It might look like a lot of the same to the rest of us, but electrical wire is really made up of a complex group of electrical products that vary significantly. They might all be the same in that they carry electrical current for the purposes of power supply, but two wires are rarely identical, even if the only thing that varies is the color of their insulation.
Consider this: have you ever heard the term electrical wire and electrical cable used interchangeably? It is often the case that wire is called electrical cable or even electric wire cable. This is a slight misnomer and a consequential one.
For example, one of the most important traits of a wire or cable is its flexibility. Where a wire is a single stranded conductor, a cable is a group of conductors braided together. This generally means that a cable and a wire of the same diameter are nowhere near equivalent in flexibility. Typically, the cable is significantly more flexible than the wire.
Flexibility, incidentally, is one of the prime assets of some electrical conductors. Some wires and cables, such as marine grade cables and welding cables, are assessed partially on the flexibility they exhibit. This enables them to be worked into place or to negotiate tight turns. In similar situations, a wire would be much less useful than a cable.
However, thought flexibility is valuable in many conductors, it is far from the only attribute that can be deemed valuable in a wire or a cable. Possibly the most important two attributes of either wire or cable are the ratings they hold for voltage and ampacity. It would also be valuable to mention that the temperature rating of a cable or wire is valuable, too.
For example, many domestic building wires (but not all) are rated to a voltage of 600V. This is one of the most important factors that can be used to determine the utility of a wire or cable because it is unsafe to use that cable in a situation in which the working voltage could be exceeded.
In addition to flexibility and rating, an electrical wire or cable can be assessed on its ability to resist corrosion, abrasion, and equivalent environmental stressors. Sometimes these traits of resistance are a product of the armor or insulation that is paired with a wire or cable, and for others these traits are tied to the construction of the cable itself.
Marine grade cables, for example, are made of many finely stranded conductors that are individually tinned to resist corrosion. However, many other electrical cables and wires are defined by the armor or insulation that is used to protect them. Whereas some are armored, others utilize tough EPDM and other polymer insulation materials that resist acids, bases, temperature, moisture and much more. Some are even resistant to oil and gasoline.
One more thing to take into account is whether or not the wire or cable is shielded against electromagnetic interference or EMI. EMI can interrupt the signal or information carried by an alarm or security cable and so cause inefficiencies in a system.
This is really only a very high level view and there are many other attributes of wire and cable that impact their serviceability and fitness for a role. If you’re looking for a little more in-depth information regarding the traits of different wires and cables, or you’re actually looking for high-quality cables and wires themselves, take advantage of the excellent customer service available at EWCS Wire at EWCSWire.com. Not only will they answer your questions, but they offer many specialized, excellent quality wires and cables for sale right on their website. Visit EWCSWire.com today or give them a call at 800-262-1598 to learn more.
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