With all the wiring that goes around the house, one can’t help but ask if what they’re using is right. Wires can come in all shapes and sizes, and it can be tricky to figure out the best one for your home. With so many choices, the question now is if there is such a thing as a wire that’s too thick.
There is no such thing as a wire that is too thick. The only way a wire is too thick is if it’s too big for your space (the spaces for the wire). Thicker wires provide less resistance, which entails that more electricity can pass through them. There is no significant benefit to using thicker wires compared to using thinner wires.
With that said, there are still so many questions that homeowners ask when choosing which wires they should buy for their house. Picking the wrong wire can lead to problems down the road, and that’s something we want to avoid. Lucky for you, we’ll be going over all the important details needed.
Before anything else, we first want to explain to you what gauge is. Gauge is used to refer to the thickness of a wire. They’re a standardized unit of measurement for wiring, and each gauge corresponds to a predetermined measurement of a wire’s diameter ( Ex. 14-gauge = 1.6mm).
Take note that the lower the gauge number is, the thicker the wire will be. A 14- gauge wire will be thicker than a 16- gauge wire.
For a home, the standard size of your wires should be 14-gauge and 12-gauge. The gauge of your wires will vary depending on your appliances and fixtures. Thick wires are considered to be around 6-gauge and above. Thicker wires are often used for heavy-duty appliances as they consume more energy, while thinner wires are used for fixtures such as lights.
There is a reason why this is the case; as much as possible, builders want to make a home efficient and want to reduce spending during a project. As such, it’s common to see that most electricians follow the standards already in place in your local electrical code to make sure your electricity needs are met while lowering costs.
Thick wires are considered to be around 6-gauge and above. Thicker wires are often used for heavy-duty appliances as they consume more energy.
We mentioned that at a certain point, the benefits of thicker wire would be less apparent. However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consider installing thicker wire at all. There are numerous benefits to using a thicker wire for your home! Here are the benefits of a thicker wire:
- Thicker wires provide more electricity
More conducting material(Ex. Copper/Aluminum) entails more space for electrons to move around inside your wire. Since electrons can move more freely, thicker wires have lower resistance compared to thinner wires. Having more electricity flowing through your wires can allow homeowners to have more freedom in how they choose to layout their wiring, as lack of electricity being supplied will not be as much of an issue.
Another benefit of this more readily available electricity is increased efficiency for your electrical appliances, which lowers electrical bills. Take note that this benefit will largely depend on how much you use that appliance, how much power it consumes, and other such factors.
- Thicker wires are more durable.
The extra material(Copper and Insulation) can make thicker wires last longer than thinner wires. The extra layer of protection will make your wires much more resistant to tears. There’s a reason why power lines use very thick cables!
- Thicker wires are safer.
This is a big benefit for older homes that don’t have GCFI installed into their electrical system. Thicker wires tend to stay colder than thin wires, which is great as it implies a reduced chance of any of your wires causing a fire when something goes wrong.
These benefits make using a thicker wire something that homeowners should consider when upgrading their homes. The benefits might not be apparent at first, but it adds up in the long term.
The best way to get these benefits for your home is to ask your electrician to install wires that are a bit thicker than usual. You might think that it might be beneficial to stick with very thick wires (like 6-gauge), but this is a wrong impression as we mentioned earlier, the benefits don’t increase as much past a certain point.
The main con of installing thicker wire is the cost. Since you’re working with a higher gauge, you’ll be paying for more material for your wiring needs. Just to give you an idea, the price of 14-gauge wire is around $20 while the price of 6-gauge wire is $60(prices are for 25 feet of wire). You should only choose a thicker wire if you need it.
Aside from that, thicker wires can be harder to work with at times compared to thinner wires. Thinner wires are much easier to shape and can be easily placed than thicker wires since they’re much more flexible.
In most cases, only your hot wire should be the thicker wire for your electrical system, as this is the wire that reaps the most benefit from being thicker. Grounding wires and neutral wires don’t benefit from using thicker wire because they are there to transfer excess electricity to the ground or back to the circuit respectively.
There is no such thing as a wire that is too thick. It comes down to practicality, efficiency, and costs when choosing the thickness of your wire. Thicker wire comes with numerous benefits and cons for your home, and it just boils down to using them appropriately.