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OK to use 14 gauge pigtails on a 20 amp/12 gauge circuit?

ed wallaceed wallace Member Posts: 1,613
short answer is no wire size must be sized to the load 14 gauge only good for a 15 amp circuit


  • MikeKMikeK Member Posts: 1
    OK to use 14 gauge pigtails on a 20 amp/12 gauge circuit?

    I was perusing a home improvement book and the author recommended using 14 awg pigtails to connect outlets on a 20 amp circuit, since it is easier to bend/work with the 14 gauge wire. Is this acceptable?
  • Josh M.Josh M. Member Posts: 360

    The wire must be rated to carry the full load of the breaker. Why not just change out the breaker?
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 12,698
    and we wonder

    why DIYers get in trouble.

    If I saw that in an inspection, I'd flunk it.

    Of course, the homeowner is free to plug an 18 gauge extension cord into it, and run it under a rug to a space heater... sigh.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • Recepticles

    almost always 15 amp! When it comes to the terminal unit, no one wants to pay the few extra bucks for the right receptacle when they can get the 15 ampers for 39 cents.
  • TimcoTimco Member Posts: 2,968

    I was a sparky for 12 years. There was a switch leg rule that allowed 14 ga wire to be run to a light fixture because it is a fixed load and cannot possibly reach 20A, but that was a while ago. As stated, anything on a 20 A ckt MUST be 12 ga wire, but I still use 14 ga wire to wire circulators out of the taco controller even when the system is run off a 20 A ckt. A receptacle is not a fixed load, which means you could plug a 20 A compressor into it and never know it was fed with an under-sized wire. Pig tails are not like using a short piece of 1" iron gas pipe which can handle more BTUs than a long run can.

    Just a guy running some pipes.
  • realolmanrealolman Member Posts: 513
    just because the devil needs an advocate

    In the NEC table 210.24 Summary of Branch-Circuit Requirements,

    It shows #14 ga. wire being allowed to be used as taps on 20 and 30 amp circuits. What's with that?

    And because the devil's advocate should try to aggravate everyone, if the known load was all that was involved, we'd never need fuses, or circuit breakers, or nuthin'.
  • TimcoTimco Member Posts: 2,968

    I don't have a NEC in front of me, but the only table to use is 210-16. All others describe a wire in ambient air or not in a raceway. Also, use the THHN scale. Inspectors use 210-16. You may also want to look up 110-12.....

    Just a guy running some pipes.
  • realolmanrealolman Member Posts: 513
    this is

    the table to which I was referring.

    Let me say that I agree with you... that the pigtails should be #12.... why not... they're not that difficult to work with.

    But this table is in there, and I can see why someone might think that pigtails could be taps, and could be #14.... and they might be right.... I don't know.

    ...but I argued the point on Mike Holt's electrical forum, (on which I think you'll get about as good an answer as there is), and I can't find anyone, with the exception of the author of that book, who thinks they could be #14

    devil's advocate, signing off
  • realolmanrealolman Member Posts: 513

    Mike Holt's electrical forum has I believe some of the best and brightest folks associated with the electrical industry. I have high respect for those people.. I think you will get the most definitive answer for National Electrical Code questions there.

    I posted this question this morning and no one seemed to think you could use 14 ga pigtails on a 20 a circuit.

    Now some of the heaviest hitters there are rethinking ...
  • realolmanrealolman Member Posts: 513
    I'm baaaack

    Here is what I think is correct. It was provided by another poster and I think he is right.

    Art 240.4(D) says unless specifically permitted in some other sections... none of which have to do with receptacle pigtails... the over current protection shall not exceed 15 amps for 14 AWG.

    IMO the wiring book author is wrong, Timco, and these other guys are right.

    Devils advocate... over and out.
This discussion has been closed.


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