Electrical Wires & Breaker Sizes

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The type of electrical wire that you need to use is directly related to the size of the breaker that you're working with. Find out about electrical wires and breaker sizes with help from a longtime electrical contractor in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Electrical Solutions
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm George Argo with Argo Electrical Services, and I am the surge protector guy. Today, we're going to talk about wire size and electrical breakers. What I have here is a number 10 stranded THNN wire. Here is a 12/3 SO cord. I've got a direct burial number 12, it's a 12/2, it's actually got a hot and neutral and a ground wire. This is a 12, excuse me this is a 14/3, this is a 12/3, a 10/3 and then this is actually an aluminum wire, a number 8. Now, in Romex residential wiring, today all the white wire is going to be a number 14, all the number 12 wire is going to be yellow and all the number 10 wire is going to be orange. When you get into larger wires, the number 8, the number 6, the number 4 wire, there should be somewhere on your wire with all of this, there should be a marking somewhere to where you can actually read the size, like right here it says 600 volts, 12/3 with ground, UL operator 3, that's who made the wire. Now, I have here a 20 amp single pole circuit breaker, here's a 15 amp, single pole circuit breaker. This is a 60 amp two pole breaker and this is a 50 amp two pole breaker. Now if you are unsure about which breaker goes with what wire you can look it up. You could also ask your guy at your hardware store should be able to tell you. I as an electrician know that for 15 amp wire which is a number 14 I would use the white 14 wire. For a 20 amp, I would use the number 12, the number 10 would be good for 30 amps, the 8 would be good for 40, a 6 is good for 50 and a number 4 or excuse me a number 2 would be good for 60 amps. Like I say if you are unsure you can always up size the wire, go large with the wire but you can never up size the breaker. Once again, I'm George Argo with Argo Electrical Services, and I am the surge protector guy and you just watched electrical wire sizes and breakers.


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