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What Gauge Is Dryer Wire? (All You Need to Know)

We use technology everyday that makes our lives much easier and take care of all the mundane tasks that would otherwise waste hours. Therefore it is crucial for us to be careful when we choose to get a new home appliance. 

One such appliance is the dryer and in order to learn how to use it properly, follow along!

What gauge is dryer wire?

As clothes dryer wires have to conduct 30 amps of current in their circuit, the wire has to be thick enough to accommodate the current flow. Most manufacturers produce a wire size minimum of 10 gauge, however, wires of larger gauges are recommended since amperage decreases with distance.

Electric Dryer Wires are non-metallic sheathed cables that are used for wiring residential electrical supply lines. 

Wire for dryer heating element:

These wires need to be heavy duty because the electric dryer has to simultaneously produce heat, tumble their drum and run the timer which requires special wiring. 

Therefore, the current supply needs to be around 30 amps in the dryer circuit which can be accommodated by a minimum wire size of 10 gauge.

However, most manufacturers recommend the use of larger cables because the amperage decreases with the distance so you need to use a suitable cable size according to the distance of your dryer and the electric outlet. 

For example, if the distance between the dryer circuit and the electric outlet is about or more than 15 feet, then you would need to use a larger wire – such as the 8 gauge wire. 

But the specific wire gauge depends on various factors such as the distance from the outlet, the local area or building electrical code as well as the manufacturer’s specification. Thus, it is advised that you first check the local area or building code for the specific wiring requirements.

Wire for dryer outlet:

As for the dryer outlet, the wiring process has some complications – because cables are not the only thing you need to worry about. 

During installation, you need to make sure you have the correct wire gauge for the dryer outlet which matches the outlet type as well as is fitted to a suitable circuit breaker. 

Wire for dryer cord and plug:

Another thing to factor in is the wire gauge requirement for the dryer cord and the plug since they often have different electrical demands depending on the brand of electrical dryer. If your dryer is meant to handle heavy-duty work, then you would need a cable of higher gauge.

What determines the dryer wire size?

Using the correct wire size for your electric dryer is excessively essential because using the wrong wire size could result in damaging your dryer. There are several factors of both your electric dryer and your local area that determines what your dryer’s wire size should be

Since the wire draws power for the dryer from the circuitry of your house, the amount of amps the wire should draw depends on the circuit breaker of your house as well as the mains panel.

For example, most common dryers use 30 amps, for which you would require 10 gauge wire but for dryers that need around 40 amps, you would need to use a higher gauge wire such as an 8 gauge. 

You need to remember that higher gauge size represents a thinner wire, thus if your dryer has a higher amp demand, then you need a wire of lower gauge.

What gauge wire for 220-volt and 110-volt dryers?

Dryers of different amperage demands need wires of different but suitable gauges, but this behavior is also applicable for dryers having different working voltages as well. 

Commonly there are dryers of four working voltages, however they are classified into two types: One is the 220-volt/240-volt dryer and the other is 110-volt/120-volt dryer.

220-volt/240-volt dryer:

Electric dryers of 220/240 volts with a 30 amp circuit breaker should be connected using a 10/3 gauge wire. As for the receptacle type, you should always use a 4-prong receptacle but if you have a 3-prong outlet then you can also use 3-prong wires.

110-volt/120-volt dryer:

And for electric dryers of 110/120 volt, you should use wires of 12 or 14 gauge. If your circuit breaker is 15 amp, use the 14 gauge wire but if your breaker is 20 amp – then use the 12 gauge wire. 

As for receptacle type, you should use the 4-prong receptacle but if your house has a 3-prong outlet, then you can use 3-prong wires in your dryer as well.

Can you use these wires for a dryer?

There are a variation of wires available to be used on dryers, therefore in the list below you can find which gauge wires are suitable for which dryers:

6/3 gauge wire:

The 6/3 gauge is a high gauge wire and therefore is suitable for use on dryers that have a high amp circuit breaker. Therefore, you need to check whether your dryer is connected to a 60 amp breaker –  if so, your dryer is suitable for using 6/3 gauge wire.

8/2 gauge wire:

The 8/2 gauge wire is commonly used in many electric dryers because most commonly dryers use a 30 amp circuit breaker. 

Lighter dryers with 30 amp breakers are also commonly seen to use 10 gauge wire, but it is better to use 8/2 gauge wires for all electric dryers that use 30 amp breakers.

10/2 gauge wire:

The 10/2 gauge wire is used primarily on electric dryers with working voltage of 220/240 voltage with a 30 amp circuit breaker. The 10/2 gauge is specifically used for dryers that do not require the neutral – this wire shares the neutral and the ground. 

NEC does not permit this type of wire if grandfathered to your dryer with bare ground.

10/3 gauge wire:

Similar to the 10/2 gauge wire, the 10/3 gauge wire is also used on 220/240 volt electric dryers with a 30 amp breaker. However, the 10/3 gauge wire has a neutral wire and ground wire in addition to the two hot wires.

12/3 gauge wire:

The 12/3 gauge wire is a thin wire that is used for dryers with a low amperage circuit breaker such as 20 amps. 

Why wire gauge is important?

There are a large variety of wire gauges available in the market which might be confusing as to which wire gauge to use for your dryer. 

Neglecting this aspect and using any wire gauge for your dryer could have several consequences on both your dryer and the structures surrounding it as well. Below discussed are some of the reasons why choosing the correct wire gauge for your dryer is important:

Preventing damage to your dryer:

The wire gauge is used to measure the cross section area of a wire and give a measurement of how much current a wire can carry without the risk of damage. 

If you use a wire gauge that flows higher than the dryer’s capacity, then it would damage the dryer’s circuit and cause them to fry. And if the gauge allows less current flow, then your dryer will struggle to function properly and will lead it to being damaged.

Prevents fire hazards:

In case you use a lower gauge wire on a dryer that has a lower amp circuit breaker, then you run the risk of fire hazard. 

Excessive flow of current into the dryer may not only fry the internal circuit but may also initiate a fire and cause the dryer to catch on fire, therefore choosing the right gauge is important.

Prolonging the lifespan of your dryer:

If you choose the wrong gauge for your dryer, it may function as intended without having its internal circuitry fried. However, the circuitry will still be gradually damaged and thus reduce the longevity of the dryer.

What if you don’t use the right size wire for the dryer?

Using the wrong wire gauge for your wire could pose several issues for your dryer and some could even be dangerous for your house as well. Below are some of the consequences of using the wrong wire size:

Burn the internal components of the dryer:

Higher current flows through lower gauge wires, so if you use it on a dryer or lower amp breakers, then the excessive current could burn the internal components of the dryer.

Cause fire hazards:

If the difference between the wire size used and the suggested wire size for the dryer is too large, then the circuit could catch fire from the burnt circuitry.

Reduce the lifespan of your dryer:

Using a different wire size would damage the dryer over time and reduce its durability and longevity.

Final thoughts

Due to the fact that clothes dryer wires must carry 30 amps of current in their circuit, the wire must be thick enough to accommodate the current flow. Most manufacturers create a wire size of at least 10 gauge; however, larger gauge wires are suggested because amperage diminishes with distance.