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#12 to 15 amps


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I have a house in North GA that is being basically rebuilt. Right now we've removed all the drywall and it's bare studs, wiring and outlet boxes.

Since the wiring is so exposed, I want to go over everything and make sure its safe and replace what's needed.

I was checking the wiring a couple of weeks ago, and found that the previous owner (I wanna believe it was the owner and NOT an electrical contractor), run 14/2 NM Sheathed conductors to the light fixture or receptacle outlet, clipped the grounding wires and connected the hot and neutral only. This is what I found throughout the whole house, so I want to do the right thing.

I know it may be overkill, but I want to use #12 CU conductors instead of #14 for all 15 amps circuits. Is there any reason not to?

Thank you for your time and patience,

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I used to do that too, I don't anymore. The only exceptions will be long circuits that would suffer a high voltage drop with #14 wire or circuits that I just want to be 20 amp. cause I know I will be using high draw power tools on them.

Reasons not too...

On the lighter side.

Compared to #14, 12 is a bitch to work with so far as bending and fitting into boxes without tearing up the insulation.

On the other side.

There are limits on box fill for a given size conductor. Ergo, you have to use bigger boxes for almost everything. Especially when you get into all the fancy type, multi pole switches and such that we use today, they're not your fathers plain old toggle switch anymore.

In many cases it is just totally ridiculous overkill to use #12 on lighting and receptacles that in the end are likely to be powering an alarm clock and a couple 60w bulbs, pulling 2-3 amps. max at any one time.

In most cases where there will be known heavier loads on circuits, the NEC already requires them to be 20 amp. circuits (Kitchen small appliance receptacles...) In places where 15 amp. circuits are allowed they are, for the most part totally fine and not in any way (IMHO) below par. Look at the actual ratings for the wire itself and you see they are quite a bit higher then the allowed overcurrent protection. The NEC has already built in several "buffers".

My opinion, worth every dime you paid for it.

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. . . I know it may be overkill, but I want to use #12 CU conductors instead of #14 for all 15 amps circuits. Is there any reason not to?

Yes. As Kyle pointed out, you're going to run into box fill issues. Many of the existing boxes will be too small to accommodate the #12.

I suppose you could also replace the boxes with larger ones.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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