# How do I determine the electrical cable size?

A pair of digits separated by a hyphen, such as 14-2, are used to identify an electrical cable. The first number represents the gauge of the conductor, while the second represents the number of conductors within the cable. 14-2, for example, has two 14-gauge conductors: a hot and a neutral. Each conductor within the cable must be fully covered by either tape or insulation to prevent electricity from flowing through them.

The first number in the designation is called the "outer diameter" of the cable, while the second number is called the "inner diameter." Cables with the same outer diameter but different numbers of conductors have electrodes that are at different distances from the core of the cable. This determines how much current can flow through the cable. Cables with more conductors can carry more current than those with fewer conductors of the same size. For example, a 4-wire cable with 2 conductors each measuring 1/2 inch wide would be considered equivalent to a 4-wire branch circuit with 3-wire cables each measuring 1 inch wide.

Cable sizes vary depending on the application. Generally, the larger the number, the larger the cable size. For example, a cable designated as 12-14 would be considered large enough for a residential construction project. A cable labeled as 10-12 would be suitable for use in a commercial setting where there is a need for smaller cables to run between service panels.

## How many wires are in a cable?

Two or more wires wrapped in a protective covering are referred to as a cable. The gauge and number of wires are shown on cable packaging. For example, "12/2 WG" denotes two 12-gauge wires (black and white) plus a ground wire. A numerical scale shows the distance that each wire will reach if they were to be pulled straight out of the case. For example, a 2-wire cable with 14 inches of slack would provide 28 inches of reach for a 10-foot drop.

Cables contain several different types of wires: one or more black wires used to carry voltage; one or more red wires used to carry current; and one or more white wires used for grounding or protection. Cables also include other components such as plastic tubes or metal foil wrapping to protect the wires. The amount of space a cable takes up is determined by its size, type, and construction. A typical house cable is about an inch in diameter, and it carries between 4 and 6 volts. It can be as long as you need it to be.

The number of cables entering a wall box relates to the number of circuits required by your home. If you want to connect equipment to more than one circuit, then more than one cable must be inserted into the wall box. Each additional cable requires its own breaker or fuse in the wall box. Heating and air conditioning systems typically require at least two separate cables to operate correctly.

## What is the difference between 14-2 cable and 14-3 cable?

The 14-2 (pronounced fourteen two) cable is really made up of three wires. One for the ground (bare copper), one for the neutral (white coating), and one for the "hot" (black coating). The bare ground wire is not counted, thus the denomination 14-2. 14-3 has four wires: one ground wire, one neutral wire, and two hot wires (one black and one red).

Cable manufacturers number wires for convenience when ordering cables. They can be any combination of colors, but usually include at least one white or neutral wire and one black or hot wire. Other combinations are possible but less common. For example, a gray, green, and white cable is equivalent to the 14-2 configuration described above. The only difference is that the gray cable doesn't have a ground wire.

Cables with more than two functions (such as red power and white data) are called multi-function cables. These can be useful if you have several devices that can use different parts of the cable simultaneously.

Cables with only two functions are called straight through cables. They allow any device attached to them to receive power and communicate data simultaneously.

A cable is considered interchangeable if it uses the same number of wires in a wall box or junction box. For example, a black, white, and brown cable is interchangeable with a black, white, and green cable if they both contain exactly three wires. A cable is considered non-interchangeable if it contains four or more wires.

##### Gerald Gaines

Gerald Gaines is an avid hunter and fisherman. He has a strong interest in old machinery and technology, which he uses to repair and improve his equipment. Gerald likes to travel around the country exploring new places and learning more about the history of the places he visits.

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