Wire Size

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Old 05-09-09, 06:07 PM
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Wire Size

Bought some 14 AWG Romex a while back. While wiring I got the feeling that the wires were not as thick as I was used to. When I compared to some 14 AWG Romex I still had in the garage, I could tell just by looking at it that the newer Romex conductors were thinner than the older ones. Are the smaller conductors still approved, and why does it say 14 AWG when they are definitely smaller?
 
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Old 05-09-09, 07:32 PM
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You have to look at the conductor not the insulation. Newer insulation is better therefore doesn't have to be as thick.
 
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Old 05-09-09, 08:11 PM
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I certainly looked at the conductors, not the insulation, which does not carry any current.
 
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Old 05-09-09, 08:13 PM
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perhaps what you originally had was 12. 14 gauge is 14 gauge
 
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Old 05-09-09, 09:16 PM
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I do remember reading a thread on another forum wherein it was discussed older 14awg wire was in fact thicker than today. I think it had to do with the metal alloy that used to be used. I will try to find it...
 
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Old 05-09-09, 10:51 PM
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What I originally had was 14 AWG, which is what is clearly stamped on the Romex jacket; a 12 AWG is much thicker and is stamped with 12 AWG, not 14 AWG.
 
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Old 05-10-09, 08:08 AM
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The American wire gauge standard has not changed. A #14 wire from the past is the same size as a #14 from today.
 
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Old 05-10-09, 08:36 AM
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Old 05-10-09, 09:02 AM
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One possibility (and I'm just speculating) is that "14 AWG" is a *minimum* size, and a manufacturer in the past may have found that making it a little oversize made up for looser manufacturing tolerances, meaning fewer failed quality checks and associated issues. But then, with the price of copper heading up and high-spec manufacturing equipment becoming more common, more recent economics may have meant that investing in better equipment to tighten the tolerances was worth the investment. If this is right, then your new wire should be 14 AWB and the old wire should be a bit bigger.
 
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Old 05-10-09, 09:51 AM
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I vote for RichA's explanation.
 
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Old 05-10-09, 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by hukre View Post
What I originally had was 14 AWG, which is what is clearly stamped on the Romex jacket; a 12 AWG is much thicker and is stamped with 12 AWG, not 14 AWG.
The actual cross sectional area that AWG #14 has not changed. According to you the wire in one was thicker, did you measure this? How can you be sure? What tools did you use to accurately measure the cross sectional area of the wire to determine the differences in wire gauge?
 
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Old 05-12-09, 10:51 PM
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Thanks to all who took the time to send in a reply. I will look into measuring the different conductors with a precision micrometer (unfortunately I don't have one myself) and let you know the results.
 
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Old 05-13-09, 09:35 AM
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Some months ago, I measure with dial calipers my 53 year old romex in the house to brand new southwire. The copper was within .001", the insulation today was close to 1/2 the thickness of the old. These days, the trend is to use a nylon thin jacket over PVC, I believe to increase the cut-thru resistance.
 
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Old 05-13-09, 09:52 AM
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Solid #14 wire diameter should be at least 0.0641 inches (1.628 mm). I don't know what the acceptable manufacturing tolerances are to still meet code, but my guess is that one of your pieces is on the low side of tolerance and one is on the high side.
 
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Old 05-13-09, 04:07 PM
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Was able to have the conductors measured. All three are about .053" diameter, which is closer to a 16 AWG than a 14 AWG. I just hope they don't overheat.
The following is what is printed on the Romex jacket (just in case someone may think I measured some other type of wire): "ESSEXEP.COM 14-2G NON-METALLIC SHEATHED CABLE TYPE NM-B 600V E10816A (UL) 12 JAN 2005 00:54 E1"
 
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Old 05-13-09, 04:18 PM
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Made in China? I have had a lot of trouble with smaller than spec things from China such as galvanized pipe fittings that wouldn't hold water and alleged 8-32 machine screws that just pulled out of a standard 8-32 threaded hole. Once went to install a Chinese made door bell transformer with a " conduit nipple and after threading on the conduit nut it just fell off the nipple was so under sized.
 
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Old 05-13-09, 06:26 PM
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That wire is dangerous..

Hukre; I would say several agencies would be interested in this finding. Namely, US customs, UL, and Product Safety.
 
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Old 05-14-09, 12:28 PM
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If this is solid, not stranded, wire then you don't need to buy a micrometer to see if there is a difference in thickness.

Lay two short, stripped, straight lengths of wires next to each other, say 2 or 3 inches apart. Place a ruler on top of the wires, holding it so the straight-edge touches against the wires. Is one end of the ruler noticeably higher off the table then the other? If yes, the wire diameters are significantly different.
 
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Old 05-28-09, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
I second these wires. I purchased the same ones a few weeks ago and they work great!
 
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