Trouble can start brewing as soon as you start to get into the electrical side of things. When it comes to wiring and the actual process of dealing with electrical circuits, it’s probably best to leave it to a certified electrician and an expert in the field, in general.
However, with that said, it’s not a bad idea to educate yourself on some of the specifics. In this case, we want to look at 60-amp breakers. Specifically, we want to detail the size of wire that should be used for such a breaker. Gee, that seems like a fairly cut and dried topic to discuss, right?
In a way, you could say that’s indeed the case as the answer is pretty straightforward. Yet, anything dealing with electrical systems is going to be complicated, and that means that there’s more to dive into regarding the question of this post. So, with all that said, the 60-amp wire size of choosing should be…
The wire size is…
Alright, we know, we’re dragging this out for effect. We’re finished. The 60-amp wire size of choosing should be 4-gauge-wire. We say “should be” as you’ll commonly see 6-gauge wire used for 60-amp breakers. To err on the side of caution and for the best practice, it’s best to go with 4-gauge wire when installing 60-amp subpanels.
As we’re going to detail further in a minute, the size of the wire does matter. In fact, here’s a little chart that goes to show that depending on the gauge of wire being used, a certain number of amps will be able to be reached.
|Wire gauge||Maximum amps|
Okay, so what are wire gauges?
This term has already been referenced several times already and when dealing with wires, you’ll often hear or see “gauge” be referred to. It’s pretty simple, really, as the gauge of a wire merely refers to its thickness. However, what tends to trick the average person is the fact that the higher the gauge, the thinner the wire is.
That means that when you refer to a small gauge, you’re actually referring to thicker wire. This is also the reason why the lower gauges can handle more amperage. Additionally, you’ll often see the AWG (American Wire Gauge) method of measuring wire thickness.
The AWG method was developed in the US for the purposes of electrically conductive wire. Knowing this measurement, if you will, allows electricians to know if specific wire is ideal for certain applications.
Is a 60-amp service considered unsafe?
Okay, so this may seem like an odd question to ask. Now that you know the correct 60-amp wire size to go with, it’s also worth pointing out that you don’t often see 60-amp fuse boxes in homes. Then again, it does depend on how long it’s been since a home has had its wiring upgraded and how large the home is, to begin with.
However, addressing the question of whether or not a 60-amp service is unsafe for a home, the best answer would be no. Again, though, it does depend. Generally speaking, a 60-amp service would be considered small by the standards of today.
With a small enough home, though, a service of this current could actually comply with modern electrical codes and be deemed safe. Clearly, with a 60-amp service, you can’t draw more than 60 amps of current otherwise the breaker will trip. For a home, 60 amps of current isn’t a great deal. Again, this is why such a service could possibly suffice for a small home.
What happens if you use the wrong size wire?
Why is it so important to use the correct wire size for a 60-amp breaker? Well, it’s the same reason it’s important to use the correct wire gauge for any application. If the wire is too thin for the application (which would mean the wire gauge is too high), it could overheat and melt.
All sorts of issues could result from that including appliance damage, breaker damage, and a potential fire hazard. Looking at it the other way around, though, it’s not dangerous to use a wire that is thicker (lower gauge) than it needs to be. So, technically, the 60-amp wire size of choice could be 2-gauge wire.
Yet, it can be an inconvenience to use thicker wire than required. Aiming for that perfect medium of wire gauge for any application you need it for is always going to be the best practice. Then again, no matter what, always make sure the wire gauge can handle the amperage being drawn.
Are any specific materials better than the rest?
It seems so simple to say but it really is often the truth. The best material for electrical wiring is often just the material that has the best electrically conductive properties. And this is why you’ll more often than not see electrical wire made out of either copper or silver.
Electricians and companies dealing with electrical systems love both of those materials due to the fact that they’re two of the best conductors of electricity in the world. So, in that respect, there are indeed certain materials that work better than others.
When choosing a 60-amp wire size, 4-gauge wire is going to be the most optimal choice. 6-gauge isn’t uncommon to see in 60-amp services, but 4-gauge is the safer option. Then again, if you really wanted to, you could go even thicker. However, you don’t need to go thicker than 4-gauge.
That’s all she wrote, right? We suppose, though it goes without saying again that just because you know what gauge of wire to use, it doesn’t mean you’re now ready to wire everything in. It can’t be stressed enough how that should be left to the professionals, experts, and those with hands-on experience doing so.
But enough of us lecturing you about that. How about, instead, we just plug this next article? Sorry, we just have to do it! If you’re interested in learning how many amps an RV dryer uses on average, go ahead and click that link. Alright, we’re done here. Have a great day, everyone.