By Erik Watkins

10/2 Or 10/3 Wire For Air Conditioner: Which One Is The Best?

Last updated: May 18, 2023
10/2 Or 10/3 Wire For Air Conditioner

All air conditioners need suitable wires to operate efficiently, save energy and prolong the life of the air cooler. However, users struggle with two choices: 10/2 or 10/3 for the air conditioner because of a lack of electrical knowledge.

The simple tip is to consider the electric current. Then, users should choose one that can handle enough amps for the extractor’s operation.

This article will help you to make the right wire choice for your air conditioners. Let’s start

What Is The 10/2 Wire?

The 10/2 wire includes a 10 gauge hot wire, a 10 gauge neutral wire, and an additional ground wire with a safe purpose. The color of the inner wires are black (hot wire) and white (neutral wire). So it concludes just 2 10 gauge wires.

The combined ampacity of 10/2 is 70 amps (capable of pulling), so it has a lot of implications, such as kitchen stoves, heavy-duty washing equipment, and power tools… Therefore, the 10/2 is popular with customers who use electronic equipment intended for everyday use.

What Is The 10/3 Wire?

The 10/3 has 2 10 gauge (one hot wire and one neutral wire) and one ground wire with a safe purpose. So it has 3 10 gauge wires. While the 2 hot wires are red and black, only the white wire is the neutral wire. The ground wire used to ensure safety is green; sometimes, it is bare copper wire.

The 10/3 wire’s ampacity is 105 amps and the perfect choice for 220V, four-pronged outlets. Therefore, this wire is highly used for electric dryers, stoves, and small ovens. Besides, the 10/3 wire is ideal for underground use with 10/3 UF cable and conduits.

The Key Difference Between 10/2 And 10/3 Wires

So, What is the crucial difference between the two kinds?

  • Number of the inner wires

As mentioned above, 10/2 has just 3 inner wires, but when it comes to 10.3, there are 4 wires put in the wire core. Therefore, the diameter is different, but the wire size of the 2 types is the same.

  • Amps

Whereas the 10/2 wire can handle 56 amps, the 10/3 wire amp rating is 84 amps. So it is a considerable distance between the capacity of those. And you can see how it plays a vital role in choosing wires for your mini split.

10/2 Or 10/3: Which Is The Best Choice?

The answer to your question is that 10/2 wire is the ideal choice for your air conditioner. Read the explanation below to know thoroughly.

Why is 10/2 wire the best recommendation? You can choose the correct size wire based on the size of your air conditioner, voltage (relating to electrical connection), and a second neutral wire.

  • Size of AC

Even a big-size air conditioner (6 -ton) requires more than 34 amps. It means this air conditioner needs a wire that can draw around 42A.

Therefore, a 10/2 wire with 70A ampacity and can draw 56 amp is the best choice. If you use a 10/3 wire, it is overkill. And you should know that no air conditioner unit has a more than 56 amps draw.

  • Voltage

The relationship between volts and amps is inverse. It means the higher the volts, the fewer amps are needed to produce the same amount of watts.

Usually, the typical circuit of the very popular at the moment is 120-volt, and sometimes you can find out some require 220V to operate. So, a 10/2 wire is ideal because 10/3 wires are usually used for a dual voltage sục as a cloth dryer.

  • Neutral Wire

A 10/3 cable only features a second neutral wire when the appliance at the destination requires 110v. In an air conditioner, there is no reason it would require 110v at all.

As a result, powering an air exchanger without a neutral wire (10/3 wire) is perfectly safe. Because 220-volt circuit systems do not require a neutral, you may connect it with a 10/2 wire with one hot wire, one neutral, and one ground conductor. The 1 hot and 1 neutral will each carry 110v, completing the 220v.

From the above explanations, you may even utilize the 10/3 wire for your air exchanger while ignoring the neutral. But, in the end, it is futile and worthless since if an air conditioner does not require a neutral, why utilize a 10/3 wire and pay a higher cost of wire?

Use a 10/2 wire to eliminate additional tension and trouble!

Why Is It Important To Use The Correct Wire For AC?

Why Is It Important To Use The Correct Wire For AC?

There are some reasons you can not choose random wires for your air conditioner, and you need to select the right one.

  • The movement of electrons

Because your AC will be efficient if you have the proper size wire for the right size of the AC, the electrons (current) will have fewer obstacles and smooth current through the wire. So, our AC device will have adequate power to operate, and it will also profit you financially.

  • Heating of the wire

Using a small cord to handle a huge air conditioner is not an intelligent option. A small cord will be unable to sustain the air conditioner. While flowing, the current will encounter significant opposition, and the wire will eventually become extremely hot and catch fire.

Current will encounter minimal resistance when traveling through the wire, keeping it cool and safe. It will lessen the possibility of a fire, a short circuit, or an electric shock. As a result, it will save your air conditioner, life, and property.


What Is Size Wire For A 3-Ton AC Unit?

Most 3-ton air conditioners operate at 240 volts and 30 amps. That implies you’ll need a 10 AWG (or larger) cable to power the gadget. If your air conditioner does not require a second neutral wire, choose a 10/2 wire.

What Is Size Wire For A 2-Ton AC Unit?

Use an 18 AWG wire if your air conditioner has a maximum output of 2,400 watts. Remember that this is the smallest wire gauge you should use; greater gauges can carry heavier loads.

Consider a few criteria while selecting the proper size wire for your 2-ton AC unit. First, you must establish the maximum amount of electricity you may pull. Once determined the maximum wattage, you may select a wire gauge to support that load.

What Type Of Wire Is Used For Air Conditioners?

Air conditioner circuits are typically connected with nonmetallic (NM) cables. Therefore, the wire gauge is ideal for the circuit’s amperage.

  • A 20-amp window air conditioner is compatible with a 12-gauge wire;
  • A 10-gauge wire is typically utilized for a 30-amp window air conditioner.

Air conditioners occasionally trip a circuit breaker during the start-up surge; however, this is uncommon because circuit breakers, unlike older fuse types found in older homes, are built to handle this surge.


Have you already know the answer, 10/2 vs 10/3 wire for your air conditioner? If you do not need a second neutral wire for safety or do not have any specific electrical requirements, it is no reason to choose 10/3 wire. 

On the contrary, 10/2 wire is the ideal option for your air conditioner. But you must also consider the code requirements when choosing wires because some air conditioners require a dedicated circuit.

See more: How Many Watts Do Air Conditioners Use

Automotive Mechanic at PowerAll

With 7 years experience in management positions leading automotive mechanics at PowerAll, Erik Watkins wishes to share useful knowledge and information about automotive mechanical equipment.


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