What Is 10 3 Wire Used For | Applications Explained

What is 10 3 wire used for? Well, this is a bit like asking how long is a piece of string. As the 10 3 has no single purpose other than to supply current from one point to another. So let’s discuss what 10 3 wire is and look at some of its most common applications around the home.

What Is 10 3 Wire?

A 10 3 wire includes three conductor wires plus a ground wire. The number 10 means it uses a 10-gauge wire for each of the live wires. With wire gauges, the lower the number the thicker the wire, and a higher number refers to a thinner wire. So 12-gauge is a thinner wire than 10-gauge. 

The wires inside the insulated outer layer include red or blue-coated and black-coated “hot” wires, a white-coated neutral, and sometimes either a bare copper or a green-coated ground wire.

What Is the Difference Between 10 2 and 10 3 Wire?

As previously mentioned, the first number is gauge and the second number on the wire designation refers to how many conductive wires it contains. Therefore 10 2 and 10 3 are both 10-gauge, but the 10 2 has only two “conductor” wires while the 10 3 has three. Both of them have a ground wire.

What Is 10 3 Wire Used For?

A 10 3 wire has many uses, but one of the more common uses is to supply power to 220-volt outlets and provide electricity for appliances that require 30 amps or fewer. The four-pronged outlets the US uses for ranges and dryers are 220-volt outlets.

Some of the appliances that require outlets supplied by 10 3 wire are:

  • dryers
  • air conditioners
  • ovens
  • stoves

Can All Dryers Use 10 3 Wire?

Any dryer that requires 30 amps or fewer can use 10 3 wire. It is essential to check the amp requirements of the dryer before choosing 10 3 wires to run the outlet.

Can 10 3 Wire Be Run Underground?

A 10 3 wire can run underground safely if it has appropriate protection. Usually, a conduit prevents the cable from breaking. In some cases, you can run the wire without a conduit if you bury it deep, but using one is usually a better choice, required by most building codes.

If the goal is to supply an outbuilding, consult an electrician familiar with the building codes in the area. The project may require additional electrical panels or larger wires if the building requires it and if it is too far from the main electrical panel.

Should I Use 10 or 12-gauge Wire?

The main factor used to decide between the gauges of wire is what it is intended to power and the circuit breaker or fuse that is being used. For appliances needing 20 amps or fewer, 12-gauge wire is sufficient. The 10-gauge wire will power appliances needing up to 30 amps.

How Many Appliances Can You Run on a 10 3 Wire?

If an appliance requires 30 amps, it should be the only appliance on the circuit fed by 10 3 wires. You can use more appliances on a circuit if the machines use 20 amps or fewer.

An average refrigerator uses about six amps, so it is likely you could run it and microwave (10 amps) or a dishwasher (10-15 amps) on the same circuit that uses 10 3 wire, but not all three.

Can I Use 10-Gauge Wire for Outlets?

A 10-gauge wire is appropriate for outlets, as long as the outlet or breaker box does not limit the size. Small connectors may cause difficulty in connecting the wire.

It is not as easy to install 10 3 as the more common 12/2 because the 10-gauge wire is stiffer and bigger. Some outlet boxes are too small to accommodate 10 3 wires.

Because most wiring uses 12/2, the 10 3 will have an extra “hot” wire. Cap off the non-used wire at every junction to prevent it from touching something and conducting electricity. The other wires will connect as usual.

Though it is always safe to use a larger wire, it may not be reasonable due to size. Conduit fill limits and other space issues are potential deal-breakers. You should check for these issues before running the wire.

How far can you run 10 3 wire?

Copper 10 3 length within acceptable voltage drop range is:

  • 120 volt, single-phase, 30 amps – fifty feet
  • 120 volt, single-phase, 15 amps – one hundred feet
  • 240 volt, single-phase, 30 amps – one hundred feet
  • 240 volt, single-phase, 15 amps – two hundred feet

What is voltage drop?

Because wires cause resistance, lengthy wires have “voltage drop,” which means that the voltage becomes less as it travels along the wire after a certain point. The drop rate depends on the type of wire, amps, originating voltage, and phase.

Can You Mix 10-Gauge and 12-Gauge Wire?

You can mix two gauges of wire when properly done. For instance, when wiring an outlet made for 12- or 14-gauge only, 10-gauge can be used to the box then spliced with 12-gauge for the actual connection.

The breaker or fuse is contingent on the thinner wire. Since 10-gauge can handle up to 30 amps, but 12-gauge can only handle up to 20 amps, the breaker must be a 20-amp rather than a 30-amp breaker to meet code and be safe.

What Is 10 3 Wire Used For: Wrap Up

When installing dryers, ranges, air conditioners, or other appliances that require 20-30 amps, 10/3 wire is an excellent choice. It is also useful for multiple smaller appliances on one circuit, as long as they do not pull more than 30 amps together.

FAQ’s What Is 10 3 Wire Used For?

Here are some answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about 10 3 wire.