Stranded Electrical Wire vs. Solid Electrical Wire

If you’re struggling with a decision between stranded and solid wire, you aren’t alone. At Metro Wire & Cable, we are one of the U.S.’s top 150 electrical distributors. As subject matter experts, we have the experience to help you decide between stranded electrical wire vs. solid electrical wire.

Stranded Wire

Stranded wire is built from bundling smaller gauge wires, insulated with non-conductive materials. Stranded wires tend to make the overall cable more flexible in nature. Engineers use stranded and solid wires in a variety of ways, dependent on the application.

Benefits of Stranded Wire

For difficult routing, stranded cables are advantageous because of their flexibility. Stranded wires are malleable, so you can bend them out of shape without severing. Likewise, they withstand flexing and vibrations better than solid wire. When it comes to replacing your cables, stranded wire needs to be replaced less often than solid wire.

Disadvantages of Stranded Wire

When choosing wire, you have to consider the appropriate gauge based on your project’s amperage load. Stranded wires are thinner and have more air gaps, along with more surface area. Hence, they less current than solid wire. Developing intricate wiring requires a complex process that raises the overall production costs. Generally, stranded cable may be pricier than solid.

Applications

As wholesale electrical wire suppliers, we suggest using stranded wire in applications where frequent bending is needed. For example, electrical work in a car door may require the use of stranded cables. Try to use stranded electrical wire for indoor use only. Common uses for stranded wire include:

  • Speaker wires
  • Headphone cables
  • Appliance cables
  • Circuit boards
  • Electro-mechanical assemblies

Solid Wire

Compared to stranded wire, solid electrical wire is heavier and thicker. Also known as single-strand or solid-core, it consists of only one piece of wire.

Benefits of Solid Wire

Solid cables are rugged, durable and built to be anti-corrosive. They are simple to manufacture but are resistant to the elements. When you need rigid durability, solid wire is more applicable than stranded wire. As a bonus, you don’t have to worry about the additional cost of stranded wire because of the simplistic manufacturing process. Solid wire tends to be more cost-effective. Likewise, the decreased surface area of solid wire allows it to carry more current than stranded wire. The wire’s thickness prevents electronic interference.

Disadvantages of Solid Wire

The main disadvantage of solid wire is its lack of flexibility. It is not malleable and if you twist it, it may split or sever. Another problem with solid electrical wire is that you find it more often in small gauges. A solid wire would be a poor choice for any application that requires repetitive motion. While solid wire holds up against corrosion, it does not hold up against vibration.

Applications

If you have heavy-duty or outdoor applications, solid cables may be the best choice. You can use solid wire for the following applications:

  • Vehicle controls
  • Outdoor applications
  • Building infrastructure
  • Breadboards

Any application that requires little to no movement is generally appropriate for solid wire.

Stranded vs. Solid: Which is better?

Deciding between stranded electrical wire vs. solid electrical wire depends heavily on your project. When making your choice, you need to consider your overall costs, environmental factors, loads, motion and durability. Think about the type of wiring that will last. For example, if you need cables for outdoor use, solid-core is better than stranded wire. However, if you need flexibility and don’t mind the cost, stranded is best.

Metro Wire & Cable’s trained team can help determine the type of cabling you need for all your projects. Both stranded and solid have advantages and disadvantages to consider.

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