How to Estimate Electrical Wire


Gaps between the electrical panel and appliances, found in the home, are bridged using electrical wiring. Commonly made from copper, electrical wires conduct the electricity from a power source in closed loops, which are commonly known as circuits. Selecting wires with the proper sizes and characteristics can greatly reduce the risk of injuries and damage occurring, when working with wiring.

Things You'll Need

  • National Electrical Code book
  • Tape measure
  • Record all factors influencing the selection of electrical wire, such as location and function. Determine the minimum amperage the electrical wire is required to support, by reading the manufacturer's label on the circuit breaker or fuse, located within the electrical panel. Choose the largest amperage rating, to prevent the risk of overloading the wire, which could lead to electrical fires or damage to appliances.

  • Refer to the National Electrical Code book for load carrying capacity tables of wire sizes, otherwise known as wire gauges. Select a wire gauge capable of supporting or exceeding the minimum ampere rating of the circuit breaker or fuse. Read any related regulations or code to ensure no special restrictions apply, such as differences in electrical wire properties used within branch circuits or conduits.

  • Use the tape measure to accurately estimate the length of electrical wire being installed. Include allowances for extra lengths of wire for receptacle and junction boxes. Calculate an additional 10 percent to the total length for waste and mistakes. Allowances within the final measurements can help keep material costs down, by reducing the need to install additional junction boxes in situations where electrical wires are cut too short.

  • Acquire the pricing of the electrical wire, commonly measured in feet or yards, from an electrical reseller or construction material supplier. Specify any special characteristics or insulation required, to guarantee an accurate quote.

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  • Photo Credit wire image by Dmitri MIkitenko from
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