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Old 03-06-2010, 09:02 PM   #1
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14/2 vs. 12/2 questions


Hey gang,

I know that you have to run 12/2 wiring for 20A circuits, but the question if have is whether you need it for everything on that circuit. I have a bathroom and am literally 1' short on 12/2 wiring to go from a switch to the exhaust fan. The fan will not draw 20A (obviously), so I would think that I could just as well use some 14/2 as I have plenty of that left over from my basement project here.

Is that OK per code? I would think so, but figured I would ask you guys.

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Old 03-06-2010, 09:07 PM   #2
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14/2 vs. 12/2 questions


NO, 14/2 can't be installed on a 20a circuit

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Old 03-06-2010, 09:15 PM   #3
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14/2 vs. 12/2 questions


OK. I'll have to go buy some more 12/2 then. Out of curiosity, why would that be? I understand that the 12/2 is to handle the extra amperage, but on that one branch the amperage draw would be what....an amp maybe? Is it that way so as to eliminate any confusion or something....kind of an "all or nothing" gig just so you know what you're dealing with?

By the way Scuba, I really appreciate your help. You've given me lots of advice, either directly or indirectly via reading your other posts. Much appreciated man!
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Old 03-06-2010, 09:35 PM   #4
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14/2 vs. 12/2 questions


I can't cite the specific reason...other then 14g is only rated for 15a and 20a circuits must use 12g

But- I think...you may only install something that draws a lot less then 15a
Then the next person installs something that takes more
Or they extend the circuit...and based on the 14g wire they use 14g
Ideally anyone else should see that 14g wire & only install devices based on that

It just doesn't meet code

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Old 03-06-2010, 09:35 PM   #5
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14/2 vs. 12/2 questions


so, what would happen if you tied more onto that branch of the circuit. Maybe even put on enough that would over load a #14 wire?

HHHmmmm???


While safety wise right now there would be no problem, who is to say what happens in the future?

So, you just limit a 20 amp circuit to a #12 wire. Just makes it easier and better over all.

besides that, code says that is how it needs to be.
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Old 03-06-2010, 09:46 PM   #6
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14/2 vs. 12/2 questions


Good point about the extension of the circuit down the road.

Mind you, I wasn't trying to get around things or anything, but rather just trying to understand the logic as to why. You just proved why...didn't think about the extension aspect.

I'm not one to just do because I'm told to do...I want to know the "why" behind the direction to do something.

Thanks for the input fellas!
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Old 03-06-2010, 09:55 PM   #7
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Yeah...you can't prevent every future modification
But the code tries to prevent as much as it can
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Old 03-06-2010, 11:52 PM   #8
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14/2 vs. 12/2 questions


As a residential service electrician, whenever I encounter #14 wire on a 20a breaker, I immediately downsize the breaker as required by the NEC. Often I don't have any idea (or even care) how the rest of the circuit is wired or what loads it might serve.

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