Numerous criteria influence the pricing of wire. Gauge is the most crucial aspect of this discussion.
Simply put, it’s the diameter of a wire measured. Moreover, this measurement is often done using the AWG standard.
So, if you look at the gauge scale, smaller numbers indicate thinner wires. Wire sizing is critical because it affects the amount of current flowing through the wire.
The size also determines the resistance that presents to the current path.
Among all these sizes, the 6 AWG wire has various applications in the real world, from lighting installations to hot tubs.
Let’s dig into more details.
Understanding the American Wire Gauge System
Amperage measures a wire’s current capacity without overheating. Generally speaking, the wire’s amp rating increases with the gauge.
Smaller AWG values indicate excellent dimensions, while the cross-sectional wire area determines its amp rating.
Overloading a wire is a safety problem, which is why there are guidelines for wire diameters and total current.
Any persistent current higher than a wire’s capacity can cause overheating. Excess heat can quickly degrade wire insulation and constitute a fire hazard.
So, wire diameter can make a huge difference in any operation.
Familiarizing yourself with the various gauges of wire and their specific uses can significantly aid you in your ability to determine your project needs.
In addition, a renowned brand will reduce safety risks.
Caption: Charging car through 6 AWG cables
6 AWG wire features and specifications
A 6 AWG wire is mainly a 6-gauge wire made of solid copper, whose physical dimensions are:
Diameter: 4.11mm or 0.162 inches
Cross Section: 13.30mm2 or 0.0206 inches2.
However, a 6-gauge wire is not always made of solid copper. There are different wire materials, each slightly changing the diameter of the 6 AWG wire.
Solid copper wires
Aluminum 6 Gauge Wire:
Aluminum has higher electrical resistance than copper but is lighter. So, aluminum wires with the same gauge as copper are thicker but lighter.
Copper Clad Aluminum 6 Gauge Wire:
In this 6 AWG wire, the core is aluminum, but the outer cladding is copper. Due to the presence of aluminum, they are lighter than solid copper wire but have higher conductivity than pure aluminum wires.
Stranded 6 Gauge Wire:
These wires have multiple thin wires instead of one solid wire, making them easier to handle. Also, due to their stranded nature, these wires have a higher diameter than solid copper wires.
Copper stranded wires
Tinned-stranded copper wires:
These 6-gauge wires have various thin tinned wires with high resistance against corrosion. So, these wires are common in light industrial and marine applications, even if they are thicker than solid copper wires.
For instance, the diameter of tinned stranded 6-gauge copper wire is approximately 5.2mm, while that of solid copper wire (6 AWG) is approximately 4.1mm.
Then, how Many Amps Can a 6 AWG Wire handle?
Nevertheless, it is essential to remember that the amps and watts of a 6 gauge wire change depending on two more variables: the wire material and the ambient temperature.
The ampacity of all wires increases as temperature rises since electrical resistance decreases with increasing temperature (according to Ohm’s law).
In particular, copper 6 gauge wires have a larger ampacity than aluminum wire of the same gauge.
The ampacity of 6 AWG Wire
Most electricians use the AWG wire chart to determine the ampacity of wires of any gauge, including 6 AWG wires.
Now, the complete table of ampacities for 6 AWG copper and aluminum wires over three temperature ranges is as follows:
Caption: The ampacity of 6 AWG Gauge Wire
Maximum Amp Load of 6 AWG Wire
These amperages aren’t necessarily proportional to the current carrying capacity of a 6-gauge wire.
Despite its ampacity of 65A, a 6-gauge copper wire at 75°C (167°F) cannot safely carry that much current.
Only 80% of a wire’s maximum ampacity can be used. We must adhere to the NEC’s eighty percent rule.
We must comply with this regulation to avoid any potential dangers associated with overloading electrical circuits.
Hence, in terms of actual power. A 52-ampere load can be applied to a 6-gauge copper cable rated for 65 amperes. Follow these steps to figure it out:
Maximum Amp Load (Per 80 Percent NEC Standard) = 65 x 0.8 = 52 Amps.
Thus, a copper wire at 75 degrees Celsius can carry this many amps. See below for a full table for 6 AWG wires in copper, aluminum, and all three temperatures:
Caption: Max. Amp Load of 6 AWG Aluminum Wire and Copper wire
Hence, the table shows that the copper wire can handle up to 60 Amps of load at 90 degrees Celsius.
Caption: Isolated 3-wire Copper Cable
6 AWG ampacity in different lengths:
The ampacity of the wire changes with its length in reverse proportion.
As the length of the wire increases by around 50 feet, the ampacity of the wire decreases by 10% to maintain the energy losses.
Suppose you have a 100-feet 6-gauge wire that works under the maximum allowed temperature, i.e., 60 degrees Celsius or 140 degrees Fahrenheit. You can calculate the ampacity of such wire with this formula:
Ampacity = 55*0.8/1.2= 36.66 Amps.
The following table shows how the ampacity changes with the default temperatures for different wire lengths.
|Ampacity (in amps)
|60 degrees Celsius/ 140 degrees Fahrenheit
|75 degrees Celsius/167 degrees Fahrenheit
|90 degrees Celsius/194 degrees Fahrenheit
For residential structures, the maximum allowed surface temperature is 60 degrees Celsius. Thus, the second column correctly defines the ampacity of a 6 AWG wire based on the length.
As per the 80% rule, the real ampacity is only 80% of the default ampacity; thus, a shorter 6-gauge wire only has an ampacity of 44 amps.
As the wire length increases, the ampacity further decreases.
6-AWG ampacity in Free Air:
If you take a copper and an aluminum wire of the same thickness, the aluminum wire has higher electrical resistance but lower ampacity.
However, if both the wires have the same weight, the aluminum wire, being lighter, has lower resistance and higher ampacity.
The table below shows the ampacity of 6-gauge copper and aluminum wires in free air based on the maximum allowed temperature.
|Ampacity (in amps)
|60 degrees Celsius
|75 degrees Celsius
|90 degrees Celsius
The resistivities of pure copper and pure aluminum are 16.78 nano Ohm meter and 26.5 nano Ohmmeter, respectively, which is a little higher in real life. For instance, the resistivity of pure copper is approximately 17.24 nano Ohm Meter at 20 degrees Celsius.
Thus, it is advisable to use thicker aluminum wire if you want a lighter wire. A thick aluminum wire has higher ampacity despite having a lower weight than copper.
How Many Watts Can A 6 Gauge Wire Handle?
A simple electric power equation determines the wattage of 6 AWG wires.
Power (P) = Current (I) x Voltage (V) or Watts = Amps x Volts
Hence, to determine the maximum wattage, a given wire gauge can safely carry by simply knowing the voltage V.
Consider a regular 120V household circuit with a six-gauge copper wire. Furthermore, the average temperature is 75 degrees Celsius.
In the table above, we can see that the maximum amps allowed are 52A and that the voltage is 120V. Thus, simply multiplying amps by voltage yields watts:
6 AWG Wattage = 52×120= 6240 Watts
The maximum power consumption of a 6 AWG wire connected to a 120V circuit is 6,240 watts.
Hence, it’s important to note that the 6 AWG’s power output drops as the voltage drops.
Here is a graphic showing how much power copper and aluminum wires can carry at 75 degrees Celsius (167 degrees Fahrenheit) on average (this also applies to the NEC’s 80 percent rule).
Caption: Table of Volts vs. Watts for 6 AWG Wire
Hence, let’s say you have a 240V circuit with copper wire that is 6 AWG. With 240V, a 6-gauge wire can control 12,480 watts.
That is equivalent to 12.48 kW. Moreover, Let’s assume you are using a 12V battery with a 6 AWG aluminum wire.
If you restore the battery connection and let the current flow, you can get up to 480W of power.
This table can help you determine the maximum wattage a 6 AWG wire can safely carry at various voltages (for both copper and aluminum wires).
Caption: Isolated 6 AWG Copper Wires
Use of 6-Gauge Wire
A 6 gauge cable typically powers an electrical system requiring a high current volume.
Larger appliances include ovens and cooktops, hot tubs, air conditioning and heating systems, extensive lighting systems, and sub-panels.
Moreover, vehicle battery and starter systems typically require wires with 6 or more critical gauges.
The majority of installations include large residential appliances like jacuzzis and hot tubs.
Although the 6 gauge has many practical domestic applications, it is less prevalent. Most washing machines, dishwashers, and other appliances use smaller gauges like 8.
Caption: Coil of Welding Wires
Common 6 AWG Wires & Cables
You can see 6 AWG cables in various constructions.
6 AWG Welding Cable
The most common uses for welding cables with 6 AWG are welding machines and portable power cables.
Thinner copper threads and rubber protection create a 6 AWG welding cable.
The rubber sheathing protects the line from the elements, and the cable itself is more pliable and springy because of the rubber.
Moreover, welders must repeatedly wind and unwind the same roll of cable during a project. That is why you need quality wires like it.
Commercial and residential setups mainly use medium-duty cables and 6 AWG cables.
Commonly, you will find these cables in large appliances, subpanels, HVAC systems, outbuilding electrical supplies, and service entrances.
- THHN/THWN: Most indoor applications use these cables in conduits. However, you can also find them in branch circuits and feeders.
- XHHW: Used in conduits, these XLPE cables are common in applications requiring high heat resistance. Feeders and branch circuits also use these cables.
- USE-2: USE or Underground Service Entrance cable runs from an external supply to the structure’s service equipment.
- UF-B: Meant for direct burial without any conduits, 6 AWG UF-B cables help to supply power to medium load structures or underground circuits that power pond pumps and other similar powering things.
- SER: These service entrance cables for buildings and homes connect the primary power source with the interior distribution panel. A 6-gauge SER wire is common in service entrance applications of small residential settings.
- RHW: A 6 AWG RHW wire is suitable for use in damp locations like basements or other moist places. They require conduits for their installation.
- NM/Romex: A 6-gauge Romex wire is suitable for large circuits in residential interior settings like powering outlets or switches for ovens.
- MHF: A 6 AWG MHF wire helps you connect the electrical system of a mobile home with the main power supply.
- AC/MC: AC stands for armored cable,s while MC stands for Metal Clad. Both of them are suitable for medium-load applications in commercial settings. Also, they require conduits for cable protection.
6 AWG Battery Cable
The 6 gauge battery cable is the primary power source in compact automobiles, travel trailers, golf carts, and even smaller boats. This solar cable is also excellent for more compact solar line uses.
In most cases, the positive leg will use red jacketed cabling, whereas the ground will use black.
When choosing the amperage capability of a 6 AWG wire in your electrical system, remember to factor in the combined length of the positive and negative cables.
These battery cables can withstand high temperatures without breaking down. The line generally has a diameter of around 0.330 inches on the exterior.
The copper-stranded core inside allows maximum current flow while maintaining a high degree of flexibility.
The range of allowable temperatures is -50 to 105 degrees Celsius (-58 to 221 degrees Fahrenheit). Additionally, oil, most chemicals, grease, and even scratches won’t harm this cable.
6 AWG Battery Cable vs. 6 AWG Welding Cable
The welding cable and Starter (Battery) cable of the same gauge contain the same amount of copper.
They can carry the same current in either a 12V or 24V setting. The welding cable must be highly flexible while tolerating frequent bending and twisting for welding equipment, which often operates at higher voltages (600V).
The voltages involved in most car applications are either 12V or 24V and as the cable is in place, it doesn’t have to bend too much.
Welding cable could be helpful if you need to make a complex loop with your starting cables.
The design of Welding cable, which consists of more delicate threads than ordinary starting cable, is what provides its flexibility.
So, welding cable adaptability is the material’s primary strength in automobile uses.
Caption: 6AWG Cable Reels Factory
6 AWG Wire AMP Ratings vs. Distance
The maximum distance you can run a wire depends on the wire conductor types, voltage, amperes, voltage drop, and phase types.
Using 6 AWG copper wire, the maximum distance you can run 55A at 120V is 76 feet. Moreover, at 240V, the space can be 154 feet, and at 480V, it’s 306 feet.
This information is only applicable to single-phase circuits.
Furthermore, If you’re using a three-phase system, you may extend the length of your 120-volt, 240-volt, or 480-volt circuit by 88, 177, or 354 feet, respectively.
It is because you will experience only a 3% voltage decrease. Moreover, we wouldn’t recommend using aluminum wire with a gauge of 6.
Caption: the maximum distance you can run a 6 AWG copper wire
Is 6 AWG wire good for 50 amps?
For a 50 amp circuit, you will need 6 AWG copper or 4 AWG aluminum wires. This circuit range includes ovens, electric water heaters, backup generators, hot tubs, home workshops and electric vehicle charging points.
Can a 6-gauge wire carry 60 amps?
Generally, a 6-gauge wire has an ampacity of 55-65 amps.
Using such wires for a higher circuit, like a 70-amp load circuit, may lead to overheating and circuit damage.
A 4-gauge wire can handle a 75-amp circuit and is good enough to wire a 60-amp breaker, even if you apply the 80% rule.
For 40-amp circuits like electric cooktops and other such appliances, you will need an 8-gauge copper or 6-gauge aluminum wire.
How far can a 6-gauge wire carry 50 amps?
A 6 AWG wire can carry 50 amps for up to 55 feet. Here, we consider a 3% voltage drop, which is common with all electrical wiring.
Need 6 gauge wire for your electrical job? This flexible wire is used in a wide variety of contexts.
However, before committing to a specific gauge, it is essential to consider its most prevalent applications.
Also, be confident of the ampacity demands of the task at hand. Here at Cloom, we offer wiring harnesses and cable assemblies to make your connection safe and reliable.