the size of the wire. Thicker wires can transmit more current than their thinner counterparts.
The gauge will show you the wire size. The smallest numbers represent the thickest wires. For instance. A 4-gauge wire is extremely thick. On the other hand, an 18AWG conductor is significantly thin.
If you cannot determine the appropriate wire size for an appliance, look at the power cord that came with the device. Manufacturers arm the equipment they make with power cords whose size can withstand the considerable current the appliance uses. The size of the power cord should guide your selection.
Better yet, find the appliance’s wattage and use it to calculate the amperage. Compare the amperage to the information in an NEC table to find the relevant gauge.
|Welder||6 – 12AWG|
|Oven||6 – 12AWG|
|Hot Water Heater||6 – 14AWG|
|Dryer||8 – 10AWG|
|Plasma Cutter||6 – 10AWG|
|Stove||6 – 8AWG|
The wattage of each appliance will determine the wire gauge you should use.
Distance VS 220V – How Far Can You Run The Wire?
The best gauge is the wire size that fits your application. Some people require the thickest wires for their 220V systems. Others can get by with thinner conductors. The task at hand will determine the wire size.
If you look at the table learning-about-electronics has published, you will notice that it shows the wire gauge, amps, and ohms per 1000 feet. This is because the resistance increases with the length.
Longer wires have more resistance than shorter cables. This is why they are more likely to overheat. If you want to reduce the voltage drop, you must increase the gauge of any line that has to cover a long distance.
For example, 8AWG conductors are perfect for 76 feet. But if you raise the distance to 94 feet, you are better off relying on 6AWG lines.
Simply put, the longer the length of a cable in a 220V system, the thicker the conductors required.
Is 10, 10/2, 10/3, 12, 12/3 Gauge Wire Compatible for 220V
Compatibility, in this case, will depend on the load, not the voltage. Keep this in mind before you make your selection.