# What is the Right Wire Size for 60A Breaker and Outlet?

**How to Determine the Suitable Wire Size for a 60A Breaker and Load Circuits Based on NEC?**

A 60-amp breaker and outlet are commonly used for heavy-duty high-power devices. Examples loads circuits are electric furnaces, HVAC equipotent, furnaces, and subpanels in both residential and industrial applications. These circuits require careful planning to ensure the correct wire size is selected, which is crucial for both safety and efficiency. This article outlines how to choose the appropriate wire size for a 60A breaker and outlet following the guidelines of the National Electrical Code (NEC).

The correct wire size for a 60-amp circuit is **#4 AWG copper** or **#3 AWG aluminum** according to NEC tables. However, factors such as voltage drop, distance, insulation type, ambient temperature, and the type of conductor play critical roles in determining the proper wire size. Always consult a licensed electrician to verify compliance with the NEC and ensure the proper installation of your wiring system.

*Related Post: What is the Correct Wire Size for 55A Breaker and Load?*

**Factors Affecting Wire Size**

When selecting the wire size for a 60-amp breaker and outlet, you must consider several factors e.g.:

**Voltage Drop**: The longer the wire run, the greater the voltage drop. For wire runs exceeding 50 feet, it is advisable to increase the wire size to compensate for this drop and ensure efficient power delivery.**Temperature Rating**: The ampacity of the wire depends on the temperature rating of the wire insulation.- At
**60°C (140°F)**, a #4 AWG copper wire can carry**65A**. - At
**75°C (167°F)**, a #4 AWG copper wire can carry**85A**.

- At
**Type of Wire Insulation**: Common wire types used for 60A circuits include THHN (Thermoplastic High Heat-resistant Nylon-coated) or THWN (Thermoplastic Heat and Water-resistant Nylon-coated), both of which offer durability and are suitable for higher temperatures.

**What is the Right Wire Size for a 60-Amp Circuit?**

According to the NEC Table 310.15(B)(16) (previously Table 310.16), the appropriate wire size for a 60-amp circuit is #4 AWG for copper or #3 AWG for aluminum. Keep in mind the exact wire size depends on the material of the conductor either copper or aluminum and other factors such as temperature and voltage drop.

Based on the NEC tables and charts, you may **use** **#4 AWG** **copper or #3 AWG aluminum wire for a 60-amp breaker, outlet or subpanel**. It is recommended to use solid copper instead of aluminum or stranded conductors as it has higher electrical resistance and lower conductivity than copper.

The ampacity of #4 gauge copper and 3 gauge aluminum wire at different ambient temperatures is as follows:

**#4 AWG Copper**

- 70 amps at 60°C (140°F)
- 85 amps at 75°C (167°F)
- 95 amps at 90°C (194°F)

**#3 AWG Aluminum**

- 65 amps at 60°C (140°F)
- 75 amps at 75°C (167°F)
- 85 amps at 90°C (194°F)

These wire sizes are based on NEC Table 310.15(B)(16) and account for different temperature ratings, which influence how much current the wire can safely carry.

**
**

**Good to Know:**

- The correct wire size for a 60A breaker is
**#4 AWG**copper or**#3 AWG**aluminum. - A 60A breaker is typically used for large, single appliances as a dedicated circuit.
**120V circuits**: Use**4-2 with ground**wire for 60A breaker and outlet.**240V circuits**: Use**4-3 with ground**wire for 60A breaker and outlet.**240V with neutral**: Use**4-4 with ground**for 60A breaker and outlet (e.g., for NEMA 14-60R outlets).- You may use a 60-amp, 240V outlet on a 60-amp breaker only.
- You may use A 60A, 240V outlet as dedicated circuit for single unit only.
- For long-distance runs (over 50 feet or 15.25 meters), consider upgrading to a larger gauge wire to compensate for voltage drop. The NEC recommends adding 20% more ampacity for every 100 feet (30.50 meters) of distance.

**How to Select the Correct Wire Size for a 60A Breaker and Outlet?**

Let’s look at how to select the correct wire size for a 60A breaker and outlet, accounting for continuous and non-continuous load circuits.

**Example**:

What is the correct wire size for a 60-Amp (either 1-pole, 120V or 2-pole, 240V) breaker and outlets to use in both continuous and non-continuous load circuits according to NEC guidelines?

**Continuous Load Circuit**

The NEC 125% rule dictates that the maximum overcurrent protection device (OCPD) should handle 125% of the continuous load (defined as loads operating for 3 hours or more). This rule limits the circuit to no more than 80% of the breaker’s capacity.

For a 60A breaker:

60A × 80% = **48A**

Therefore, you should not connect more than 48 amps to the breaker on a continuous basis. In cases where the load’s nameplate specifies a minimum circuit ampacity (MCA) of 48A, the breaker size should be calculated as:

48A × 125% = **60A**

Based on the NEC Table 310.15(B)(16), **#4 AWG copper wire** (or #AWG aluminum) is suitable for carrying up to 65A at 75°C, or 85A at 75°C.making it the correct size for a 60A breaker in most cases.

**Non-continuous Load Circuit**

For non-continuous loads (e.g., short-term usage like general lighting), the breaker can handle the full 60 amps without derating. This applies to circuits used for outlets, lighting, or other general-purpose uses, where the load does not run continuously for 3 hours or more. Hence, for a non-continuous load drawing 60 amps, a #4 AWG copper wire is also sufficient, as it can carry up to **65A** at 60°C.

**Good to Know:**Always consider voltage drop in longer distance circuits and ambient temperature when selecting the wire size.

*Related Post: What is the Right Wire Size for 45A Breaker and Load?*

**How Many Amps Can a 60-Amp Breaker and Outlet Safely Handle?**

The NEC specifies that a breaker should not be loaded to more than 80% of its capacity for continuous loads. Therefore, a 60A breaker and outlet should be used for:

**48-Amp**continuous load circuits. (60A × 80% = 48A)**60-Amp**non-continuous load circuits.

This adheres to NEC Sections 210.19(A), 215.2, and 230.42(A).

**
**

**Good to know:**Use a 60A breaker and outlet for

**48A continuous**load circuits or maximum

**60A non-continuous**load circuits.

**How Many Watts Can a 60-Amp Breaker and Outlet Hold?**

To determine the power handling capacity of a 60A breaker, we use the formula:

$Watts=Volts×Amps$

**120V Circuit**:

A 1-P, 60A breaker on a 120V circuit can hold:

- 60A × 120V =
**7,200W** - Continuous load: 60A × 80% =
**48A**- 48A × 120V =
**5,760W**

- 48A × 120V =

Therefore, you can connect up to **5,760 watts** of load on a single pole, 60A breaker with a 120V circuit.

**Good to know:**The highest allowed outlet to be used in an 120V circuit is 50A outlet i.e. NEMA-5-50R for 120V circuit e.g. dryer, for 240V circuit, NEMA 14-50R are used. A 14-60R receptacle are used with 60A breaker in 240V circuit. For other applications, you may use a 60A breaker as a sub-panel to use more 15A or 20A outlets for 120V circuits.

**240V Circuit**:

A 2-P, 60A breaker in a 240V circuit holds:

- 60A × 240V =
**14,400W** - Continuous load: 60A × 80% =
**48A**- 48A × 240V =
**11,520W**

- 48A × 240V =

You can connect up to **11,520 watts** of load on a two pole, 60A breaker in a 240V circuit. Similarly, you can wire a 60A breaker with a 240V, 60A outlet such as NEMA 14-60R, 15-60 or 18-60R..

**
**

**Good to know:**A 60A breaker can handle a maximum of

**7,200W**and safely

**5,760W**in a

**120V circuit**, while it can handle a maximum of

**14,400W**and safely

**11,520W**in a

**240V circuit**.

**How Many Outlets Can be Put on a 60A Breaker?**

A 60A breaker is generally intended for a **dedicated circuit** serving a single high-power device. It is not recommended to wire multiple outlets to a 60A breaker, as this could overload the circuit. NEC Table 210.21(B)(3) restricts the number of outlets based on the branch circuit size. The code permits to use only one outlet for a dedicated device with a 60A breaker.

**Suitable Cable Types for a 60A Breaker and Outlet**

When choosing a cable for a 60-amp breaker, it’s essential to select an appropriate insulation type and wire size based on the material.

**Copper Wire**: Use**#4 AWG**wire with**THHN**or**THWN**insulation for a durable and high-temperature-rated connection.**Aluminum Wire**: Use**#3 AWG**aluminum wire, ensuring the insulation is rated for the required temperature, such as**THHN**or**XHHW**insulation.

**Applications of 60-Amp Breakers and Outlets**

60-amp breakers are typically used for high-power appliances and circuits, including:

- Large electric furnaces and water heaters
- Central air conditioning systems
- Subpanels in garages or workshops
- Large electric ovens or stoves
- Residential RVs (Recreational Vehicles)
- Level 2 EV Chargers

*Related Post: What is the Suitable Wire Size for a 35A Breaker and Load?*

**Good to Know**:

- The ampere rating of a single receptacle on an individual branch circuit must not exceed the branch circuit’s rating.
- The calculations for breaker and wire sizes above apply only to purely resistive load circuits, such as lighting.
- For inductive loads like motors or HVAC systems, refer to NEC Article 440, especially sections 440.22 and 440.32. If unsure, consult an HVACR contractor or licensed electrician.
- A 60A branch circuit requires #4 AWG copper wire or #3 AWG aluminum wire, according to NEC Table 310.15(B)(16) (formerly 310.16) and section 210.24.
- A 60A breaker and outlet can support a 48A continuous load and a 60A non-continuous load, per NEC sections 210.19(A), 215.2, and 230.42(A).
- It is against code to use a 60A outlet on a 50A breaker to draw more than 50A.
- A 60A receptacle can be used on a 50A breaker only when you draw no more than 50A non-continuous or 40A continuous load from the outlet. Labeling for identification is recommended.
- It’s also against code to use smaller wire gauges, like #6 or #8 AWG, instead of #4 AWG with a 60A breaker and receptacle.
- According to NEC 210.21(B)(3), it’s permissible to use a 50A or two 60A outlets on a 60A circuit if there are multiple receptacles and only one is operational at a time. The total load must not exceed 60A, such as when breakers feed branch circuits in a subpanel.
- Important Note: When installing a 60A outlet on a 60A circuit, dedicate it to a single appliance or outlet with a maximum load of 48A. Drawing more than 48A continuously will overheat the circuit and could cause serious injury or fire hazards.
- For optimal safety, consult a licensed electrician to verify the appropriate wire size for your specific installation, ensuring compliance with NEC standards.

**Resources:**

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- What is the Right Wire Size for a 4.8kW, 240V Range: #10 or #12?
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- Wire and Cable Size Calculator in AWG
- Electrical Wire and Cable Size Calculator (Copper & Aluminum)