Can I Use 12-2 Wire For Lights? All Concerns Answered

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Are you installing new lights at home and getting confused about whether to use 12 2 wires or 14 2 wires for lights? It can be a little tricky.

But we’re here to help you answer your question, “Can I use 12-2 wire for lights?

You can actually use 12-2 wires for lighting as long as you use a 15 Ampere circuit breaker with a maximum voltage of 30 Volts. Moreover, it is important to know the installation procedure and maintenance procedure for 12 gauge wires to ensure the efficiency of the lights.

That’s not the end. There’s a lot more you need to understand to use 12-2 wires for lights. So move on to the whole segment to know more.

By now, we hope we have covered all the answers to your question, ? So let us know if this helped and worked for you.

Importance of Electrical Wire Gauge in Lighting

Different wires serve different purposes but it is vital to know the right size or gauge of the wires. The gauge of a wire refers to the diameter or thickness of the wires. 

The measurement here is necessary because it determines the amount of current that can safely pass along the wire. This helps to avoid generating damaged and burnt out wires. 

The rule of thumb for the diameter of each wire is that the fixed numerical designation given to each wire is inversely proportional to the diameter of the conductors. Say, if the wire gauge is small, it’ll have a larger diameter. 

So the 12-2 gauge wire is thicker than the 14 gauge one. Moreover, the gauge rank determines the resistance of the wire and its weight per unit length. So these are quite essential for the lighting that is present in the 12-2 gauge wires. 

Moreover, the wire gauge sizes have their own safe ampacity. The safe ampacity refers to the measure of electrical current. For instance, the 12-2 gauge wires are considered safer for lighting compared to the 14 gauge ones. 

12-2 Wires: What and Why Use? 

12-2 or 12/2 wires are basically 12 gauge wires with two current-carrying conductors in the wires. These wires come with a black and white wire alongside an unsheathed copper wire for the ground. The black wire represents hot and the white wire represents neutral.

Moreover, the 12-2 gauge wires have a larger diameter that is 2.5 mm compared to the 14 gauge ones.

12/2 wires work great for lighting but you can also use them for hot water heaters and refrigerators.

But there’s a catch - 12/2 wires can’t be used with a voltage of more than 30 volts. So don’t be too greedy and use them for purposes that exceed the limit. Moreover, make sure to use a 15A circuit breaker, if you intend to use these wires for lighting. 

Now that you know all the features of these wires and their uses. Here are our top choices of 12-2 gauge wires you should consider getting-

Our Recommended 12-2 Wires

If you’re still not sure whether or not you’d need  12-2 wiring. Let’s show you what you’d be missing out on if you chose any other wire. And why 12-2 wire would be perfect for your lighting.

Advantages of 12-2 Electrical Wires in Lighting

Using 12/2 wires for lighting can be quite beneficial. You might be surprised to know Cerro wires come in 12-2 gauge wire configurations

Most people use 14/2 cables for lighting but 12/2 wires work just perfectly fine. So let’s see how these wires can work for lighting.

It’s Easy to use

12/2 wires are easy to use because you can very easily install these for outdoor lighting. The voltage power is low, so you don’t have to worry about high voltage shock or anything. Moreover, the wires are flexible and easy to strip so installing these won’t be troublesome at all. 

Works for Diverse Kinds of Lighting

Now, you already know that 12/2 wires can work great for lighting. But the interesting part is, as long as it’s under 30 volt, these wires can work for any kind of lighting. 

You can use these for path lights, outdoor spotlights, electric window candles, deck lights, or even garden accent lights. Not only that, 12/2 wires can be used for underwater lights too. 


Moreover, did you know you can use 12/2 wires for black lights that you can use to trace spots such as your cat’s urine on the floor or wall. So next time when you use primers for cat urine, you can spot it using the 12/2 wired black lights.

It’s Great for Outdoor Use

12/2 wires are very good for outdoor use. As in, these wires won’t meltdown or be harmed due to exposure. These wires are built in such a way, that they can withstand sunlight, abrasion, and moisture. 

So, exposure to excessive heat will not harm the wires as they can tolerate up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also bury these wires underneath the soil, so you won’t have to worry about cracks or tear ups either. 

Can Handle More Load

As mentioned earlier, the 12 gauge wires have a greater diameter and are thicker. So these can handle more load. So there’s little to no chance of a circuit overboard.

Possess Good Conductivity

12/2 wires are slightly better conductors than 14/2 wires because of the unsheathed copper wire. This saves you from the loss between the service panel and your lighting fixtures. 

Disadvantages of 12-2 Electrical Wires in Lighting

Using 12 gauge wires for lightings can also be tough work because of the disadvantages that come along with it. 

It’s a Bit Beyond Budget

Now the 12/2 wires are slightly on the pricey end compared to the 14/2 wires. But this is because the wires can handle quite a lot of pressure. But you might not want to opt for this if you’re looking for a cheaper wire for your lights. 

Hard to Work With

Now there’s one thing about the 12/2 wire that makes it a little inconvenient when it comes to lighting. This is because the insertion fittings at the back of the switch won’t come along with the wire, unlike the 14/2 ones. 

Moreover, the electrical nuts that come along with these are of no use. So you’ll have to buy your own nuts. 

By the way, here are our top choices of electrical nuts-

Furthermore, making a secure connection with 12 gauge wires can be a little tricky. This is because thick wires can be hard to twist. But wires require a lot of twisting when used for lights. 

How many lights can be put on a 12-2 gauge wire?

Now that you know why you should use 12-2 gauge wires.

Let’s determine how many lights you can put on your 12-2 gauge wire, you can use the following formula-

 Watts = Volts x Amps

So for a 12-2 gauge wire, the number of lights will be (30x15) 450 watts. So you can load 450 watts on your 12-2 gauge wires.

Installing 12-2 gauge wires

To install the wires for lighting and make connections, you’ll need to cut the wire to your desired length and strip the ends. For that process, here’s what you’ll need-

  • Wire cutter or strippers
  • Waterproof wire nuts
  • Cable tie for each fixture

Now to begin with the process, cut the main run of wire. Make sure to leave a one-foot diameter loop when laying out the wire. This is where each fixture will be placed.

The second step is to strip the end of the wire so that 3/4th inch of the bare copper is exposed. 

Now place one wire from each main run with one wire from the fixture. Repeat the process with all the other wires. 

At this point, you’ll have to turn the wire nut on to the group of wires until it stops turning. Here, repeat it again with the other ones. Make sure to use waterproof wire nuts for this process.

And finally, bundle all the wires together and use a cable tie or electrical tape to secure them together. This is where you need to do the twisting again. 

Maintaining 12-2 gauge wires

If you really want your lights and other industrial systems to keep running efficiently and reliably, regular maintenance of the wires is quite necessary. This will ensure your wires are flawlessly running on a continuous basis.

Moreover, handling the 12-2 wires with proper care and maintenance is even more vital because of how pricey these are. You don’t want your money to go in vain. So make sure to keep a close eye on the wires and take care of these to avoid electrical failures. 

Prevention of damage

To prevent any damage to the wires while installing, you must keep a close watch when they are being installed. Whether you do it on your own or by electricians, make sure to do it with care. 

The wires must be set as straight as possible. This will avoid any kind of mechanical stress on the conductors. 

Moreover, avoid twisting the wires too much, especially for 12-2 gauge wires. Because this can highly reduce the performance of the wire. You can also make a knot of the cable bunch while laying the wire to enhance the performance of the wire.

Furthermore, you must make sure to avoid all sorts of puncture or crushing of the wire. This will damage the wire jacket.

Repair on Time

It is crucial to keep your wires under regular supervision. Check them regularly to avoid any accidents occurring in the future. If you find any kind of damage or tears on the wire, make sure to repair them right away instead of waiting for further damage.

Repair the wires even if you find them on the verge of getting damaged.  This is because wires can be pretty dangerous if left open or damaged. It can lead to major safety issues.

Always Maintain Records

Keeping records of the place where your wires are installed is highly recommended. Furthermore, prior knowledge about the installation dates and lifespan of the wires is necessary to avoid any kind of accidents. 

Moreover, you must take notes on all the areas where breakdown could occur. Keep track of the past failures and short circuits to help you identify the damages or issues prior to the accident. 

So, keeping a routine check on the wires can save you from expensive outages which can lead to the whole system getting out of control.

FAQs

Can I mix 12 and 14 gauge wire?

The amp capacity for a 12 gauge wire is 20 amps whereas a 14 gauge wire is 15 amps. Even though you can technically use 14 gauge wires on 20 amps, it is really not recommended.

How many lights can you put on 14 gauge wires?

You can load up to 2400 watts onto a 14 gauge wiring for a 120-volt circuit. But don’t use 240 volts circuits for this much load. 

Question: How many outlets can be on a 15 amp breaker?

A 15 amp breaker can afford up to 10 outlets but not all of them can be used at the same time. 

Conclusion

That was all from our side. We hope we have covered all the necessary information you need to use 12 gauge wires instead of 14 gauge wires for your lighting system. 

can I use 12-2 wire for lighting
Scott Kelly