What gage wire should I use?

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Old 02-09-06, 02:26 AM
ih82w8's Avatar
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Question What gage wire should I use?

So I have read and heard that for a 3 prong outlet you should use 12 gage not 14 gage wire. If this is the case though why do manufactures make most 3 prong outlets with quick connects that only accept 14 gage wire. So basically my question is should I use the 14 gage and if so then should I use the quick connects or would 12 gage and the side screws be a better way to go?

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Old 02-09-06, 04:36 AM
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Originally Posted by ih82w8
So I have read and heard that for a 3-prong outlet you should use 12 gage not 14 gage wire.
Where did you read this?



If this is the case though why do manufactures make most 3 prong outlets with quick connects that only accept 14 gage wire.
Keep reading and you will learn that none of us uses the backstabs.




So basically my question is should I use the 14 gage
No. If you don't know when it can be used safely, do not use it at all.



should I use the quick connects
No. The connectors that actually tighten and release by the screw are fine.
Otherwise, make a loop around the screw.
You can use an ear on the receptacle to build the loop. I use a Klein electrician's screwdriver.


would 12 gage and the side screws be a better way to go?
Yes. Even better are spec grade receptacles that have a pressure clamp and do not require looping the wire at all.

Btw, they are better quality on the front too.
 
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Old 02-09-06, 04:36 AM
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Originally Posted by ih82w8
So I have read and heard that for a 3 prong outlet you should use 12 gage not 14 gage wire.
I don't know where you read this, but it's nonsense.

The wire size is determined by the over current protection, that is by the fuse or circuit breaker. 15 amp circuits require a minimum wire size of 14 gage. 20 amp circuits require a minimum wire size of 12 gage.

If you are installing a new circuit for general purpose use, then you can make it either a 15 amp or a 20 amp circuit. If the circuit is for a bathroom, kitchen counter top or laundry then it must be 20 amp. I would suggest only 20 amp circuits for receptacles, regardless of where they are located.

If you are extending a circuit then use the same size wire as the rest of the circuit.

Don't use the back stab quick connects. They have a tendency to fail over time and you end with an open circuit. Use thew screw terminals instead.
 
  #4  
Old 02-09-06, 04:50 AM
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Is it possible you confused the terminology? There is a receptacle with two vertical prongs and a horizontal prong perpendicular to the left vertical. Maybe someone referred to that as a 3 prong? That's a 20 amp receptacle and should only be used with 12 gauge wire, never 14 gauge.
 
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