You may be wondering exactly how thick 14-gauge wire is, especially if you’ve been advised to replace 12- or 16-gauge wire.
14-gauge wire has a diameter of 0.0641 inches or 1.6277 mm, approximately 1/16 of an inch or 1.6 mm. It’s a little thicker than 16-gauge wire but thinner than 12-gauge wire. It is about as thick as a standard PCB or 16 sheets of paper. It’s usually required for a 15-amp circuit and some 10-amp ones, such as lighting fixtures.
Continue reading for more details.
Thickness of 14-gauge Wire
The exact thickness of a 14-gauge wire is 0.0641 inches. More details are given in the table below in different measures.
Normally, when we speak of “14-gauge wire” in the United States, we mean 14-gauge in the AWG (American Gauge Wire) system, also called the ‘Brown and Sharpe Wire Gauge.’ The exact diameter is 0.0641 inches (1.6277 mm), with a cross-sectional area of 0.0032 sq in (2.0809 mm2).
Note that this is the diameter of a solid wire, as a stranded wire has a slightly larger diameter due to the separate strands.
The 14-gauge AWG equivalent in the SWG (Standard Wire Gauge) system is a 16-gauge wire with a diameter of 0.064 inches (1.6256 mm), which is only slightly thinner.
The resistance of 14-gauge (copper) AWG wire per 1000 feet is 2.5194 Ω/kft (or 8.2656 Ω/km per 1000 m) at 20°C (68°F). The maximum current in amps is 32 for chassis wiring and 5.9 for power transfer.
Below is a sample of 4 types of 14-gauge AWG wire.
A comparison of 14-gauge wire with other adjacent gauge wires can help to get an idea of how thick it is.
14-gauge wire is thicker than 16-gauge wire and thinner than 12-gauge wire. Refer to the chart below to see the difference.
If you need to decide between using a 14- or 16-gauge wire, usually for a 15-amp lighting circuit or as a boat cable, this is how the two look side-by-side:
Normally, a 15-amp circuit requires a 14-gauge wire, but a thinner 16-gauge wire may suffice for a lightweight (very low amperage) lighting fixture that doesn’t require a 15-amp circuit or has a long run. A 14-gauge wire will be better for preventing excess voltage drop over a long distance.
However, remember that a 14-gauge wire will be more expensive than a 16-gauge wire.
It might make it easier to know how thick a 14-gauge wire is by comparing it with other known objects instead of knowing the exact size in inches or millimeters.
14-gauge wire is approximately 1/16 of an inch or 1.6 mm. It is about as thick as a standard PCB (printed circuit board), 16 sheets of paper, and a cassette cog, and half as thick as a plywood sheet or wall tile.
So, it’s stiff enough, not easily to bend by hand. Compared to thinner 16-gauge wire, 14-gauge wire is not as easy to bend around corners and snake through openings.
Uses of 14-Gauge Wire
14-gauge wire is designed to allow up to 15 amps of current to pass through, usually on a 120-volt circuit.
It’s usually required for appliances such as standard light fixtures. Outlets used for low-power electrical devices and appliances can usually operate on 14-gauge wire, but check the manufacturer’s recommendations to know for sure.
A few examples of low-power electrical devices and appliances (other than lighting fixtures) are:
- Ceiling fan
- Smoke detector
A circuit that uses 14-gauge wire normally has 15-amp outlets and a 15-amp circuit breaker. GFCI protection is not usually required. So, if you see a 15-amp outlet or circuit breaker, it’s probably connected by a 14-gauge wire.
You should never use a 14-gauge wire on a 20-amp circuit. You will need a 12-gauge wire for that.
The thickness and slight stiffness of 14-gauge wire make it useful in more ways than just letting up to 15 amps of electrical current pass through.
For example, you can use 14-gauge wire as a bracelet or to tie something.
- 14-gauge silicone wire. https://www.acerracing.com/products/superworm-silicone-wire-14-gauge
- 14-gauge speaker wire. https://www.amazon.com/InstallGear-Gauge-100ft-Speaker-Touch/dp/B01CSZAYF0
- 14-gauge zip cord. https://www.pacergroup.net/14-gauge-zip-cord/
- Boat cable from 10- to 18-gauge. https://anaheimwire.online/boat-cable/
- B & D. The complete guide to home wiring: A comprehensive manual, from basic repairs to advanced projects. Black & Decker Home Improvement Library. Creative Publishing International. 2001
The Home Depot
Were Sorry This Was Not Helpful!
Let us improve this post!
Please Tell Us How We Can Improve This Article.