I am a newbie in this forum but have been looking at some of the wiring in my house especially some XHHW-2 wiring used for the electric range. I need to have some clarification of cable terminology.

When someone refers to non-l(or NM) cables they are referring to a specific type of cable. What I mean by this is that the term NM does not include for example XHHW-2 cable. Correct? (I think I'm reading too much into the term "non-metallic")

I have an NM-B, copper two conductor 14 AWG with one 14 AWG ground cable running through the same hole in a floor joist as an aluminum XHHW-2 three conductor 6 AWG with 1 unshielded 6 AWG ground wire cable. There is no sort of filler and insulation in the hole.

Does this mean I do not have to derate the ampacity of these cables? Looking at various forums and reading the code I get that impression but then I notice almost all those forums are explicitly talking about NM cable - which takes me back to my first question.

If someone could help clarify things that would be much appreciated.

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    NM is a cable type, with its own Chapter 3 article, just like AC (armored cable/BX) or ENT (smurf tube). XHHW-2 is a wire insulation type found on individual wires, given in Table 310.104; as a result, there is no such thing as a XHHW-2 cable, just a cable with XHHW-2 wires in it, which could be one of serveral cable types (SE, MC, TC). Can you give us the full string of text off the jacket of the fat cable, please? Jan 3, 2020 at 1:08
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    And maybe a picture of it?
    – JACK
    Jan 3, 2020 at 1:11
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    I can't upload pictures yet. The markings on the cable are:"526 FT E207803 (UL) ICV CME WIRE AND CABLE 3 CDRS 6 AWG AA-8000 AL+1 CDR 6 AWG AA-8000 AL TYPE SE STYLE R XHHW-2 CDRS 600V XLPE SUN RES NOV 2018". (I included all characters.) Based on ThreePhaseEel's comment, right this is an SE cable. I think I understand the NM versus SE... aspect but what about any derating?
    – JimCzek
    Jan 3, 2020 at 2:27

4 Answers 4


Neither cable needs to be derated here, for multiple reasons

First off -- you only have one NM cable (the 14/2 W/G) in this hole, as the other cable (the 6-6-6-6) is a type SE cable; the two cables (NM and SE) are distinct in their constructions and usages, and are covered by different articles in the NEC (NM in Article 334, SE in Article 338). As a result, the requirement in NEC 334.80 paragraph 2 that requires derating of multiple NM cables bundled through an insulation-packed hole in wood framing does not apply here to this situation, as there's only one NM cable to be had:

Where more than two NM cables containing two or more current-carrying conductors are installed, without maintaining spacing between the cables, through the same opening in wood framing that is to be sealed with thermal insulation, caulk, or sealing foam, the allowable ampacity of each conductor shall be adjusted in accordance with Table 310.15(B)(3)(a) and the provisions of 310.15(A)(2), Exception, shall not apply.

Furthermore, this requirement only applies to sealed openings in wood framing; since your opening is unsealed, this passage would not apply even if you had 20 NM cables in the same opening. Finally, this passage does not apply to SE cables anyway, as while SE cables are required to be treated as NM cables when used indoors by 338.10(B)(4)(a):

(a) Interior Installations. In addition to the provisions of this article, Type SE service-entrance cable used for interior wiring shall comply with the installation requirements of Part II of Article 334, excluding 334.80.

For Type SE cable with ungrounded conductor sizes 10 AWG and smaller, where installed in thermal insulation, the ampacity shall be in accordance with 60°C (140°F) conductor temperature rating. The maximum conductor temperature rating shall be permitted to be used for ampacity adjustment and correction purposes, if the final derated ampacity does not exceed that for a 60°C (140°F) rated conductor.

, this passage explicitly excludes 334.80 from its requirements, as the wire insulation (often XHHW-2 or full THHN/THWN-2) on wires in SE cables is more robust than the PVC-only insulation used on the individual wires in a NM cable.

  • Thanks ThreePhaseEel! My problem was that when I saw all the chatroom references to NM, I said: "Yeah, the cable I have is non-metallic sheathed so that's me" and I jumped in. A little knowledge... Thanks again.
    – JimCzek
    Jan 3, 2020 at 2:54
  • Other relevant issues are the receptacle and breaker will only have 75°C terminations , so you can't exceed that column, and NEC 240.4 limits #14 to 15A Jan 3, 2020 at 3:00
  • @NoSparksPlease receptacles are actually limited to 60degC from the datasheets I've seen (certainly not 75degC), but you are right re: both breaker terminations and the 240.4 limit, though. Jan 3, 2020 at 4:35
  • @3ØEel, you're right, so that must limit his #6 AL to a 40A breaker? Jan 3, 2020 at 5:07
  • @NoSparksPlease -- if there's a receptacle at the other end, yes Jan 3, 2020 at 12:36

To add onto TPE's answer

When someone refers to non-metalic (or NM) cables they are referring to a specific type of cable. What I mean by this is that the term NM does not include for example XHHW-2 cable. Correct? (I think I'm reading too much into the term "non-metalic")

NM refers to sheathed cable containing individual wires (Romex is the trade name for Southwire's NM cable in the US). NM cable is available in a variety of wire sizes (14-6 gauge is available in NM cable from Southwire).

XHHW-2 is a single wire by itself, coated in cross-linked polyethylene (or PEX in plumbing terms). It's also commonly stranded, instead of solid core like NM. Unlike NM, XHHW-2 can handle higher heat (up to 90 degrees Celsius) and can be used in wet locations (although it's not direct burial and needs to be in conduit). You would more commonly find this on circuits higher than 30 amperes.

  • Thanks Machavity. I looked at some samples of cable. One had THHN wire the other had XHHW-2 wire. How does anyone every get THHN wire to cram into an electrical box? Or don't they?
    – JimCzek
    Jan 3, 2020 at 18:37
  • Depends on the box. I have a PVC box on the size of my house with 6/2 and 3 THHN-2 wires going to my shed. They fit reasonably well, though I did have to buy bigger wire nuts
    – Machavity
    Jan 3, 2020 at 19:36

But just so you know, if they ran >24" in a conduit or raceway, the plain old NEC 310.15(b)(3)(a) derate rules would still apply.

With split-phase service (NOT 2-of-3-phases like NYC or Europe), all circuits contain 2 wires that count as far as this derate. (because other wires carry only differential current, e.g. a MWBC neutral, or travelers in a 3-way circuit). That would be 4 wires total in both cables.

4-6 wires (2-3 split-phase circuits) calls for an 80% derate, but off the maximum thermal rating of the wire, and NM and UF cables get to use 90C for this calculation due to an exception. The exception is why NM and UF cables are not listed in the 310.15(b)(16) chart. So:

  • 14 AWG wire (25A@90C) derates to an absolute maximum 20A, but it's already limited to 15A due to NEC 240.4, so that's that.
  • 6 AWG wire (75A@90C) derates to an absolute maximum 60A.
  • Thanks Harper. I ran across this in my initial readings but caught the caveat that is applied to running in a conduit or raceway. But I still got tripped up on the references to NM and not reading the specs carefully.
    – JimCzek
    Jan 3, 2020 at 18:40

I just passed the electrical inspection for the 220V outlet and wiring. Thank you all for the directions and assistance! Jim

Inspected and Approved

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