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determining wire gauge


John Dirks Jr
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Originally posted by AHI

Is there a feeler gauge available for measuring the core of a wire to determine its gauge? If so where do I find one? I am mainly interested in one that would work for main service conductors.

Google up professional equipment. They have a few different kinds.

Alternately, go to Home Depot and buy 6" of each kind.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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I was thinking just that. Go to Home Depot and just check all the different sizes. As far as service cables are concerned , I bet the sizes are far enough apart with a bit of studying I wont even need a gauge. I am pretty good at judging sizes. You can throw a bunch of combination wrenchs down and ask me to pick up a particular size for instance. I can do it by eye without looking at numbers on the wrenchs. So with a bit of studying the different wire sizes I suppose I will be able to do the same there.

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Originally posted by AHI

I was thinking just that. Go to Home Depot and just check all the different sizes. As far as service cables are concerned , I bet the sizes are far enough apart with a bit of studying I wont even need a gauge. I am pretty good at judging sizes. You can throw a bunch of combination wrenchs down and ask me to pick up a particular size for instance. I can do it by eye without looking at numbers on the wrenchs. So with a bit of studying the different wire sizes I suppose I will be able to do the same there.

Good luck with that one.

I strongly suggest that you just buy the set of gauges at PE.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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I've suggested this one to a couple guys. They all said it was a big help. Hell when I get a head spinner for my morning inspection you might catch me digging mine out for the afternoon inspection. If nothing else it always helps to give the client a visual when your telling them "no, actually this is not a 200 amp service" It measures the SE cable on the outside. Doesn't help much when your in conduit though.

http://www.professionalequipment.com/el ... cessories/

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Kyle & Jim, I like both of those shown in the links you listed. I plan on ordering one of each. Then I can utilize my free shipping coupon professional equipment sent me in email. I have done business with them before.

Steven, Is that thing metal? I wonder if they have something like that made out of non- conductive material mounted on the end of a plastic lever of sorts. That way you could rotate it to the range of possible size you were measuring and stick it into the panel to a stripped portion of wire for a measurement. Hey theres a patent idea....someone go for it.

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Originally posted by randynavarro

Is it my imagination or are wires size different today?

IOW, no.14 copper in a newer panel sure looks a lot smaller than no. 14 in an older panel.

Got that right Randy. My house was built in 1962. It has this wire with what looks like a woven kind of asphalt like outer sheathing. On the wire it says 14 gauge but the copper wire cores are way thicker than the 14 gauge romex of today. Now the ground wire on this older wire is thinner but the hot and common are way thicker.

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Originally posted by AHI

Originally posted by randynavarro

Is it my imagination or are wires size different today?

IOW, no.14 copper in a newer panel sure looks a lot smaller than no. 14 in an older panel.

Got that right Randy. My house was built in 1962. It has this wire with what looks like a woven kind of asphalt like outer sheathing. On the wire it says 14 gauge but the copper wire cores are way thicker than the 14 gauge romex of today. Now the ground wire on this older wire is thinner but the hot and common are way thicker.

Wait a minute. I might have to take that back. I went down and checked and the thicker stuff does have 12 printed on it. The insulation is thicker on the older wire though.
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Originally posted by AHI

. . . I wonder if they have something like that made out of non- conductive material mounted on the end of a plastic lever of sorts. That way you could rotate it to the range of possible size you were measuring and stick it into the panel to a stripped portion of wire for a measurement. Hey theres a patent idea....someone go for it.

Someone beat you to it. It's called a dial caliper.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by charlieb

If I'm correct the orange box has a plastic version w/o the dial. Guess they want to break into the tool & die maker market!

Those plastic vernier calipers are remarkably accurate. If you want to bother cross-referencing with a chart, they'd be a good way to measure wire thicknesses in a panel.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by charlieb

Those plastic vernier calipers are remarkably accurate. If you want to bother cross-referencing with a chart, they'd be a good way to measure wire thicknesses in a panel.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

Mark them with a sharpie pen

That's a great idea. I have two sets of feeler gauges. One plastic caliper will take up less room and will probably work better. Thanks.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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You can get the cheapie plastic calipers for a couple of bucks, I think I paid under $4 with shipping, quite a bit cheaper than the gauges. Without a dial it is a little difficult to read the smaller sizes, but you don't really need it for 10-14. I have been thinking of filing marks that line up like a vernier caliper for different sizes but the sharpie might work if you can write small enough.

From a practical point of view, I have maybe used this thing 2 or 3 times. Most panels here you can't see the SE cables, when you can, you can usually read the size on the cable.

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My challenge is actually accessing the wire safely enough to get a good measurement, mainly on the SEC's. They usually do a pretty good job of stripping just enough jacket with no extra bare wire sticking out the main lugs.

There probably isn't a reliable method to measure the wire with the jacket?

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