Do you know how many Amps can a 6 gauge wire handle? this is one of the questions our readers ask a lot. Well, we´ve got you covered.
A 6-gauge wire is a pretty hefty wire. It’s not something that you will find in residential applications often but it is far more prevalent in industrial and commercial applications than that of 4-gauge wire and the largest, 2-gauge variation.
So, how many amps a 6 gauge wire can handle? In copper wire, a size 6 wire can handle anywhere between 55 and 75 amps, while aluminum and copper-clad aluminum can handle anywhere between 40 and 55 amps. The variations between the amperes that this size wire can handle are due to application, insulation, and temperature ratings.
According to the National Electric Code (NEC), AWG 6 is a “general purpose” wire and it’s mostly found in large appliance-type additions to homes (like hot water tubs) when it comes to residential usage.
In commercial applications, you will often find size 6 wire in lighting.
As with all of the other wires sizes, size 6 wire can handle various amperage depending on what the wire is installed for and the temperature rating of the circuit.
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Uses for 6-Gauge Wire
When it comes to circuit breakers, most residential homes are designed to handle either 15 or 20 amps.
So your immediate thought would be that there is no place for a size 6 wire in a residential dwelling. However, size 6 finds its way into more applications than you would think.
For one, just because it is a size 6 wire, doesn’t mean that it can’t be useful when 20 amps are the max.
While the same is not true in reverse, larger wires can handle the amps that typically flow through smaller wires without a problem.
So if everything in your home is set up on a 20-amp circuit breaker (usually), a size 6 wire won’t present a problem for that. It’s not what you would normally use, especially considering the fact that it is far more expensive than the 12 or 14-gauge wire that is typically found in the home.
However, appliances can run on 10 and 8-gauge wire and some will even run on 6-gauge, depending on what it is and its power requirements.
- Hot tubs and Jacuzzis
- Washers and Dryers
Of course, you won’t typically find size 6 wire in washers, dryers, dishwashers, or ovens, however, it is used in these appliances, regardless of frequency, so it stands to reason that size 6 wire deserves a place on these lists.
You’re much more likely to find size 6 wire in a hot tub, jacuzzi, or water pump system for an in-ground pool.
For commercial use, you will find all of the same uses for a 6-gauge wire that you would in residential usage, with the obvious exception of the manufacturing industry, where you will find size 6 wire in a bast array of applications.
In the shipbuilding industry, for instance, you will find 6-gauge wire in almost every aspect of a ship’s electric system, especially in larger ships where entire rooms are dedicated to industrial-sized washers and dryers.
You’ll find it in kitchens where a single oven would fill up half of a residential kitchen and the same goes for dishwashers.
In smaller, commercial applications, such as for grocery stores, size 6 wires may be used in the lighting system or in some of the larger appliance machinery in the back.
It’s definitely more prevalent at the commercial, industrial, manufacturing, and agricultural levels than anything you would find at home. However, it’s still not the most used wire size of the bunch in either type of application.
You will still find that size 8 and 10 wires are used for larger appliances far more often than a size 6 wire.
What’s the Voltage Drop on a Size 6 Wire?
Voltage drop is essential knowledge for those that are running size 6 wire—or any type of wire for that matter—because there is always a level of drop due to a number of factors, including distance and resistance. Factors that affect voltage drop include:
- Wire size
- Wire length
- Extra connections
- Applied power
In formulaic terms, voltage drop is measured by calculating, Vdrop = Resistance x Current. This is the most pedestrian formula for calculating voltage drop. The thing is, there are so many mitigating factors that can affect voltage drop or loss that multiple formulas are called for.
The various formulas for calculating voltage drop are available for all of the different scenarios when you are dealing with both voltage drop and voltage loss.
For the purposes of this article, we’re sticking with the quick calculation for voltage drop, in a size 6 wire, stretched out to 1,000’.
Resistance is measured in Ohms and the resistance level at 1,000’ of 6-gauge wire is 0.395.
Assuming that your power source is a 120V, single-phase circuit and your conductor is 6AWG, stretched out over 1,000’, you can apply the following formula: Vdrop = 120 x 0.395.
That will give you the voltage drop that occurs across the span of 1,000’, however, it’s only measured in terms of the single, existing factor being the resistance caused by distance.
In this case, it’s 0.395 Ohms. So the result would be a loss of 48V.
That’s not the entire story. If the load is factored in, and in this case, the load is 70A, the voltage drop is reduced to 33V.
So there are several factors that can easily alter the formula and present a more accurate representation of the voltage lost with a host of different factors applied.
The Difference in Size 6 Copper and Size 6 Aluminum
Aluminum is known for its resistance to both heat and current, yet it is still highly regarded in terms of electrical wiring because it is used in so many different applications.
However, aluminum wire is not going to be as conductive as copper and that includes copper-clad aluminum.
Copper-clad aluminum doesn’t increase the conductivity of the aluminum wire by a single iota and it is used for reasons outside of its ability to conduct electrical current.
Aluminum has one major advantage over copper, especially when it comes to larger wires, like 6-gauge.
It’s lighter. In fact, it’s much lighter in weight than copper and that makes aluminum a factor in the decision-making that goes into laying out a lot of wire.
Over a long distance, the weight of the wire can add up in a hurry and if the wire that’s being used is well within the safety parameters for aluminum, then it’s the obvious choice. It’s also a lot more affordable than copper, not to mention its malleability.
If you’re running a lot of wire that has to push into tight corners and around tight curves, aluminum makes a good alternative over copper because it can be manipulated through these tight areas better than copper can.
Affordability makes a good case as well although, believe it or not, that’s probably the least important factor when it comes to choosing between the two.
Sze 6 wire can handle anywhere between 55 and 75 amps in the copper version and between 40 and 55 amps in the aluminum variant.
There are a surprising number of uses for both aluminum and copper, size 6 wires in both residential and commercial applications.
Although it’s not the most common wire in the group, it’s still a well-used and well-known size for specific installation purposes.
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