Whether you’re working on a small DIY project or an electrical wiring job for your home, office or business, it is important to choose the right wire gauge. Wires come in a variety of sizes, each designed for different applications, and the gauge of a wire determines how much current it can safely carry. It’s easy to see how a thin wire can melt when trying to run a high-amperage circuit through it.
The size of a wire is determined by its American Wire Gauge (AWG) number, a system that measures the diameters and cross-sectional areas of round solid conductors. AWG numbers range from 36 to 0000, and each step down the chart corresponds with a smaller wire diameter. There is a direct relationship between the wire gauge number and the wire’s diameter; a wire with a lower AWG number has a thicker diameter than a larger wire with the same AWG number.
Aside from determining the current-carrying capacity of solid conductors, wire gauge is also used to classify the quality of electric wires, as higher-quality wires are designed to suppress resistance and support an improved transmission of electrons. The AWG number is also an important factor when determining the type of wire that’s best suited for a particular application, as a wire with too high a rated amperage will become extremely hot and may even melt if overloaded.
It’s possible to estimate the AWG number of a cable by measuring its diameter, but you should be sure that electricity is turned off before proceeding. To get an accurate measurement, cut a section of the wire and use a ruler to measure the cross-sectional area. Be sure to take the measurement without including the insulation, as this will give you a more accurate representation of its actual size.
You can also find the AWG size of a wire by looking at it or by using a wire gauge chart. If you don’t have a chart available, you can manually calculate the AWG by using the diameter of the wire and a simple formula. First, measure the wire’s diameter in inches. Then, divide the result by the AWG number.
If you’re not familiar with the AWG wire gauge chart, it can be confusing to read. The best way to understand it is to compare the chart with a real-life example. For instance, if you’re installing a central air conditioning unit in your home, you should select a wire with an AWG number of 16 or higher. This will ensure that the unit’s main wire can handle a sufficient amount of current without overheating. It’s important to keep in mind that wires with a higher AWG number have thinner diameters, so they can’t carry as much amperage as those with a smaller AWG number. Aside from that, the wires with a thinner diameter are better suited for lighter applications. For heavier applications, it’s better to choose a thicker wire. This will save you money and prevent electrical fires in your home or workplace.