How to Size a Wire for a 5-Amp Circuit


A five-ampere circuit is relatively low and is likely to be used to connect electrical items, such as lamps and other low-powered appliances. Getting the correct wire size is important. If the wire is too small, the current flowing through the wire will heat up the wire and the plastic covering could melt or catch fire. If the wire is too thick, the electrical resistance in the wire will impede the current, meaning that your electrical item may not operate correctly.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Calculator
  • Measure the length of the five-ampere circuit using a tape measure. This is the distance between the electrical outlet and the electrical item.

  • Round up the figure and add a couple of feet. Double the result and use a calculator if necessary.

  • Make a mental note of the figure you've calculated. The wire gauge you need up to 100 feet begins with 15 feet or less, in which you would use American Wire Gauge (AWG) 16. Between 16 and 25 feet, use AWG 14. Between 26 and 40 feet, use AWG 12. For a five-ampere circuit between 41 and 70 feet, AWG 10 needs to be used, then up to about 100 feet, use AWG 8.

Tips & Warnings

  • If the distance is greater than 100 feet, then check with your electrical store to make sure you get the correct AWG.

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  • Photo Credit Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
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