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Old 09-23-2010, 01:12 PM   #1
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wire gauge on afco 20a breaker


just installed a 20a cutler hammer CH series AFCI breaker in my house, just noticed that the wire gauge on the breakers pig-tail to the neutral bar is only 14 AWG stranded.

Seems odd to have 14 as part of a 20A breaker, but i know this is acceptable in certain circumstances. Asked 2 home depot electricians and they were perplexed - it was reassuring to have them point out it was a UL listed device. One thought it might be a manufacturing defect, but we opened another in the store and found the same thing.

Any thoughts?

thanks
kevin

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Old 09-23-2010, 02:11 PM   #2
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wire gauge on afco 20a breaker


thats wierd, I just bought a 15 amp GE AFCI breaker and it had 12 gauge stranded wire for the pigtail

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Old 09-23-2010, 02:12 PM   #3
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wire gauge on afco 20a breaker


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Originally Posted by kevinp22 View Post
just installed a 20a cutler hammer CH series AFCI breaker in my house, just noticed that the wire gauge on the breakers pig-tail to the neutral bar is only 14 AWG stranded.

Seems odd to have 14 as part of a 20A breaker, but i know this is acceptable in certain circumstances. Asked 2 home depot electricians and they were perplexed - it was reassuring to have them point out it was a UL listed device. One thought it might be a manufacturing defect, but we opened another in the store and found the same thing.

Any thoughts?

thanks
kevin
Devices that are UL listed / approved do not have to comply with the same standards as everyone else does that needs to follow the NEC. For example, wires in fixtures are often smaller than the gage that the NEC would specify for the circuit they will be installed upon.

It is also such a short wire that even if you put a 20A load on a 14 gage wire that short, it would not be likely to get over the temp rating for that piece of wire.

I am not sure how exactly the AFCI's work and if that wire carries current or if it is more for sensing.
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Old 09-23-2010, 02:15 PM   #4
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wire gauge on afco 20a breaker


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Devices that are UL listed / approved do not have to comply with the same standards as everyone else does that needs to follow the NEC. For example, wires in fixtures are often smaller than the gage that the NEC would specify for the circuit they will be installed upon.

It is also such a short wire that even if you put a 20A load on a 14 gage wire that short, it would not be likely to get over the temp rating for that piece of wire.

I am not sure how exactly the AFCI's work and if that wire carries current or if it is more for sensing.
the neutral pigtail on the AFCI breaker is the neutral return for the entire circuit... to wire an AFIC you connect the hot and neutral to the breaker (2 screws on the breaker) then pigtail goes to the neutral bus
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Old 09-23-2010, 02:22 PM   #5
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wire gauge on afco 20a breaker


The conductor is also not in a cable or conduit, so it could be considered in free air.


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...............Asked 2 home depot electricians and they were perplexed - ..................
PLEASE don't tell me you are referring to the store employees.

99.9% of them are FAR from electricians.
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Old 09-23-2010, 02:24 PM   #6
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wire gauge on afco 20a breaker


I am not sure the NEc code reference (310.1.6?) but I think the answer is that 14 AWG single coductors "open air" which this would be can handle 20A, but in a cable with other conductors it is limited to 15A

thanks for all the helpful and quick replies
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Old 09-23-2010, 02:27 PM   #7
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wire gauge on afco 20a breaker


i use 2 home depots, one of which has a "master electrician" licensed since 1988 - his face and hours and picture are even up on the wall in the dept. Others have experience "working as electricians" in the past but are out of work due to the economy.
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Old 09-23-2010, 02:30 PM   #8
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wire gauge on afco 20a breaker


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i use 2 home depots, one of which has a "master electrician" licensed since 1988 - his face and hours and picture are even up on the wall in the dept.
This guy is likely in that .1% I mentioned.

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Others have experience "working as electricians" in the past but are out of work due to the economy.
These guys, not so much.
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Old 09-23-2010, 05:53 PM   #9
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wire gauge on afco 20a breaker


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PLEASE don't tell me you are referring to the store employees.

99.9% of them are FAR from electricians.
I had one (at home depot wih his photo on the wall as the store electrician) that claimed he was a liceansed electrician, but said he is retired.

He insisted I was going to "Burn my house down" by running 6 circuits (3 - MWBC) in a piece of EMT. He said each circuit still counts as 2 conductors even in a MWBC. So he claimed 3 MWBC counted as 12 CCC.

He also explained how I can get my power "cheaper" by balencing out the load on my panel. He said if both legs are equal they cancel eachother out and I won't get charged anything for the power I use.

Didn't he directly contradict himself with these 2 statements that were both bogus to begin with......

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Old 09-23-2010, 07:33 PM   #10
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wire gauge on afco 20a breaker


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Originally Posted by jamiedolan View Post
I had one (at home depot wih his photo on the wall as the store electrician) that claimed he was a liceansed electrician, but said he is retired.

He insisted I was going to "Burn my house down" by running 6 circuits (3 - MWBC) in a piece of EMT. He said each circuit still counts as 2 conductors even in a MWBC. So he claimed 3 MWBC counted as 12 CCC.

He also explained how I can get my power "cheaper" by balencing out the load on my panel. He said if both legs are equal they cancel eachother out and I won't get charged anything for the power I use.

Didn't he directly contradict himself with these 2 statements that were both bogus to begin with......


sounds like someone who misunderstands how AC current works
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Old 09-23-2010, 07:36 PM   #11
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wire gauge on afco 20a breaker


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He also explained how I can get my power "cheaper" by balencing out the load on my panel. He said if both legs are equal they cancel eachother out and I won't get charged anything for the power I use.

Didn't he directly contradict himself with these 2 statements that were both bogus to begin with......

I need to talk to this guy so I can figure out how to connect my neutrals to the meter so my power will be free
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Old 09-23-2010, 07:42 PM   #12
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wire gauge on afco 20a breaker


Somehow it posted twice

Last edited by a7ecorsair; 09-23-2010 at 07:44 PM. Reason: posted twice
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Old 09-23-2010, 07:57 PM   #13
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wire gauge on afco 20a breaker


Quote:
Originally Posted by jamiedolan View Post
I had one (at home depot wih his photo on the wall as the store electrician) that claimed he was a liceansed electrician, but said he is retired.

He insisted I was going to "Burn my house down" by running 6 circuits (3 - MWBC) in a piece of EMT. He said each circuit still counts as 2 conductors even in a MWBC. So he claimed 3 MWBC counted as 12 CCC.

He also explained how I can get my power "cheaper" by balencing out the load on my panel. He said if both legs are equal they cancel eachother out and I won't get charged anything for the power I use.

Didn't he directly contradict himself with these 2 statements that were both bogus to begin with......

James.,

Which one the east side or west side of big orange ??

If on West side watch your rear end { I am not going to comment on how bad it was but they learn a hard way from moi.}

Merci.
Marc
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Old 09-23-2010, 11:10 PM   #14
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wire gauge on afco 20a breaker


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James.,

Which one the east side or west side of big orange ??

If on West side watch your rear end { I am not going to comment on how bad it was but they learn a hard way from moi.}

Merci.
Marc
Yes It was the west store. Not sure if the same guy is stll there or not, last I saw of him was maybe a year ago or more. I've been getting electrical stuff at Werner lately, better prices than HD on most stuff anyway.

From a discount / cleareance area, I picked up a 1" x 18" lenox auger from werner for $10. I grabbed a 1.5" x 18" also for the same price.

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