How To Choose the Right Electrical Wire

Are you planning a DIY home remodeling project? Is your team installing a new piece of heavy equipment? Whether you’re a homeowner or a business owner, choosing the right type of wiring for electrical work is essential. Specific wiring characteristics give you better performance, reduce electricity waste, and ensure safety. How can you choose the right electrical wire?

1. Size

The first step is to decide the gauge, or thickness, or the wire. This measurement determines the total amps your wiring will be able to handle. The correct gauge depends on several factors:

  • Total electrical outlets on the circuit
  • Circuit breaker capacity
  • Number of light fixtures
  • Types of appliances or devices connected
  • Planned load or energy draw
  • Length of wiring circuit

For example, if you’re installing an air conditioner, the circuit is going to require a thicker wire than one that simply powers a couple of outlets and lights in a bedroom. Air conditioners, refrigerators and power tools simply draw more current.

In American Wire Gauge sizing, the smaller the number, the higher the amp capacity of the wire. A 14-gauge wire is narrower than an 8-gauge wire. With a 14-gauge wire, the circuit can only handle 15 amps. A 10-gauge wire is rated for 30 amps.

2. Flexibility

Wire can be solid, stranded, or fully flexible. Each option has its own pros and cons. Solid-core wire has the advantage of staying fixed in place. It rarely loosens, moves or changes shape. This type of wire is often used for heavy-duty connections, such as compressors.

With flexible wire, you have to secure connections more carefully. However, it’s much easier to wire rooms because you can pull flexible wire smoothly through walls and conduits.

3. Insulation

Choosing the right insulator for wiring helps prevent overloads, moisture issues and other dangerous situations. The higher the voltage needed, the thicker the insulation should be. With industrial wiring, you’ll see a number such as 600V. This is the maximum voltage rating. Always give yourself a large safety margin when choosing voltage rating.

Some types of insulation provide specialized benefits, protecting against vibrations, abrasion, high temperatures or corrosive chemicals. Think about worst-case operating conditions when choosing the right wire insulation for your needs.

4. Color

Wire color doesn’t affect the performance of wires. Instead, the purpose is to make repairs safer and easier. It’s often a good idea to place a note in your electrical box for color coding in case you have to replace wiring in the future.

Normally, green wires are used for grounding. Black or red wires are generally used as the “hot” wires. White is normally for the neutral wire. You can select a different color for electronic communication wires.

5. Copper Vs. Aluminum

Should you choose copper or aluminum wire when taking care of electricity projects? Generally speaking, copper is the right choice for smaller spaces such as homes and retail businesses. Aluminum wiring can heat up if you put it under too much load. To compensate, far thicker wires are necessary.

In industrial applications, aluminum is somewhat more popular because of its cheaper cost and lighter weight. It’s necessary to work with a certified electrician to determine the right thickness to prevent overheating, however.

The Benefits of Choosing Metro Wire & Cable

Last but certainly not least, the quality of the wire you purchase can heave a significant impact on its performance and durability. At Metro Wire, we source our wiring from top electrical wire manufacturers. We can customize wiring to your needs by cutting it to any length. We have warehouses throughout the U.S., so it’s easy for our team to fulfill same orders or ship the next day as needed.

Do you have other questions about wire characteristics? Our expert sales consultants are happy to help you find the best wiring for your project. Contact us today for a quote!

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