Electrical projects can take a lot of wire! If you are anything like me, you are on the lookout for ways to save money. Here’s how to shop for electrical wire on a budget!
Residential branch wiring for the interior of a home comes in two varieties, 14-2 and 12-2. The outside of the wire is wrapped in a non-metallic sheathing. This kind of wire is commonly available at online retailers, big box stores, and local hardware stores. To save money, shop at a wholesale retailer and buy the wires in bulk.
Table of Contents
What Type of Electrical Wire Do You Need?
There several kinds of electrical wires for a lot of different jobs! For this article, we will focus on residential branch wiring.
About Residential Branch Wiring
Most home wiring, or residential branch wiring, is known in the electrical trade as Romex wiring. Romex wire has non-metallic sheathing. It typically comes as an underground feeder (UF) wire or nonmetallic sheathed cable (NM or NMC).
NM wires are insulated within the nonmetallic sheath. The sheath or coating on the wires is moisture resistant, flame resistant, and non-conducting. This makes NM Romex wiring great for areas that may be damp, like basements or bathrooms.
The UF wires have a similar construction to the NM wires, except that they have a solid core.
About 12-2 and 14-2 Wiring
12-2 and 14-2 refer to the number of wires and the gauge of the wires. So, 12-2 cables have two 12-gauge wires within the cable. 14-2 cables contain two 14-gauge wires.
For residential wiring, 14-2 wires can only be used on a 15 amp circuit. 12-2 wires are a little more versatile (and expensive!) and can work on a 15 amp or 20 amp circuit. 14-2 is considered the standard for most residential wiring, but some builders prefer to go with 12-2 for their entire building project.
No matter the size of the wires, you may be able to save some cash by ordering the wires in longer lengths. Typically, the more you buy, the lower the price per square foot of wire will be.
What’s the Best Place to Buy Electrical Wire?
Zoro has competitive prices on construction materials, including electrical wire! NM Romex wire on Zoro typically comes in at about half the cost of big box stores! Most items include free shipping.
Amazon carries just about everything you could imagine, so it is no surprise that you can add electrical wire to your cart. Wires from Amazon are a bit more costly than on Zoro. But with Amazon, there is the convenience of free shipping and easy returns.
eBay, the original online auction, also has 14-2 and 12-2 Romex wires available in just about any size. When I checked eBay, I found the prices to be comparable to those on Zoro. However, keep in mind that prices, availability, and shipping costs will vary according to the vendor.
Big Box Store
If you can’t wait for shipping, big box stores are a convenient place to purchase wire! Wire can be found at home stores, such as Lowe’s or Home Depot, or even at Walmart.
Lowe’s has 12-2 and 14-2 available in bulk and shorter lengths. Lowe’s, depending on your location, may have more variety available. Their current prices are slightly higher than Home Depot’s. As always, watch the sales fliers for discounts!
Home Depot is a direct competitor to Lowe’s. They are conveniently located across the country. 14-2 and 12-2 wires are available by the roll for customizable lengths or in precut packages. Their prices are currently slightly lower than Lowe’s. Watch for a sale!
Walmart is a convenient option! While you are picking up groceries, you can also grab some wire for your home improvement project. Walmart has a limited selection of 14-2 and 12-2 wires. My Walmart currently only carries 25-foot lengths of wire. The price per foot of wire is comparable to Lowe’s and Home Depot.
Local Hardware Store
Don’t forget about your local hardware store! The local store may surprise you with their variety and prices. They also may offer discounts for bulk orders.