Can I Use 14/2 Wire for Outlets

If you’re wondering whether you can use 14/2 gauge wire for outlets, the answer is that you usually can.

14/2 wire is fine with a 15-amp circuit but not with a 20-amp circuit. This means it can be used safely, only for general and light loads but not more powerful appliances. 12/2 wire should be used instead with 20-amp circuits. As long as the wire is not long and you don’t expect to use more powerful appliances, requiring a 20-amp circuit, 14/2 wire on a 15-amp circuit is fine, and it will be cheaper and more flexible, too.

I will go into more detail below.

14/2 Gauge Wire

14/2 gauge wire consists of two conductors capable of carrying up to 15 amps of current.

14/2 wire is most commonly used for general-purpose appliances and lighting fixtures. The next thicker (and more expensive) option of 12/2 wire would be necessary for more powerful 20-amp circuits.

14/2 wire is capable of carrying less current. This makes it only suitable for general appliances that don’t need more than a 20-amp circuit breaker. Trying to do so could lead to overheating and an electrical fire.

Here is a summary of the key differences:

12/2 Wire14/2 Wire
Diameter0.08” (~2mm) (thicker)0.06” (~1.6mm) (thinner)
Maximum current20 amps15 amps
Suitable forRefrigerators, boilers, dishwashers, air conditioners, power tools, and other appliances that require higher currentLighting and other general loads
PriceMore expensiveCheaper (less expensive)

Two important things to note:

  • Since the 14/2 wire is thinner (than the 12/2 wire), it is easier to bend around corners and snake through openings.
  • Because you cannot use thinner 14/2 wire on a 20-amp circuit, you shouldn’t use it for larger appliances or power tools, even if you fit a 20-amp circuit breaker.

14/2 Wire for Outlets

14/2 and 12/2 wires


14/2 gauge wire is fine for a 15-amp circuit but cannot be used on a 20-amp circuit.

A 14/2 wire is a suitable choice for a 15-amp circuit, as it is cheaper than a 12/2 wire. But if you try to use it on a 20-amp circuit, the circuit breaker will most likely keep tripping. It is not designed to handle that much current draw.

Although 14/2 wire is more common for 15-amp circuits, some choose thicker 12/2 wire instead so that the circuit can be upgraded later to a 20-amp circuit without the need for rewiring.

Unless the wire run is very long, a 14/2 wire is sufficient for a 15-amp circuit, as it is cheaper (and more flexible) than a 12/2 wire.

Number of Outlets

If you want to know how many outlets you can install using 14/2 wire on the same circuit, a general rule of thumb is 1.8-2 amps per receptacle (or a maximum of 1.5 amps).

This means you should have no more than 8 (or max 10) receptacles on a 15-amp circuit, which is four outlets, assuming there are two receptacles on each outlet.

The standard recommendation considers that you should use no more than the 80% current threshold and not exceed the maximum.

If you need an extra outlet on the same circuit, use a 12/2 wire and a 20-amp circuit breaker instead.

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About Sam Orlovsky

b1d87d2ee85af3e51479df87928bdc88?s=90&d=mm&r=gCertifications: B.E.E.
Education: University Of Denver - Electric Engineering
Lives In: Denver Colorado

Electrical engineering is my passion, and I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years. This gives me a unique ability to give you expert home improvement and DIY recommendations. I’m not only an electrician, but I also like machinery and anything to do with carpentry. One of my career paths started as a general handyman, so I also have a lot of experience with home improvement I love to share.

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