Electric Cable Sizes and Amp Ratings for the UK (2024)

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Find out about cable sizes for electrical use in the UK and 1.5mm and 2.5mm and other Electric cables and the current they carry. Also learn about what electric flexes and electric wires do and protected against overloading. Discover the different types of electrical flexes and cables that might be used in your home's wiring and how to protect them against overheating under loft or wall insulation. Additionally, discover What the building regulations and IET regulations say about the current ratings in electrical cables and find out what rules and regulations you should work to.

The electrical cables used to power the lights and appliances in your home come in several different cable sizes, primarily to accommodate the amount of current required to run the items that are drawing power from it.

All cables are rated to carry a specific amperage meaning that the load imposed on them should be no more than they are able to safely carry.

This can be further complicated by the location in which they will be installed and how effetely a given cable will be able to disperse heat e.g. a cable installed in an empty stud wall will dissipate heat much easier than a cable in a loft that buried under 200mm of insulation, so this needs to be considered also.

With this in mind, ultimately the appliances or items that will draw power from the circuit and the location in which cables will run that decides on the size of cable required.

To learn about all the different sized electrical cables that are used in your home and how they should be used, read on below.

What Size Cables for Lighting Circuits?

The Cable sizes for domestic lighting circuits is usually 1mm or 1.5mm twin and earth cable (aka two core and earth). In most cases 1mm should be fine but depends on how many lights are on the circuit and how long the cable run is. If quite a few are required or the cable run is over a long distance, then 1.5mm cable should be used to cope with supply demand and voltage drop.

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What Size Cables for Sockets?

In most domestic situations the cable size used for sockets on a ring main or radial main is 2.5mm twin and earth cable.

The size of cable used for sockets needs to be larger than that used for lighting circuits because that it will have to cope with more load due to the number of different appliances with different power supply needs that could potentially be plugged in.

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What About Other Cable Sizes?

Aside from the 3 most commonly used cable sizes of 1, 1.5 and 2.5mm twin and earth there are in fact several other larger sizes of cable that include 4mm, 6mm, 10mm and 16mm. These are mostly used for appliances and objects that require much more electrical power to operate or special use situations. Even larger sizes of cable include 25, 35, 50, 70,95, 120, 150 all the way up to 1000 square mm, over 20 different sizes in total.

The situations in which you would use a larger cable size really depends. As mentioned, appliances such as electric power showers, large cookers, electric car chargers etc will all draw larger amounts of current so will generally require a larger size cable to supply the required current and prevent too much current being drawn which can cause overheating and the potential for the cable to catch fire!

A larger size cable may also be used in situations where an electric supply ends to be run over a long distance. Using the incorrect size cable in this case may result in a fairly large amperage drop resulting in not enough electrical power actually making it to the end of the cable.

What About the Size of the Earth Wire?

The cross sectional area of the earth wire in a 1.5mm cable is 1mm and in a 2.5mm cable it is 1.5mm.

This should be sufficient for most domestic socket and lighting circuits.

What Does 1.5mm or 2.5mm Cable Mean?

1.5mm and 2.5mm is the cross sectional area of the individual live or neutral wires in the 1.5mm or 2.5mm cable. This is not the combined cross sectional area. Each one of the live and neutral wires has a cross sectional area of 1.5mm or 2.5mm.

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If you snip one of the wires and look at one of the wires face down you will see it’s cross section. Obviously this is a circle. The area, or cross sectional area of this circle is 1.5 square mm or 2.5 square mm.

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This cross sectional area. or in more simple terms the area of the exposed face of the wire, does not include the insulation around it. It is purely the area of the copper wire.

How do I Calculate the Diameter of the Wire and Determine Cable Sizes?

As we have established above, how you identify electrical cable size is through the size of wire it houses e.g .1.5mm cable houses 1.5mm wire.

In most instances, the size of cable should be printed on the sheath, but if not you will need to calculate the diameter of the wire to determine its size, which means working out the area of a circle e.g. the circular piece of wire.

The calculation for the area of a circle is to multiply the radius (half the circle diameter) by itself to get the radius squared. This is then multiplied by Pi (Π) which is approximately 3.142. This calculation is written as shown in the image below.

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To calculate the diameter of the wire when knowing only the area, the equation has to be done backwards.

The area is divided by 3.142 (Π) and the square root (√) of the answer is the radius (r). Multiply the radius by 2 and you have the diameter.

Why are Different Cables and Flexes Used for Different Things?

Different cables and flexes are used for different jobs because they are thicker and can carry more current and have more, or less resistance.

Resistance can be thought of as electrical friction and the wires in the cable or flex will absorb some of the energy in the current, allowing a little less to reach the target than was sent.

High energy users such as electric showers, cookers and immersion heaters are supplied by thicker wires than (for example) a radio as the current that the appliance needs is considerably greater.

Cables supplying circuits etc should be sized as per the following cable ratings table below.

The methods mentioned in the table below are methods for how the cable runs through the home to carry the power from the consumer unit to the outlet.

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Please note again that installation of cables depends on the location they are to be installed in.

Also taken into consideration is the temperature of the area or void, the length of the cable run, the grouping of the points they serve and the type of device (Fuse, RCD etc) by which they are protected.

It is vital to remember that values for cables and flexes can change in domestic situations. A cable in an insulated loft space will get hotter, much more quickly, than a cable looped through garage rafters. The suggested load it can carry is then less. Loading a cable with too many amps makes it hot, and hot cables are dangerous.

The Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET), formerly the Institute of Electrical Engineers (IEE) have decreed that cables can carry loads (measured in amps) according to not just their size, but according to the methods they are fixed (or otherwise) to any given surface. These methods are described below.

As with most formulas in the building trade there are regulations defining specific boundaries for the use of all materials. Factors such as resistance and voltage drop may need to be assessed and taken into consideration when working out cable runs.

The cable current rating for different fixing methods table below shows the methods by which cables are employed in a domestic dwelling and the permissible voltage drop via that cable and that particular method.

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Cable Ratings and Locations From On Site Guide to BS7671:2008 Plus Ammendment 3 2015

Note: The following information and regulations are specific to England and Wales.

We have abstracted a couple of the most popular tables for current rating of cables below. The rest, and the full table follows.

The first table below is for cables which are installed by Method 103 “Surrounded by thermal insulation including in a stud wall with thermal insulation with cable not touching the wall”.

The second table is for cables installed by Method C, "clipped direct". As you can see there is quite a difference in rating so be absolutely sure you are doing the right thing.

Also remember that while it is not an offence to make electrical installations yourself, it is an offence to use them without them having been checked by a qualified electrician.

Even a simple socket addition now has to have a minor works certificate!

The IET produce the On Site Guide to BS7671:2008+Amendment 3 2015 and cable sizes are noted, together with where they can go and which current they can carry.

The mixture of these two things is called a Method and there are 7 methods, they are as follows:

  • Method A – Enclosed in conduit in an insulated wall
  • Method B – Enclosed in conduit or trunking on a wall
  • Method C – Clipped direct
  • Method 100 – In contact with plasterboard, ceiling or joists, covered by thermal insulation not exceeding 100mm
  • Method 101 – In contact with plasterboard, ceiling or joists, covered by thermal insulation exceeding 100mm
  • Method 102 – In a stud wall with thermal insulation with cable touching the wall
  • Method 103 – Surrounded by thermal insulation including in a stud wall with thermal insulation with cable not touching the wall
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Your house insurance may not be valid if you do not comply with the regulations as you have a duty of care to protect anyone who enters your home.

Cable Size Ratings Tables in Amps

Table 1 – Method 103: Surrounded by thermal insulation including in a stud wall with thermal insulation with cable not touching the wall.

Cable sizeRating in Amps

Table 2 – Method C: Clipped Direct

Cable sizeRating in Amps

Once again please check and double check that you are sure about what you are doing. It is an offence to install unchecked wiring and your house insurance may not be valid if you do.

Full Cable Ratings and Methods

Here follows the cable rating in amps and cable size for each fixing method as defined in the onsite guide mentioned above.

The information below has been taken from Table 7(ii) from BS 7671:2008+A3 (amendment 3):2015

Installation reference methods and cable ratings for 70°C thermoplastic (PVC) insulated and sheathed flat cable with protective conductor.

(Scroll table right for full info)

Conductor Size (cable size)
Installer Description and Reference Method1.0mm2 (CS)1.5mm2 (CS)2.5mm2 (CS)4.0mm2 (CS)6.0mm2 (CS)10.0mm2 (CS)16.0mm2 (CS)
Method A11.5 A14.5 A20 A26 A32 A44 A57 A
Method B*13 A16.5 A23 A30 A38 A52 A69 A
Method C16 A20 A27 A37 A47 A64 A85 A
Method 10013 A16 A21 A27 A34 A45 A57 A
Method 10110.5 A13 A17 A22 A27 A36 A46 A
Method 10213 A16 A21 A27 A35 A47 A63 A
Method 1038 A10 A13.5 A17.5 A23.5 A32 A42.5 A
Voltage Drop (mV/A/m) (per ampere per metre)442918117.34.42.8
  • Cable ratings taken from Table 4D5 of BS 7671
  • B* = Taken from Table 4D2A of BS 7671 (App. F)
  • A = Cable rating in amps
  • (CS) = Conductor (cable) cross-sectional area in mm2

Once again please check and double check that you are sure about what you are doing.

It is an offence to install unchecked wiring and your house insurance may not be valid if you do.

Electrical Safety and Electrical Regulations – What you Need to be Aware of!

Warning: To complete electrical works you must comply with Electrical Regulations – Click here for more information.

Please also note Colours in these images are only representative and may not be the exact colours as found in your cables etc…. You will also want to read through our project on the New Wiring and Cable Colours.

Please remember when attempting any electrical installations at home that you are obliged to get the completed job tested by a fully qualified electrician and obtain a minor works certificate. Failure to do this may render your house insurance invalid and you may have difficulty selling your home.

As regular reader Louis who is an electrician from West Wickham says, it is worth engaging with a qualified electrician early so that you and they can agree how they will approve and then certify the work. After all it is their name on the certificate so if they are not 100% happy that they know that everything is perfect, they will not sign it off. You can find a reliable, local electrician here.

The UK Building Regulations will also need to be met for any electrical works. For information on these regulations, please see our project Part P building regulations.

We have compiled a quick PDF Guide for you to download with all the necessary information about cable sizes and amp ratings, however, as always all electrical work must be tested by a fully qualified electrician.

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Electrical Deaths and Accident Statistics

To show just how dangerous electricity can be, Electrical Safety First (a charitable organisation that campaigns, on behalf of consumers, for the upholding of and improvements on, all safety legislation in the UK) lists the accident and fatality statistics for all to see. We have published some statistics below.

Electric Cable Sizes and Amp Ratings for the UK (10)

A stunning fact is that around 2.5 million people in Great Britain receive electrical shocks each year and 350,000 of those suffer serious injury as a result. That’s pretty scary on it’s own, now read on!

Electric Cable Sizes and Amp Ratings for the UK (11)
Electric Cable Sizes and Amp Ratings for the UK (12)

Can I do my Own Electrical Work Indoors?

You are allowed to do some electrical work under Part P of the building regulations and our project page on Part P explains what you can and cant do.

Although you are able to do some work, it is suggested very very strongly that, to undertake any electrical work you should be a “competent” person.

For the benefit of reason, it is as well to explain that competent does not simply mean you can walk, talk, read and write.

It means that you must have the ability to test and electrical circuit for faults both before and after you have worked on it and then be able to record and communicate the reasons for any difference in the readings.

In it’s simplest form it should mean you have a full understanding of how to use and read a multi-meter.

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What is an Electrical Cable

Although we have delved quite deeply into cable sizes, amp ratings and many other aspects of the electric in your home we haven’t as yet really looked at what a cable is. The term cable, amongst other things, means "an encased group of insulated wires".

A cable is a fairly inflexible (although of course they can be bent) set of wires used to supply the electricity to certain points in your home.

Your meter box is supplied through a cable, sockets are supplied by cables and your ceiling and wall lights are fed through cables.

A cable can carry many wires depending on the job it needs to do. Most domestic cables carry a blue wire which is usually for the neutral current, a brown wire for a live current and a bare wire to take residual current to earth. This cable is called 2 core and earth, or twin and earth.

The previous colours for live and neutral wires were red and black respectively.

It is OK, when working on a building with the old colours, to joint the new to the old as long as the joint itself is done correctly.

For details of these changes please see the link to the Institute of Electrical Engineers. In essence, for domestic use, the cable wire colours will change to those of standard electrical flex colours.

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The bare wire, when the cable is used, should be marked with a green and yellow earth sleeve.

Another cable used a lot in domestic lighting is called 3 core and earth. The extra core (wire) is in an insulating sheath and is used as an extra conductor to carry power between 2 or more switches operating lights.

The brown wire in a 3-core and earth cable should always be used as permanent live. The other two are interchangeable as long as they are sheathed in order to make it obvious which cable is neutral (blue sheathing) and which is the other live (brown sheathing).

Special lighting switch cable can be bought. This is called "Twin red core" and is used as switch cable for your lights.

Often this is replaced by electricians, who use an ordinary 2 core and earth cable as a switch cable and place a little red tape around the black wire in the cable. See our project on lights and switches.

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Appliance Flex and why it is Used

Flex is short for flexible and the reality is that a flex is simply a flexible cable.

Flexible cables are used for appliances because appliances usually get moved around a lot and the inflexibility of a fixed cable, either 1.5mm or 2.5mm would soon crack the cable causing faults and potentially the risk of shock and injury.

Electric Cable Sizes and Amp Ratings for the UK (16)

Electricians Tools, VDE and a Word of Warning

Because of the danger of working with high voltages and high currents, electricians tools need to be completely and fully insulated. This insulation is usually safe up to 1000 volts.

The standards for electrical safety in electricians tools are set by a committee in Germany called the VDE or Verband der Elektrotechnik and they are very stringent as one would expect.

These rules make electricians tools quite expensive as a lot of work goes into them and a VDE approved screwdriver can cost as much as four times that of a normal screwdriver.

Please, if you are doing and electrical work, make sure you have the right VDE approved tools for the job and do not be tempted to save money by buying cheap imitations which will not be anywhere near as well insulated.

Electric Cable Sizes and Amp Ratings for the UK (17)

Books Making Electrical Wiring and Electric Lighting Easier

These books provides a great guide to wiring and lighting round the home. It should still be read with the knowledge that electricity is dangerous and you should check to ensure that you are actually allowed to do the work you would like.

Electric Cable Sizes and Amp Ratings for the UK (18)
Electric Cable Sizes and Amp Ratings for the UK (19)

All project content written and produced by Mike Edwards, founder of DIY Doctor and industry expert in building technology.

Electric Cable Sizes and Amp Ratings for the UK (2024)


Electric Cable Sizes and Amp Ratings for the UK? ›

Cable Size Ratings Tables in Amps
Cable sizeRating in Amps
2 more rows

What size is standard UK electrical cable? ›

Standard sizes have a conductor cross sectional area of 1, 1.5, 2.5, 4, 6 and 10 mm2. Sizes of 1 or 1.5 mm2 are typically used for 6 or 10 ampere lighting circuits and 2.5 mm2 for 20 ampere radial or 32 ampere ring socket circuits.

How many amps can 2.5 mm cable take UK? ›

A 2.5mm cable is capable of supplying around 23-25 amps depending on the method of installation, so is fine, safe and compliant on a 20amp circuit breaker.

How do I determine electrical cable size? ›

  1. Look at the insulation on the cable. Search for text written on the insulation. ...
  2. Cut the wire with your wire cutters. The cut should be perpendicular to the run of the wire.
  3. Measure the diameter of the cross-section in inches. ...
  4. Divide the diameter of the wire by .

Can 2.5 cable take 32 amps? ›


How many amps can a 6mm cable take? ›

32 Amps

Can 4mm cable carry 32 amps? ›

4mm clipped direct has a current rating of 37 Amps, all other installation methods drop that rating down to 32 Amps.

What amperage is 4mm cable? ›

Cable Size Ratings Tables in Amps
Cable sizeRating in Amps
2 more rows

What size is 32amp cable? ›

For a 32-amp hot tub, 6mm² 3-core SWA cable is needed and a 10mm² 3-core SWA cable is perfectly suitable for a 40-amp Hot Tub. The electrician will calculate the size of cable required depending on the loading and the distance from the mains supply.

What is 4mm cable used for? ›

4mm wire is air conditioning, kitchen and other high-power appliances. The size of the cross-sectional area of the wire indicates the ability of the wire to carry current.

How many amps can a 2.5 mm twin and earth cable take? ›

Ratings for Twin and Earth Electrical Cables

For example, the current-carrying capacity of 2.5mm twin and earth cable is 20 to 23 amps. These figures may vary depending on the quality of the cabling.

Can I use 4mm cable for sockets? ›

A good rule of thumb IME is that if the total length exceeds 100 meters, then consider use of 4mm. If the total cable length exceeds 120 meters, then definatly use 4mm.

How is cable size calculated UK? ›

To calculate the Cable Sizing one needs to divide the voltage running through the cable by the target current. For instance, If your wire has a voltage current of 150 Volts and your target is 30 then you divide 150/30. This gives you your target resistance of 5 which is required.

How many amps can a 16mm cable take? ›

16mm Twin And Earth Current Carrying Capacity
16mm57 Amps85 Amps
Jan 7, 2022

How many amps can a 1.5 mm cable take? ›

1.5mm Twin And Earth Current Carrying Capacity
1.5mm1.5mm twin and earth rating 14.5 Amps1.5mm twin and earth rating 20 Amps
Jan 7, 2022

What is the cable size for 30 amps? ›


“Twelve-gauge wire is good for 20 amps, 10-gauge wire is good for 30 amps, 8-gauge is good for 40 amps, and 6-gauge is good for 55 amps,” and “The circuit breaker or fuse is always sized to protect the conductor [wire].”

What cable do I need for 30 amp? ›

A 10-gauge wire

If you look into a 30 Amp wire size chart online, the recommended size is a minimum of 10-gauge wire. A 10-gauge wire can safely carry the amount of current loads supplied by a 30-amp circuit.

How many sockets can be on a 32A Ring Main? ›

How many sockets on a 32A ring main? There is no limit on how many sockets you can install on a 32-amp ring main. However, the maximum load for a circuit at any given time should be 7,500 watts.

Can 6mm cable Take 40a? ›

2 Answers from MyBuilder Electricians

6mm twin and earth cable (which this almost certainly is) can be backed up by a maximum of a 32a MCB, even lower if other factors are involved. You'll need that 10mm cable and a 40a MCB unfortunately as your shower is going to draw over 32a.

Can I run a 10.5 kW shower on 6mm cable? ›

Well 6mm tandE takes 47A... IF clipped direct, and not to0 long of a run, say about 10-15meters. That means that 6mm is ok for 10.5KW showers (SOMETIMES).

What size cable do I need for 40 amps? ›

40 AMP Wire Size

For a maximum of 40 amps, you'll need a wire gauge of 8. Many electric cooking appliances require 40 amps such as electric cooktops.

How many amps can a 4mm twin and earth carry? ›

I would summarise by saying that under ideal conditions, that 4mm twin with earth is fine on a 32 amp circuit.

What size cable do I need for 7.4 KW? ›

6mm, 32A MCB, 7.4kW load. perfectly normal.

Can you have a 32amp radial circuit? ›

To answer your first point, it depends on the size of the cable on the radial circuit in question. The usual 2.5mm cable should be protected by a breaker no larger than 20amps (if a radial circuit as opposed to a ring). If it is a 4mm cable or larger, then a 32amp breaker is sufficient.

What is 6mm cable used for? ›

6mm twin and earth contains brown and blue conductor cores with a bare earth which are protected by a durable PVC sheath. Typically used for supplying internal power to appliances such as electric showers, cooker and induction hobs, 6mm twin and eath cable is flat for easier installation into plaster.

What cable do I need for 32 amp cooker? ›

Domestic cookers are usually on a 32a MCB. In that case 4mm cable will do.

What cable do I need for 50 amps? ›

What Is The Appropriate Wire Size For a 50-Amp Circuit Breaker? According to the American Wire Gauge system, the appropriate wire gauge to use in conjunction with a 50-amp breaker is a 6-gauge wire. The 6-gauge copper conductor wire is rated up to 55 amps, making it the perfect choice for this circuit.

How many amps can a 35 mm cable take? ›

35mm 3 Core Armoured Cable

This cable has a current rating of 154 amps, meaning it is suitable for a variety of jobs, including; Large Mains Power Networks.

What is a 32 amp supply? ›

AMPs relate to the power required for your hot tub to perform. 13AMP (plug and play) is the power that most of your household items run off of. A 32AMP requires more power and you usually need a specific electrical supply installed by an electrician.

Is 2.5 mm cable OK for sockets? ›

2.5mm is commonly used for behind sockets, while 1-1.5mm is most often used for lights (depending on how many lights you have in a circuit).

Can you connect 2.5 mm cable to 4mm cable? ›

Yes, as a rule of thumb, but not an absolute requirement, If a ring final exceeds 100M in total length then it is usual to go up to 4mm cable to avoid excessive voltage drop.

How many KW can a 2.5 mm cable carry? ›

how many watts can a 2.5 mm cable take? 2.5 square BV wire, overhead wiring at 20 degrees, 220 volt power supply can be up to 4.4KW. Therefore, a 2.5 square BV wire can be used with a maximum of 4.4 KW.

How many amps can a 6mm twin and earth carry? ›

6mm twin and earth can take 47 amps.

How many amps can a 2 mm cable take? ›

Choosing the correct size cable
Conductor SizeCurrentMaximum power (Watts)
1.0 mm210 ampsUp to 2400 Watts
1.25 mm213 ampsUp to 3120 Watts
1.5 mm215 ampsUp to 3600 Watts
2.5 mm220 ampsUp to 4800 Watts
1 more row

How many sockets can you have on a 20 amp radial? ›

The answer to the question how many outlets on a 20 amp circuit is ten outlets. Always comply with the 80% circuit and breaker load rule, allowing a maximum load of 1.5 amps per receptacle. Remember that your circuit, wire sizes, and outlets must be compatible to avoid overheating and electrical hazards.

Is 2.5 mm twin and earth OK for sockets? ›

2.5mm Twin and Earth is commonly used as indoor domestic cable. The most common use for this type of cable is for circuits that provide power to sockets.

How many sockets can you have on a radial UK? ›

If it's a pretty standard setup; 16amp MCB, 2.5mm cable, 15 sockets (more about this below) and you want to plug in and run 10 tumble driers all at the same time, then the draw on the circuit as a whole will be far too much for the MCB and it will trip straight away.

What size is UK mains cable? ›

In most domestic situations the cable size used for sockets on a ring main or radial main is 2.5mm twin and earth cable.

What is standard electrical cable size? ›

The common sizes of cable are 1, 1.5, 2.5, 4, 6 and 10mm2 - the measurement represents the cross-sectional area of the individual cores. The current-carrying capacity of cable varies according to a number of installation design factors.

Is 1.5 mm cable suitable for sockets? ›

You will find twin core and earth cabling used all over your home in a variety of sizes. 2.5mm is commonly used for behind sockets, while 1-1.5mm is most often used for lights (depending on how many lights you have in a circuit).

How do I know if my cable is 2.5 mm? ›

And cables for sockets on a ring or radial main are normally a 2.5mm cable. This measurement is the cross-sectional area of the individual wires within the cable – the actual area of the exposed face of the wire. The size of the cable should be printed on the sheath.

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