AFCI breaker pigtail gauge

Hey all,

I just bought some new combination AFCI breakers and noticed that the pigtail that is supposed to be wired to the panel neutral is 14awg, even though the breaker is rated 20 amps. I thought 20 amps is supposed to be on 12awg? So, if a 20 amp circuit is loaded to 80%, that's 16 amps, which is more than what 14awg should handle. So, my question is, do I wire the circuit neutral and pigtail to the neutral bar, or do I wire the circuit neutral to the breaker as required and the pigtail to the bar, risking 16+ amps through 14awg?
 

Dennis Alwon

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Chapel Hill, NC
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
I had not noticed that-- are you certain it is 15 amp? If so then I don't know what to say other than a tap rule. Some dimmers also have tails that are 14 gauge or even smaller.
 

edward

Senior Member
Hey all,

...........So, my question is, do I wire the circuit neutral and pigtail to the neutral bar, or do I wire the circuit neutral to the breaker as required and the pigtail to the bar, risking 16+ amps through 14awg?
your branch circuit Neutral has to go to the breaker then the breaker pig tail from the breaker to the neutral bar.
 
I'm not a professional electrician, but my idea of open air is the service wiring from the pole to the weather head. And the reason I'm questioning it is because everything I've been taught is 14awg for 15 amps and 12awg for 20 amps. I recognize that Eaton has put a lot of thought and effort into making sure this is right, but then again, why do we have product recalls?
 

iwire

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Massachusetts
This is what the directions say as well. However, that means potentially putting 20 amps through a 14awg pigtail.
Which is absolutely fine, the NEC conductor ratings do not apply to manufactures.

And even if they did the NEC rating of 14 AWG is 20 amps @ 75C and 25 amps @ 90 C.
 

iwire

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Massachusetts
the reason I'm questioning it is because everything I've been taught is 14awg for 15 amps and 12awg for 20 amps.
But that is not really true or is not always the case.

Under the NEC we can use 14 AWG at ampacites above 15 amps for a number of things.

Motors, welders, HVAC units and many if not all the items listed in Table 240.4(G)
 

curt swartz

Electrical Contractor - San Jose, CA
Location
San Jose, CA
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
Years GFCI receptacles didn't have screw terminals. They had 5 wires hanging off the back similar to dimmer switches. The wires were always #14 even though the GFCI was 20 amp feed through rated. I think SquareD was the only manufacture of GFCI receptacles with screw terminals.

I have connected many GE ranges rated at 12KW and the factory wire leads were #12.
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
Big difference between a short length of conductor like what is on that breaker and a long run of same sized conductor. A 14 AWG may or may never overheat a longer run installed in your home, but NEC doesn't really give us a choice as it has decided that worst case we do need at least 12 AWG for a 20 amp circuit.

The pigtail on the breaker however is not covered by NEC it is covered by listing requirements as it is a part of a listed item, and apparently 14 AWG has been determined to be acceptable for this application.
 
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