The wire gauge needed for the outlet that powers your window air conditioner is determined by the minimum amperage that the appliance requires.
There are many different factors about your future air conditioner which you should consider before you start shopping around for it.
You also need to ensure that your window air conditioner is compatible with the power outlets in your house.
To do this, you need to find the minimum amperage that your air conditioner requires, then apply the National Electrical Code’s (NEC) 80 percent rule, so that you can find out the appropriate size wire gauge that the outlet should have.
Considerations for buying an air conditioner
Although air conditioners come in a range of shapes, sizes, and price points, there are a few factors that you should take into account before purchasing a particular air conditioner model, as this is a big investment for your home.
As a result of the wide variety of air conditioners that are available on the market, it is vital to find one that is appropriately sized for your space.
Once you have the size of the air conditioner that you need figured out, you can consider which models are more energy-efficient or have other features that you may want or need, as well as other finer details.
What gauge wire for a window air conditioner outlet?
Another important consideration when you are shopping for an air conditioner is the type of outlets that you have in your house.
It is imperative that your air conditioner is compatible with the electrical outlets in your house to ensure that it can function properly and safely.
The wire gauge needed for an outlet that powers any appliance is determined by the minimum amperage that the appliance needs to operate, because the wire needs to be able to carry this amount of current effectively and safely.
Most window air conditioners need about 11 A to run and can be powered by an outlet with a 14-gauge wire.
However, it is better to be specific when you are determining what wire gauge you need for the outlet that is powering your window air conditioner, since the appropriate wire gauge is dependent on the minimum amperage that is required by your specific air conditioner model.
The amperage of your air conditioner model can usually be found on a label that is printed on the side of your window unit.
However, if you cannot find this label or it is illegible, then you can determine the minimum amperage by dividing the wattage of your unit by the voltage of the unit.
Then the appropriate 14, 12, or 10-gauge wire can be selected from the results of these calculations, after you have applied the NEC’s 80 percent rule.
How to find the amperage of your air conditioner if you cannot find the label
The amperage, wattage, and voltage of window air conditioners can differ drastically from one unit to the next, which is why it is important that you find the minimum amperage for your specific unit before you try to determine the appropriate wire size for your outlet.
The best way to determine the wattage or voltage of your air conditioner, or even the amperage, if you cannot find or read the label that states the minimum amperage of your unit, is to use an electric multi-meter to measure these values while the air conditioner is running.
How the NEC 80 percent rule works
The NEC 80 percent rule means that unless a circuit breaker states otherwise, it can only take 80 percent of the electrical load that the circuit is rated for.
This also means that the wires that are going from your circuit breaker to the outlet where your window air conditioner will be connected and the load that the air conditioner carries, must also comply with this 80 percent rule.
This means that if your air conditioner uses 16 Amps to operate, you need to ensure that this is only 80 percent of the amperage that the wire is capable of carrying and you cannot use a wire that can carry 16 Amps of power.
Appropriate wire gauges for different amperages
Once you have worked out the amperage of your window air conditioner and you remember to account for the NEC 80 percent rule, you can find the wire gauge that is appropriate for your needs.
The wire gauges and the amount of amps that they can safely carry are:
|Wire gauge||Amount of amps||Number of amps with the NEC 80 percent rule||Where to buy|
|10-gauge wire||30 Amps||24 Amps|
|12-gauge wire||20 Amps||16 Amps|
|14-gauge wire||15 Amps||12 Amps|