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Thread: #12 or #14 wire

  1. #1
    DIY Member gfe76's Avatar
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    Default #12 or #14 wire

    I live in atlanta. house is 4 BR with 150 amp service. oven, hotwater heater and furnace are gas; dryer is electric. I have to run several 110 outlets to garage, back patio, front porch and basement. Should I run #12 (20 amp breakers) or #14 wire(15 amp breakers). Most of these outlets will rarely be used at the same time, but on occasion they might be.
    I know I need to upgrade to a 200 amp svc, but trying to avoid that expense. thx

  2. #2

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    14 is all that would be required. I'd recommend 12 for the garage, though, as the words 'Power Tools" comes to mind. Table saw, air compressor, ShopVac, drill press.... all can use a lot of power and you don't want to skimp in that area.
    But for the basement, porch and patio, you can get by with 14 on a 15amp circiut.

    As for your service, unless you have a noticable problem with a lack of power (ie, the lights dim when the AC comes on, or the main constantly trips), there's no need to upgrade. Spend the money on a table saw, compressor, ShopVac and a drill press instead.
    Just my 2 worth.

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    DIY Member gfe76's Avatar
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    Thanks sparky...I like the way you think!
    I do have an outlet in the tool room in the garage and the small compressor causes the light in that room to dim when it kicks on but that is probably because they are on the same circuit.
    I will run 14 (15 amp cir) except in garage...thanks again...
    I have outlets on the deck above the back patio...any reason I can't run a wire from those outlets to make outlet on patio below? thx

  4. #4

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    No reason you can't. In fact, if you put a GFI in the first location, you can provide GFI protection for the other receptacle(s) by terminating the wire under the "Load" terminals of the GFI. Just make sure you use the same size wire as what feed that outlet.
    Just my 2 worth.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    In most places, a gfci is required for use in the garage, or any outdoor locations. Depending on the equipment involved, there may be exceptions, but for outlets, you need it. It's less expensive to use one gfci and then daisy chain the rest from it on the load side, but you can use a gfci breaker.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default outlets

    What you plug into the outlets determines whether they should be 15 or 20 amps, and the devices you use also determine the amperage of the entrance cables and main breaker, not the amp rating of the outlets.

  7. #7
    DIY Member gfe76's Avatar
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    thanks for everything. I respect electricity. In plumbing if you make a mistake you usually only have a big mess...in electrical if you make a mistake....well you know....that's why I do very little DIY electrical and I will probably hire an electrician to do this as well. I just want to be a little educated in the matter.

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    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    Since you never know for sure what you might need in the future, why just "get by" with 14 gauge? Sure, copper wire is an arm and leg now, but the extra expense will soon be forgotten and it's a good feeling to know you have enough capacity to do almost anything that uses 120V.

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    Sprinkler Guy Wet_Boots's Avatar
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    Echo using the 12, and 20A CB and receptacles in the garage. One useful layout technique is to have the lighting on its own circuit, so a breaker trip from an overload doesn't leave you in the dark.

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    Electrical Contractor jbfan74's Avatar
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    Be aware some parts of the ATL metro area do not allow #14 wire to be used at all.
    Call the building department to be sure.
    Yes I am A Pirate-Jimmy Buffett

  11. #11
    DIY Member gfe76's Avatar
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    All good idea...I'll use them....thanks again.

  12. #12
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wet_Boots
    Echo using the 12, and 20A CB and receptacles in the garage. One useful layout technique is to have the lighting on its own circuit, so a breaker trip from an overload doesn't leave you in the dark.
    Spent several hours and lots of money making sure that the lights and receptacles in the same room were on different breakers so if the breaker tripped the room wouldn't be dark.

    Two different things happened that let me know just how silly I was to waste all that money and time.

    The only breaker that tripped was the one supplying the light and left me in the dark.

    and

    The power company lost power due to an ice storm and again I was left in the dark.

    From that time on I quit wasting my money and time trying to keep a light burning so I wouldn't be in the dark and let those that think that keeping the two separate believe what their heart disire.

  13. #13
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    When I think lights, I think hard-wired fixtures. Unless say a transformer in a florescent fixture died, I would not expect a lighting circuit to overload, so from a non-pro viewpoint, I don't agree. If that lighting circuit also contained outlets, then you could easily overload it. If it overloaded with lights only, somebody screwed up or you had an equipment failure.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  14. #14
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua
    When I think lights, I think hard-wired fixtures. Unless say a transformer in a florescent fixture died,
    When I think of a lighting circuit I think about any and all circuits through the house that are not an appliance circuit or one of the circuits outlined in 210.11(C)

    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua
    I would not expect a lighting circuit to overload, so from a non-pro viewpoint, I don't agree.
    So are you saying that you expect all the other circuits to overload? This would not be a very good design, would it?

    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua
    If that lighting circuit also contained outlets, then you could easily overload it.
    Do you not realize that the light itself is at an outlet? I think that you are confusing an outlet and a receptacle. The light is a lighting “outlet” and the receptacle is a receptacle “outlet”

    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua
    If it overloaded with lights only, somebody screwed up or you had an equipment failure.
    If any circuit tripped due to an overload it would be due to someone screwing up would it not?

    Of course it would be better if when we entered a room we turned on the overhead light, a table lamp that is on a separate circuit and also had an emergency battery back-up light just in case both of these circuits opened at the same time. Personally I carry a dual AAA battery Mag light in my pocket just in case the emergency back-up light has a dead battery.

    I am sure that at least 99% of the members on this forum turn on two lights from different circuits every time they enter a room and at least 80% of the members carry a flashlight just in case they forget.

  15. #15
    Sprinkler Guy Wet_Boots's Avatar
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    So, what blew the CB on the lighting circuit?

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