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Old 11-10-2011, 08:13 PM   #1
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Wire Size for Receptacles


Can someone tell me when the requirement for #14 max wire size for 120v 15A receptacles came about? My house was built about 20 years ago and circuits were wired with #12 solid CU. I've recently had to change out some receptacles and find that all the new ones will accept #14 max for the stab-in connection. I was able to install the new receptacles by using the side screws --a lot more work(!), but not much choice.

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Old 11-10-2011, 08:15 PM   #2
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Wire Size for Receptacles


the spring style stab in connections have been #14 only for many many years(15+ i would say). the screws are by far the better choice anyway.

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Old 11-10-2011, 09:22 PM   #3
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Wire Size for Receptacles


A bit of advice.....do not use the back stab feature of recepticles.....that is one of the most common sources of failure....

12 Awg is the standard for wall recpt. Even though your outlet might be a 15A recpt....the ckt feeding it is also feeding several other outlets....hence, 20A.

Unless the outlet is the last outlet in the string, the outlet has another set of wires going to the next outlet.

When you use the back stab feature of the outlet, you are depending on the small contact area of a spring loaded blade on to the side of a round wire. On a good day, you 'might' get 20% surface contact. Couple that with the daisy chain of other outlets.....your setting yourself up for failure.

I personally think that the back stab feature on outlets should be removed.
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Old 11-10-2011, 09:55 PM   #4
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Wire Size for Receptacles


Backstab should be stopped but all plugs should have screw down clamps on them, no need to put loops in the wire and get it to fit under the screw.
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Old 11-11-2011, 05:22 AM   #5
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Wire Size for Receptacles


Quote:
Originally Posted by PPBART View Post
I was able to install the new receptacles by using the side screws --a lot more work(!), but not much choice.
I have to say, this part is a bit over dramatic. It's NOT "a lot" more work. Not even close. Especially for just "some receptacles".

Ask ANY electrician and they'll tell you that back stab connections on receptacles is one of the most failure prone things in our work. THIS is why you can only use #14 with that function. The added load typically seen on a 20A circuit compared to a 15A makes these failures even more likely.

#14 is NOT the max size you can use, it's just the max size a back stab will accept.
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Old 11-11-2011, 06:44 AM   #6
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Wire Size for Receptacles


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Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
...It's NOT "a lot" more work. Not even close. Especially for just "some receptacles".

Ask ANY electrician...

#14 is NOT the max size you can use, it's just the max size a back stab will accept.

LOL! If I were an electrician, I'm sure it would have been less of an issue. However, if I were an electrician I probably would not be asking the question here.

And I thought I made it clear that I was referring to #14 as the max size for back stab, since I stated that I connected the #12 to the side screws(?)

Anyway, thanks for the good info about the potential disadvantages of the stab connections -- I'll certainly keep that in mind for future projects.

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Old 11-11-2011, 10:56 AM   #7
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Wire Size for Receptacles


Another electrician and I can't stress enough how bad the stab in the backs are. They do not hold up and you will soon be tracking down a loose connection
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Old 11-11-2011, 10:56 PM   #8
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Wire Size for Receptacles


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Backstab should be stopped but all plugs should have screw down clamps on them, no need to put loops in the wire and get it to fit under the screw.

PPBART The better, higher quality receptacles have clamps. Whenever you replace a receptacle, spend a little more and get the better ones.
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Old 11-12-2011, 12:00 AM   #9
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Wire Size for Receptacles


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PPBART The better, higher quality receptacles have clamps. Whenever you replace a receptacle, spend a little more and get the better ones.

This is actually very true. If you ever break a receptacle open, you will know why. The cheap receptacles just have metal that spreads apart when you plug something in. When you unplug it, it has enough memory to spring back closed. This isn't the case forever, eventually they become loose and make a crap connection. The good receptacles have a spring loaded tab that spreads apart and the spring puts the pressure on. Should make a good connection forever.
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Old 11-12-2011, 07:52 AM   #10
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Wire Size for Receptacles


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...If you ever break a receptacle open, you will know why...
I took an old receptacle and broke it open to examine that clamping mechanism and I see what you mean. Guess we've been fortunate that (to the best of my memory) we've only had a couple of receptacles actually fail so far in our 20-year old house -- or maybe the hardware was a bit stouter back then(?) Anyway, I'll happily use the side screws for any future replacements.
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Old 11-12-2011, 10:01 AM   #11
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Wire Size for Receptacles


I was more referring to the front of the receptacle but yes, the stab in the backs are worthless
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Old 11-12-2011, 12:20 PM   #12
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Wire Size for Receptacles


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I was more referring to the front of the receptacle but yes, the stab in the backs are worthless
OK, I re-read your post and understand, took another look at that receptacle I broke open and see what you mean. Thanks for the info.
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Old 11-12-2011, 01:46 PM   #13
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Wire Size for Receptacles


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OK, I re-read your post and understand, took another look at that receptacle I broke open and see what you mean. Thanks for the info.

the old saying is true, you get what you pay for. There is a reason that cheap receptacles are cheap. I do use them sometime in spots that stuff isn't going to be plugged in and unplugged all the time. The more you plug and unplug a cheap receptacle, the faster they wear out. In spots that are going to constantly plugging in and unplugging i always make sure to use a commercial rated receptacle

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