If you buy a table lamp and plug it into a wall receptacle, which will be wired with at least a 14 AWG wire on a 15-amp breaker, do you think that cord on the lamp is also 14 AWG?
It's not. It'll be 16 or 18 AWG, same as most cheap extension cords and the wires that come with most other light fixtures.
Also, do you think the manufacturer of your recessed light, which is most certainly UL listed, didn't know what it was doing when it built the thing?
I think you can rest assured that if you wire the light according to the directions that probably came with it, you'll have a very safe installation.
This little episode makes me think about those little screw-in adaptors that convert a light socket into an outlet that you can plug something in to. I use one of those on occasion to run my electric lawnmore. I think I'm going to go throw it out now.
I doubt if the inspector would shoot you, but when he recovered from convulsions of laughter he might ask you if you got some kind of irresistable deal on the price of 18 AWG wire.
Besides that, even if you did run the 18 AWG all the way back to the panel I don't know what you'd connect it to. The lightest breaker made for an electrical load center is 15 amp -- probably the same as the one you'll be hooked to in the ceiling installation.
There's obviously a justification for lighting fixtures to be wired with these lighter wires but I don't know what it is. When you think about it, that light won't likely draw even a full amp, depending on its wattage. A 100-watt bulb, for example, would draw 0.833 of an amp.
As for whether you should throw away your screw-in light socket adapter (I've used 'em many times), you might first determine how many amps your mower is drawing.
There should be a plate somewhere on it that tells you the wattage, amperage, horsepower or somesuch about the motor.
If you know the watts or amperage you can get one or the other with a little math:
Watts divided by 120 = amps
Amps times 120 = watts
One horsepower = 746 watts
I checked one of those adapters, made by Leviton, I keep in my toolbox and it says its good for 660 watts max. That translates into 5.5 amps.
So if your mower draws anywhere near that you should retire the adapter for lighter uses.
Actually, if you need an extension cord to reach the whole yard you should probably be running that mower off no less than a 12 AWG cord, if for no other reason than to cut down on voltage drop.
P.S. Aw, go ahead and dig into the wallet, head for a home improvement center and shell out about $40 for a good 100-foot 12/2 AWG w/ground, contractor-grade extension cord. It would be a good investment. Take care of it and you can use it the rest of your life.
And don't run over it with the lawn mower as I did the attached equipment cord on my aunt's brand new electric mower she was so proud of back in the 50s.
[This message has been edited by HBB (edited November 04, 2002).]
But rather than buy a new extension cord, I'm going to buy a new mower, a gasoline model this time. I bought my electric as an experiment back when I had a small, wide-open lawn. I just wanted to see whether I'd like an electric more than a gas model. And I did, for a time. The electric mower is much quieter than any gas model I've owned. However, I've since moved to a house with a somewhat larger yard with lots of trees and other obstructions, and it takes a good deal of forethought not to get all tangled up in the cord as I mow.