Have a 1hp 11 amp above ground pool pump that is going to be about 50 feet away from the breaker. Will 12 gauge wire be enough to run it?

Photo of the pump can be seen at link below https://photos.app.goo.gl/qZxYcZ9aCNohwWk67

  • Is the 12AWG aluminum an existing run? Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 23:29
  • No, the wire will be run just for The pool. Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 0:22
  • After looking closer I misread the wire info for what I'm looking at, it is NOT aluminum, the outer shell is, not the wire itself. Sorry for the confusion. This is the wire I'm looking at using if 12 gauge is good enough. I'm thinking of buying this from Lowe's. Any recommendations? lowes.com/pd_69867-68580022-295_4294937087?productId=50189559 Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 0:24
  • Is this run indoors, underground, ...? Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 1:56
  • About 30 feet underground, rest through a structure. Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 13:20

2 Answers 2


Your wire sizing is fine

Motor conductors are sized as a continuous load (125% of Full Load Amps), so 12AWG is more than adequate for an 11A motor.

But your choice of wiring method is partly off the mark

However, unjacketed MC cable like what you linked is not suitable for wet locations or direct burial, so it can't be used outside. Furthermore, since this is a pool pump you're wiring, NEC 680.11 governs what wiring methods you can use:

680.11 Underground Wiring Location. Underground wiring shall be permitted where installed in rigid metal conduit, intermediate metal conduit, rigid polyvinyl chloride conduit, reinforced thermosetting resin conduit, or Type MC cable, suitable for the conditions subject to that location. Underground wiring shall not be permitted under the pool unless this wiring is necessary to supply pool equipment permitted by this article. Minimum cover depths shall be as given in Table 300.5.

As a result of this and the fact PVC-jacketed MC (which can be buried) isn't typical big-box fare, you cannot use direct buried cable for this, and basically are forced to go with conduit (typically, rigid PVC at Code burial depths), with individual 12AWG THWN wires inside instead of a cable. Once you get into the house, though, you can transition at a box to a different wiring method (such as regular MC or NM).


12 gauge wire will be fine for 11 amps at 50 feet. It is common in my state (SC) to use 14 gauge in-house wiring for 120v circuits, over 100 feet. Well within building code.

A better question would be how do you plan to run it?

You can buy direct burial cable, but my thoughts are that's kinda dangerous. I ran power to my shed inside PVC conduit which I buried. I still used burial cable because I've never dug up buried conduit and not found water in the pipe, but I use the conduit because if someone hits it with a shovel, they have to hit it a lot to electrocute themselves, and hopefully before that happens, they calm down and think, dig by hand, and find the pipe. PVC Conduit is very inexpensive, and cheap insurance.

But you asked whether 12 gauge wire can handle 11 amps at 50 feet and NEC (national electric code) says a resounding yes.

  • Planning on direct burial since I'm going to be getting the stuff that is already in an aluminum conduit. Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 13:21
  • 1
    #12 is fine for a 1HP motor, but MC cable is NOT suitable for direct burial, it is indoor only. You must use either UF (Underground Feeder) cable buried at least 24" deep or individual conductors run in conduit, either PVC Schedule 80 buried at least 18" deep or Rigid Galvanized Conduit (RGC) buried at least 6" deep.
    – JRaef
    Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 21:04
  • @J.Raefield -- yeah, regular MC is no good for wet location/direct burial. (shame the big-boxes don't carry the PVC-jacketed version, because it's wonderfully versatile!) Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 22:33
  • 1
    Jason, You CAN run UF cable in conduit, but it's more expensive and the cable is harder to pull. What you CANNOT do is run NM cable (aka "Romex") in conduit underground because all underground conduit runs are classified as wet locations and the wire run in it must be rated for wet locations.
    – JRaef
    Commented Apr 9, 2019 at 19:06
  • 1
    @Jason -- you can run an appropriately rated cable in conduit, but as J. Raefield says, it needs to be UF not NM for an outdoor run. HOWEVER, the downside of doing what you are doing is that you have just made your pulling job far harder. Individual wet-location-rated (THWN) wires are what normally go here, because you are correct that a buried conduit will be wet inside; in fact, NEC 300.5(B) states so outright. Commented Apr 10, 2019 at 0:29

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