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Long Distance Electrical Wiring

How to Install and Connect Long Distance Electrical Wiring: Ohms Law and Voltage Drop Calculations, Increased Wire Sizes and Connections to Electrical Devices, Sizing the Circuit Breaker.


Guide for Installing Long Distance Electrical Wires

Electrical Question: Can wires be trimmed down to fit into terminals or lugs or should I pull the wire out and replace it with smaller gauge wire?

  • I have a hen house that I ran 4 #6 wires to, it was a great distance to the electrical panel.
  • Because I had extra #6 wire and didn’t want to buy smaller wire on top of that I ran the #6 wire to the outlets I wanted in there.
  • Naturally I discovered that the wire was too big to wire the 20 amp outlets I bought.
  • Can these wire be “trimmed down” to fit or should I pull that wire out and replace it with smaller gauge wire?

This electrical wiring question came from: Robert, a Homeowner from Oregon City, OR.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Robert.

How to Install and Connect Long Distance Electrical Wiring

  • Installing Wire Over a Long Distance
    There are a few details that are not provided in this question about your installation, however if the distance from the panel to the point of use was great then voltage drop can be an issue.
  • Ohms Law and Voltage Drop Calculations
    Calculating the wire size will depend on how much amperage or load the electrical circuit will require and what the actual length or distance of the wire will be.
  • Increased Wire Sizes and Connections to Electrical Devices
    The wire size will then be based on a calculations which will factor in this information. Because wire sizes may be increased due to a long distance, short lengths of reduced wire size may be used for connecting devices such as outlets and switches to the circuit wire.
  • Sizing the Circuit Breaker
    The circuit breaker must be sized to the smallest wire size, depending on the specific type of wire and the device being connected.
  • Outdoor Circuits
    Outdoor circuits especially in livestock areas must be protected by a GFCI device such as a GFI circuit breaker.
  • Local Code Compliance
    Please check with your local building department for applicable codes, permits and inspections.

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