What is the Difference Between A 12/2 Wire And A 14/2 Wire?

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What is the Difference Between A 12-2 Wire And A 14-2 Wire?

The wiring or cable system is an integral part of modern society—it is a medium that connects a household to electric companies that powers our home, public places, and commercial establishments. However, as we know, wires are not exactly all the same.

Each wire, such as the 12-2 and 14-2 wires, has unique features and serves various purposes. So how can you tell the difference between a 12-2 and a 14-2?

You can generally distinguish 12-2 from 14-2 by referring to the conductors of the wires—12-2 has two conductors and can transmit an average of 20 amps, while 14-2 also has two conductors. Still, it can only transmit an average of 15 amps.

I will provide more details about the wires in this article and help you better understand their purposes.

What Is 14/2 Wire Used For?

SOUTHWIRE COMPANY #28827455 250' 14/2 W/G NM Cable

14/2 wire

The 14-2 is ideal for simple wiring systems such as general lighting of the premises and electrical outlets where you plug and power the appliances and other electrical devices that consume less power. It has two conductors but can only transmit 15 amps of electricity from the main source to the power outlet.

The general purpose of 14-2 wires is to accommodate low-amperage electrical currents. Therefore, a 15 amp circuit breaker can address problems during a short circuit.

In addition, you have to note that a 14 amp wire gauge is inappropriate in a 20 amp breaker. However, if you use a 15 amp wire gauge for a 20 amp circuit, you can still use a 20 amp circuit breaker by screwing the main and side terminals. And do not screw the backstab terminals.

What Is 12/2 Wire Used For?

Southwire 28828228 100' 12/2 with ground Romex brand SIMpull residential indoor electricial wire type NM-B, Yellow

12/2 wire

Like a 14-2 wire, a 12/2 wire has two conductors. But 12/2 wires are superior because they can transmit about 20 amps. A 12/2 wire is more suitable for electrical systems and electronic apparatuses that require high power consumption.

The 12/2 wire is more than ideal for the general lighting system of a home or establishment. In addition, they are more capable of carrying power to electronics like refrigerators, television sets, desktop computer setups, etc.

However, the problem with a 12/2 wire is it could lead to higher monthly electrical bills. But they are worth it, especially if you have a large household with demanding power consumption.

But it is worth putting your into because a 12/2 wire is a better conductor, which means that you’ll have less likelihood of power shortage when transmitting power from your appliances and service panels.

What Are The Differences Between 14/2 and 12/2 Wires?

The summary of the major difference between 14/2 and 12/2 wires that you have to note are as follows.

14/2 Electrical Wiring System

  • It is capable of transmitting an average of 15 amps
  • It has two conductors, but the wire is thinner and weaker than a 12/2 wire
  • The wire has a diameter of about 1.63mm
  • The wire is mostly for general lighting purposes

12/2 Electrical Wiring System

  • It is capable of transmitting an average of 20 amps
  • It also has two conductors, but it is thicker and stronger than a 14/2 wire
  • The wire has a diameter of about 2.05mm
  • The wire can handle high power demands from appliances and other electronic apparatuses.

Should I Use 14/2 or 12/2 Wire?

12/2 wire is more expensive than 14/2, but it is worthwhile. And this is the case for the most obvious reasons—12/2 wire is superior to 14/2 in every aspect.

12/2 wire is a lot thicker and stronger. It is very reliable against wear and tear, easing the necessity for regular maintenance or even repairs.

12/2 Wire

The wire system can also handle electronic systems with high power demand. And this comes in handy for homes that consume high electricity. It also means less loss for your home’s fixtures and service panels.

Although there’s not much of an advantage in installing a 14-2 wiring system, it is still the perfect option if you use it in a small area and purpose it for lighting the space.

Is It OK To Mix 12 And 14 Gauge Wire?

The good news is that you can mix a 14 gauge wire with a 12 gauge wire in a single circuit. However, it is not preferable, and it is better to stick with a consistent wiring system.

If you prefer this kind of setup, you must be careful and properly install them to avoid any electrical problems in the future.

And they’re not a good idea because the homeowner or electrician tinkering with the circuits may mistake them for one another. Although the 14 gauge wire is thicker, it is not that much.

And people fixing or maintaining the circuit may confuse them easily, especially if they are not paying that much attention to the task.

And mistaking them for one another could short-circuit the breakers. A 14 gauge wire has a different breaker size than a 12 gauge wire. 14 gauge wire uses 15 amps, while 12 gauge wire uses 20 amps.

How Many Amps Can 12/2 And 14/2 Wire Handle?

How Many Amps Can 12-2 And 14-2 Wire Handle

14/2 wires have two conductors and can handle about 15 amps. On the other hand, 12/2 wires also have two conductors but can handle the higher voltage, which is 20 amps on average.

Since 14/2 has a very low voltage capability, it is more suitable for electrical systems with low power demand. One good example of using a 14/2 wire is general lighting and powering up small electronic devices.

However, you still can’t overload because of the potential of short-circuiting your power outlet. Overloading the power outlet could cause a fire if you cannot address it immediately. The recommendation is only to allow it to consume 80% of the current capacity, or about 1500 watts.

On the other hand, 12/2 wires are preferable because they can handle more power. In addition, the coating of the wire is thicker and more reliable against heat and cold conditions.

Allan Jason

Allan Jason is the maestro of the hammer and keyboard! With a knack for turning the mundane into the marvelous, Allan's writing transcends the ordinary. Whether wrangling power tools or conquering clashing color schemes, Allan's got a blueprint for turning houses into havens. Follow his witty wisdom, and you'll soon transform your space into a masterpiece, one entertaining blog post at a time. 🏠🛠️✍️

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