How Many Watts Can 6 Gauge Wire Handle? How Many Amps 6 AWG?

6 AWG wire is one of the most common gauge wires. As with any wire, the key questions here are how many watts can a 6 gauge wire handle and how many amps can a 6 gauge wire handle. We are, of course, talking maximum allowable amps and watts throughout this article.

Ampacity and wattage of 6 AWG wire need to be understood in-depth in order to avoid frying your circuit.

how many amps can you put on a 6 gauge wire
If you put too many amps on a 6 gauge wire (more than 60 amps), the wires can catch fire.

We need to be aware that 6 gauge wire amps and watts depend on two additional factors, in addition to the gauge factor (which determines the diameter of a wire). These two factors are:

  • Wire material. We have to differentiate between 6 gauge copper and 6 gauge aluminum wire. Example: Median ampacity at 75°C (167°F) for copper wire is 65 amps and for 6 gauge aluminum wire is 50 amps.
  • Temperature. At different temperatures, a 6 gauge wire can handle different watts and amps.

On top of that, we also have to account for the 80% NEC (National Electrical Code) rule. This rule states that no 6 AWG wire can be loaded over 80% of its rated ampacity. We will explain what this means later on.

Here’s the quick take:

  • 6 gauge wire can handle anywhere from 32 amps to 60 amps (check 6 Gauge Wire Amps Chart further on). This depends on copper vs aluminum wire and temperature.
  • 6 gauge wire can handle anywhere between 384 watts to 14.400 watts (check 6 Gauge Wire Wattage Chart further on). 6 gauge wire wattage primarily depends on voltage (at low 12V we will get much less power than at high 240V voltage), and secondarily on wire material and temperature.

The main thing we need to figure out first is how many amps can a 6 gauge wire handle. When we get the amps the 6 AWG wire can conduct, we can easily calculate the 6 AWG wattage at different voltages (12V, 24V, 110V, 120V, 220V, 240V).

How Many Amps Can A 6 Gauge Wire Handle?

Gauge or AWG number tells us is a measure of the diameter of the wire (thickness, if you will). What we really want to know, however, is the ampacity; this is a measure of how many amps can a 6 AWG wire handle.

The ampacity of all 6 gauge wires also depends on the material the wire is made out of and the temperature. Namely, copper 6 gauge wires can handle more amps than aluminum wire, and the ampacity of all wires is higher at higher temperatures due to the inverse relationship between electrical resistance and temperature, and therefore electrical current (according to the Ohm’s law).

We can use this AWG wire chart for all wire sizes, including 6 AWG wire, to get the ampacity. In the chart, we only have the median ampacity at 75°C (167°F) for 6 AWG copper wire.

Here is the full table of 6 AWG wire ampacities for 3 different temperatures for 6 gauge copper and aluminum wires:

6 AWG Copper Wire Ampacity

Ampacity At 60°C (140°F): Ampacity At 75°C (167°F): Ampacity At 90°C (194°F):
55 Amps 65 Amps 75 Amps

6 AWG Aluminum Wire Ampacity

Ampacity At 60°C (140°F): Ampacity At 75°C (167°F): Ampacity At 90°C (194°F):
40 Amps 50 Amps 55 Amps

These ampacities don’t directly translate into how many amps can a 6 gauge wire handle. That means that we can’t really put 65 amps on a 6 gauge copper wire at 75°C (167°F) despite the ampacity being 65A.

We need to account for NEC 80% rule. This is a safety rule that prevents us from overloading wires. We can only load any wire to 80% of its rated ampacity.

In practice, that means that we can load 6 gauge copper wire with 65A ampacity with 52 amp load. Here is how this is calculated:

Max. Amp Load (Accounting For 80% NEC Rule) = 65A Ampacity × 0.8 = 52 Amps

This is how many amps a 6 AWG copper wire at 75°C (167°F)  can handle. Here is the complete amps table for 6 AWG wires for both copper and aluminum wires and all 3 temperatures:

6 Gauge Wire Amps Chart

Wire Material: Max. Amp Load At 60°C (140°F) Max. Amp Load At 75°C (167°F) Max. Amp Load At 90°C (194°F)
6 AWG Copper Wire 44 Amps 52 Amps 60 Amps
6 AWG Aluminum Wire 32 Amps 40 Amps 44 Amps

As you can see, the maximum number of amps a 6 gauge wire can handle is 60 amps. This is the 6 AWG copper wire at 90°C (194°F).

Now that we have the amps, we can calculate how many watts can a 6 AWG wire carry:

How Many Watts Can A 6 Gauge Wire Handle?

The wattage of 6 AWG wire is calculated using a simple electric power equation:

P = I × V or Watts = Amps × Volts

We already know the amps (that is I – electrical current – in the formula above). All we need to know to calculate how many watts can a wire gauge handle are the volts (that is V – voltage – in the formula above).

measuring amps and watts 6 gauge wire can handle
Wattmeter measures both amps and volts to calculate the wattage.

Example: Let’s say that we have a 6 gauge copper wire running on a standard 120V circuit. Let’s also presume that we have a median 75°C (167°F) temperature. How many watts can this 6 AWG wire handle?

We know that the voltage is 120V and we can read from the table above that the max. allowable amps are 52A. To get the watts, we just multiply amps by volts like this:

6 AWG Wire Wattage (120V, 75°C) = 52A × 120V = 6,240 Watts

Here you have it:

A 6 AWG wire on a 120V circuit can handle 6,240 watts. Of course, we need to think about what happens with the power 6 gauge wire can deliver if we have lower voltage (12V or 24V battery voltage, or 110V) or higher voltage (220V or 240V). At a lower voltage, the 6 AWG will deliver less power than at a higher voltage. How much less and more exactly?

Here is the calculated chart of how many watts can both copper and aluminum wires handle at the median 75°C (167°F) temperature (this also counts for the NEC 80% rule):

6 Gauge Wire Wattage Chart

Voltage (V): 6 AWG Copper Wire Wattage: 6 AWG Aluminum Wire Wattage:
12 Volts 624 Watts 480 Watts
24 Volts 1,248 Watts Or 1.248 kW 960 Watts
110 Volts 5,720 Watts Or 5.72 kW 4,400 Watts Or 4.40 kW
120 Volts 6,240 Watts Or 6.24 kW 4,800 Watts Or 4.80 kW
220 Volts 11,440 Watts Or 11.44 kW 8,800 Watts Or 8.80 kW
240 Volts 12,480 Watts Or 12.48 kW 9,600 Watts Or 9.60 kW

Using this chart, you can figure out how many watts can a 6 AWG wire handle at 12V, 24V, 110V, 120V, 220V, and 240V voltage (for both copper and aluminum wires).

Example 1: Let’s say you are using copper 6 AWG wire on a 240V circuit. How many watts can it handle? A 6 gauge wire on 240V can handle 12,480 watts. This is 12.48 kW.

Example 2: Let’s say we are using a 6 AWG aluminum wire on a 12V battery. How many watts can a battery send through that 6 gauge wire? At maximum, the 6 AWG wire can provide 480W of power if connected to a 12V battery.

Hopefully, this explains how to go about finding how many amps and watts can a 6 AWG wire handle. If you have any questions regarding this, you can use the comments below, describe the situation, and we will help you out.

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