When To Use 12/2 vs 14/2 Wire

12/2 vs 14/2 Wire

The 14/2 and 12/2 wires are quite common for residential wiring. However, people will often confuse the two unless they can find a clear guide to help them understand where to use them.

First, we have to learn more about what these cables are all about before looking into their applications.

The 14/2 cable means that it is a 14 gauge cable with two conductors. The conductors will be black and white, standing for hot and neutral wires, respectively.

That is not all, as the 14/2 cable will also have a bare ground wire. The ground wire is always key in ensuring the circuit is properly grounded.

As for 12/2, it also has two conductors and a bare ground conductor. The biggest difference is that this time around, it will be 12 gauge in size. Such a gauge means it can carry more current than the 14 gauge.

Because of the capacity, the 14/2 will be a great cable for lighting. We find that it cannot accommodate more than 15A. Not many lights will need more than 15A to work.

Comparing it to 12/2, we see that this one has more capacity at 20A. Because of this, it stands out as a better option for cases where the appliances would draw more power.

That is why 12/2 would be used for lighting circuits and outlets too.

Below is a video comparing 14/2 vs. 12/2

Comparison: 12-gauge versus 14-gauge wires

The gauge simply means the measure of diameter. A larger diameter means it is less resistant to heat and can easily handle more current.

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When reading the gauge chart or table, the larger the number, the smaller the diameter of the wires. As for our case now, the 14/2 wire will be smaller than the 12/2 wire, although it seems the 14-gauge is larger because of the number.

One of the places a person can use these two wires will be for outlets.

It is possible you might be unsure which one to use. In case of such a scenario, stick to using the 12-gauge. It will never disappoint you.

Any electrician will advise you to use the 12-gauge wire because of its capacity. The 12/2 will have a capacity of 20A, and the 14/2 will have a capacity of 15A.

As you can see, the 12/2 will make the outlets work better for different appliances.

Even if you have an appliance constantly drawing more current, it will not be an issue when you have the 12/2 installed for the outlets.

Below is a quick video on the use of 14/2 and 12/2 cables

How Many Outlets Would 14/2 Run?

As much as it is not always recommendable to use 14/2 for outlets, some people still use it. In that case, we might as well as find out how many outlets are recommended for such a connection.

Eight outlets are recommended for a single circuit running 15A. So, take note of that to ensure you can have a working outlet still.

You may, however, have to keep checking the rating of appliances to see if the circuit would actually support the current rating.

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How best can you use the 14/2 wire?

The 14/2 wire is best suited for lighting circuits. This is where you get to use it for the lamps with a rating of below 15 A.

Can 12/2 wire be used for wiring outlets?

Yes. This type of wire is best suited for wiring outlets and small heaters. With a current rating of 20A, it can support many appliances today.

Which is the best wire for wiring house heaters?

Go for the 10/2 wires since they will have a capacity of 30A. This is enough even to wire baseboard heaters without a problem.