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Can 14 Gauge Handle 20 Amps? (Answered)

Concerned that your 14 gauge wire won’t be able to handle the load of a 20 amp circuit? We have researched this topic and have come up with a few tips that will help you avoid any problems. 

So whether you’re just getting started in home wiring or you’ve been doing it for years, we’ve got you covered. 

Can 14 Gauge Handle 20 Amps?

In general, 14 gauge wire is considered to be a heavier gauge wire, so it is capable of handling 20 amps. However, You can not use 14 gauge wire at 20 amps, as it is not recommended. Ideally, you should use a gauge of 16 or greater for the most secure connection.

You must use the correct gauge of wire when installing a 20 amp circuit. It is not recommended to use 14 gauge wire for 20 amp circuits as it will be unable to handle the load. Instead, use 16 or 18 Gauge wire for a 20 amp circuit. 

In addition, you should also verify that your tools and equipment are rated for the appropriate current rating. You may need to upgrade them if they aren’t.

How many amps can a 14 gauge wire handle?

Generally, 14 gauge wire can handle up to 20 amps. Furthermore, 14 gauge wire is often rated for 18 amps, which means it can handle up to 20 amps. Depending on the grade of the cable, 14 gauge wire can accommodate one to three wires per breaker. 

A 15 amp circuit can support 45 volts, while a 16 gauge (lower wattage) is safe to use with a 30 amp circuit. Most people assume that breakers have a 10-amp rating, but this is not always the case. You should check your circuit breaker before wiring to make sure it can handle the current.

What gauge do I need for 20 amps?

You will need 16 gauge wire if your circuit is rated for 20 amps. 14 gauge wire can be used if your circuit is not rated for 20 amperes. 16 or 18 gauge wire is the safest wire gauge for 20 amp circuits. The current load may be too great for 14 Gauge, resulting in an electrical fire.

However, this does not mean 14 Gauge wire is unsafe to use. On the contrary, it is very safe. When a 16 or 18 gauge cable can be used to safely transfer power from the 20 amp breaker box switch (and output receptacle at the circuit panel). 

Because, an inferior grade of cable is more dangerous.

5 reasons why 14 gauge cannot handle 20 amps

Wire of 14 gauge is commonly used for 20 amps. However, they are unsafe. Below are some reasons why 14 gauge cannot handle 20 amps.

14 Gauge wire has a lower ampacity than 16 and 18 gauge wiring:

A 14 gauge wire has an ampacity that falls between 16 gauge and 18 gauge wiring. 14 Gauge is not as strong as either of these two gauges, so it cannot handle the same load. The 14 gauge wire may be able to support 18 amps, but 20 amps are too much for it. 

Typically, 14-gauge wire is rated at 18 amps. In contrast, if you have a 20 amp circuit, the wire will only be able to handle 14 amps in total. The higher the current load, the more likely you will see sparks or flames on your electrical wires.

Wires can overheat:

Overheating can occur in the wire if the load is not properly supported. This could lead to a fire. It is important to note that 14 gauge wires are not as strong as 16 and 18 gauge wires, so they may not be able to withstand an overly large amount of current. 

If you have a 20 amp circuit and you are using 14 gauge cables for your power cables, it might create problems when attempting to transfer this much power from the breaker box switch.

High currents may be too much for wires:

Wires of 14 gauge may not be able to handle such a high current draw because of their insulation. This can result in the wire heating up and potentially causing a fire. 

You could have sparks or flames when transferring power from your breaker box switch if you have a 20 amp circuit and use 14 gauge wiring.

Electric sparks:

When wiring is installed or used improperly, electric sparks are more likely to occur. Sparks from these devices can cause fires, as well as injury if they come into contact with people. 

There is a greater risk of seeing sparks and flames when you try to turn on your appliances when you are using 14 gauge wire in a 20 amp circuit.

The wire may melt:

In an overloaded situation, the plastic insulation on 14 gauge wire may melt or blister. It can also cause electrical fluids to spread throughout your home, potentially causing a fire. 

You must take precautions to avoid overloading your wiring when using this type of wiring in a 20 amp circuit.

What wire do I use for a 20 amp circuit?

If you are planning to find a suitable wire for the 20 amp circuit, here are some guidelines for you.

Thicker wire is better:

You should use thicker wires such as 18 or 16 gauge if you plan to use any wire in a 20 amp circuit. Wires of this type will be stronger and can handle high current requirements without causing any fires or electrical problems. 

In a 20 amp circuit, use a thicker wire, such as 18 or 16 gauge. Maintain proper wiring techniques to support the load and avoid overloading.

Guidelines for wiring:

If you are using thicker wire in a 20 amp circuit, make sure you follow specific wiring guidelines for this type of circuit. Wires and connectors must be properly connected, and there needs to be adequate clearance around electrical fixtures. 

Working with 14 gauge wire in a 20 amp circuit involves several risks, so be aware of them and take precautions when installing or using this type of wiring.

18 gauge is the safest:

When you use 18 gauge wires in a 20 amp circuit, there is not as much risk of overload or damage as when you use 14 gauge wires. This type of wiring can handle the current requirements of a 20 amp circuit without any major issues. 

When installing or using this type of wiring, make sure you use the proper connectors and wires as well as ensure there is enough clearance around electrical fixtures.

How to calculate the wire gauge for power?

The wire gauge for power will vary depending on your installation and needs. It is possible to determine the correct wire gauge for your project, however, by using a few simple calculations.

Multiply the amps by:

Multiply the amperage in your circuit by the voltage required by that particular circuit. Using this calculation, you’ll be able to determine how much current your wires can handle. For example, a 20 amp circuit requiring 120 volts will require 2 amps of power.

A 10 amp circuit requiring 120 volts will need 1 amp of power.

Wire wrap size:

Having determined your wire wrap tools’ size, you can proceed to the next step. The larger the diameter of the wire you’re using, the bigger those tools must be to accommodate it properly. In general, a wire wrap tool made for 16 gauge wire will be appropriate for 14 gauge wire.

Calculate clearance:

Finally, you’ll need to calculate the necessary clearance around your electrical fixtures to avoid any possible damage. In general, you’ll want at least 2 inches of clearance between each fixture and the wires on either side of it.


So, for a 20 amp circuit requiring 120 volts and using a 14 gauge wire, the calculations would look like this:

2 amps x 120 volts = 240 watts

1 inch of clearance x 2 inches = 4 inches

14 gauge wire wrap tool + 4-inch clearance = 16 gauge wire wrap tool.

Final Thoughts

Last but not least, a 14 gauge wire can handle up to 20 amps of current but is not suitable for connection. However, it is always recommended to use the correct wire size for your project to avoid problems down the road. However, you will still need a 16 gauge wire wrap tool to wrap a 14 gauge wire.