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AWG Wire Sizes
Last updated: 2/8/04

Q. Ethernet cabling can be implememted with 22 or 24 gauge wire. Why is a 24 gauge wire thinner than a 22 gauge wire?

A. Copper wire is made by drawing copper rods through dies of decreasing sizes. More dies are needed to make a thinner wire. The American Wire Gauge (AWG) number is the actual number of dies used to make the wire. A 24 AWG wire is made by drawing the copper through 24 dies.

A thinner wire of the same material has a higher resistance per unit distance than a thicker one. In house wiring, a thicker gauge wire (lower number) can usually carry a higher current. 14 gauge Romex cable usually has a 15 Amp breaker and a 12 gauge cable has a 20 Amp breaker. This assumes that the switches, outlets, etc. have the same current rating as the cable. Putting a 20 amp breaker on a 14 gauge circuit produces a potential fire hazard. As I am not a licensed electrician and codes and circumstances vary, this paragraph is for informational purposes only. Please see our COPYRIGHT, DISCLAIMER OR WARRANTY, AND TRADEMARK INFORMATION page for details. Larry

The Metallurgy of Copper Wire

Copyright, Disclaimer, and Trademark Information Copyright © 1996-2006 Larry F. Byard.  All rights reserved. This material or parts thereof may not be copied, published, put on the Internet, rewritten, or redistributed without explicit, written permission from the author.