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American Wire Gauge (AWG)

What Does American Wire Gauge (AWG) Mean?

Also known as the Brown and Sharpe Wire Gauge, the American Wire Gauge (AWG) has been predominantly used in North America since 1857. It is an index that specifies electric resistance, measurement of wires, and the diameter.

The carrying capacity (current) of solid, non-ferrous, solid wires can be known to users by harnessing the cross-sectional area. The lower the AWG number, the thicker the conductor. The American Wire Gauge consists of 44 standard wire sizes, ranging from 0 to 40. The thickest wire can be 00, 000, and 0000 gauges.

Safeopedia Explains American Wire Gauge (AWG)

Both fuses and circuit breakers offer protection against overheating wires and overloading them; however, they are not known to be absolutely protective. Both are known to trip or blow when they sense current overloads to avoid the wires overheating.

The wire gauge is very important in this context, as the potential for danger exists when an appliance or device tries to draw power higher than what the wire gauge in use is rated for. To cite an example, a heater rated for 20 amps when plugged in a circuit of 15 amp with 14 gauge poses a risk. This is where the role of the American Wire Gauge is important. Its wide range of power-carrying capacity allows someone to plug in many appliances and devices without worrying about any electrical hazards.

A thick AWG can be used to carry more current with a lower voltage drop. However, the wire diameter may need to be increased if the current is to be carried over long distances.

Below are the correction factors at ambient temperatures above 30oC:

  • ambient temperature 31-40 oC: correction factor = 0.82
  • ambient temperature 41-45 oC: correction factor = 0.71
  • ambient temperature 45-50 oC: correction factor = 0.58


Brown and Sharpe Wire Gauge

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