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What is the Current Carrying Capacity of Copper?

Copper is a reliable and cost-effective material that has been used in electrical wiring since the 1850s. It’s strong, durable, and can handle higher currents than other materials without damage. But how much current can it actually carry? Let’s take a look at the current carrying capacity of copper and what this means for your wiring projects.

What Does Current Carrying Capacity Mean?

Current carrying capacity is the amount of amperage (amps) that a wire or cable is able to pass through it safely. This depends on several factors, including the temperature rating of the wire, its insulation type, and its size. The higher the current carrying capacity, the more power you can run through it without causing damage or creating hazardous conditions.

Calculating Copper’s Current Carrying Capacity

Current carrying capacity formula

Amps = watts/volts.

Using this formula, we can calculate that a 16 AWG (American Wire Gauge) conductor with an ampacity rating of 25A will be able to carry approximately 1,920 watts at 120V of electricity.

This means that if you were installing a new lighting system in your home, this cable could handle up to 1,920 watts without overheating or damaging.

American Wire Gauge Converting Chart

The table below can be used to convert American Wire Gauge (AWG) to square mm cross sectional area

American Wire Gauge
(#AWG)
Diameter
(inches)
Diameter
(mm)
Cross Sectional Area
(mm2)
0000 (4/0) 0.460 11.7 107
000 (3/0) 0.410 10.4 85.0
00 (2/0) 0.365 9.27 67.4
0 (1/0) 0.325 8.25 53.5
1 0.289 7.35 42.4
2 0.258 6.54 33.6
3 0.229 5.83 26.7
4 0.204 5.19 21.1
5 0.182 4.62 16.8
6 0.162 4.11 13.3
7 0.144 3.67 10.6
8 0.129 3.26 8.36
9 0.114 2.91 6.63
10 0.102 2.59 5.26
11 0.0907 2.30 4.17
12 0.0808 2.05 3.31
13 0.0720 1.83 2.63
14 0.0641 1.63 2.08
15 0.0571 1.45 1.65
16 0.0508 1.29 1.31
17 0.0453 1.15 1.04
18 0.0403 1.02 0.82
19 0.0359 0.91 0.65
20 0.0320 0.81 0.52
21 0.0285 0.72 0.41
22 0.0254 0.65 0.33
23 0.0226 0.57 0.26
24 0.0201 0.51 0.20
25 0.0179 0.45 0.16
26 0.0159 0.40 0.13

Copper Wire Size

Choosing the right size copper wire for your wiring project is key to ensuring safe operation and avoiding damage or fire hazards. Generally speaking, thicker copper wires are better suited for larger projects where more power needs to be transferred from one point to another. For instance, if you were running power from a large generator to an outdoor light fixture, then you would want to use a thicker wire with a higher current carrying capacity so that it could handle more wattage without becoming damaged or posing any safety risks. On the other hand, if you were replacing an old outlet in your home with a newer model, then you could probably get away with using thinner wire since there won’t be as much power being transferred through it.

Conclusion:

Understanding how much current copper can carry is essential for any electrical project that involves wiring—whether it’s installing new fixtures in your home or powering up an entire industrial building complex. By understanding how much power each gauge of copper wire can handle before becoming damaged or posing safety risks, you will be better equipped to select the suitable cable for your particular project and ensure that everything runs smoothly during installation and operation after that. With this knowledge, you’ll have all the tools necessary for successful wiring projects!

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