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Why is an undersized wire between a circuit breaker and a whole-house surge protector device acceptable?
Wednesday, December 26, 2018
The wires connected to each breaker in an electric panel should be the right size, and specifically not too small, for the rating of the breaker. Undersize wiring may overheat when too much current is flowing through it and start a fire before the mismatched breaker trips. It’s one of the things we check when opening a panel during an inspection. A 50-amp breaker, for example, should be connected to a #6 wire if it’s copper.
But, according to manufacturers, standard rules don’t apply when the breaker is connected to a whole-house surge protector because the wires do not actually carry a load current. Instead, they support only short-duration currents associated with a transient surge event. So, for example, a #14 wire, which would normally only be acceptable for a 15-amp breaker, can be used for connecting the 50-amp breaker to a Type 2 surge protector.
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