||11-28-2012 06:42 PM
Originally Posted by chuck2112
So are you saying that the source power isn't the factor here, it's the load that is important and smaller conductors aren't affected simply because of the small load? So for this example, my max load with a 16 ga cord is about 1200 watts?
First, it is probably a 15 or 20 amp circuit. No such thing as a 12 amp circuit in a house. To ease the pain, I will follow this with a smiley face :)
Christmas lights usually only draw about 1-2 amps, and that's a lot of lights on one cord.
A 16 gauge cord under 25ft can handle about 1,250 watt comfortably and safely. As the length grows, the capacity becomes smaller due to resistance and heat buildup (this is why fires start).
You can plug a 16 gauge cord into a 200amp outlet (doesn't exist) with no load plugged in. It wouldn't do a thing, that is, until you started drawing a load. What matters is what you plug into it and how much it draws.
It is ideal though to have wiring protected as much as possible. Personally I thing no cords should be made smaller than 14 gauge, which is 15 amps. Usually the smallest circuit allowed in a house. Or at least have built in permanent 10-12a fuses in smaller 16ga cords, since many people tend to overload them.