To determine what gauge wire you need, consider the carrying capacity and the amount of current the wire needs to conduct (measured in amperage or amps). The wire gauge is directly related to how many amps you need to run through it. The distance you need the wire to go can also impact the gauge of wire you need. For example, if you need to power a light fixture from a circuit located 50 feet away, you will need a smaller gauge wire than if you needed to power a lamp closer to your electrical panel.
There are two types of wiring methods for residential applications: single-wire and three-wire. With single-wire systems, each room receives its own breaker or fuse box so that if one room gets hot enough to burn someone's hand, the other rooms won't get hot enough to be a danger. Three-wire systems have all the circuits together in one area. If one circuit gets too hot, everyone else will also get hot. It's best to use three-wire system in areas with children or pets, such as bathrooms or bedrooms. These areas should also be properly protected with heaters or air conditioners to prevent any accidental burns.
The type of material used to create the cable affects its ability to carry electricity. There are four main types of cable: aluminum, copper, fiber-optic, and hybrid. Aluminum cables are the cheapest option but they are also the least resistant to corrosion when exposed to moisture.
The wire size puzzle is made up of two pieces: thickness (gauge) and length. Consider the carrying capacity and the quantity of current the wire must carry when determining the gauge wire you want (measured in amperage or amps). The wire gauge is proportional to the number of amps that must be passed through it. Choose a number of volts for your project and multiply that number by the current you expect the circuit to draw (amps). That will give you the total volume of electricity that must be carried by the wire (volts x amps = watts). Divide that value by 1,000 to find the diameter in mm of a cable of adequate strength.
Example: If you plan to run three 20-foot lengths of #12 wire under the floor of a house, then each length should have a maximum ampacity of 40 amps. Volts x amps = 80 watts. Divide 80 by 1,000 to find the minimum outer diameter of the cable as measured from inside edge to outside edge - this is called the "wire size" and it's usually given in millimeters (mm). The exact voltage and current requirements of your project may change what size wire you need but this guide should get you on the right track.
A wire gauge is a measurement of the diameter of a wire. This defines how much current a wire can safely carry, as well as its electrical resistance and weight. A standard reference for wire gauges is the American Wire Gauge (AWG).
The AWG was developed by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) in 1914. An AWG is used to measure the average diameter of a sample of 10 wires of the same material and size. The actual range of diameters that may appear on a single tape is 0.5mm to 1.5mm; however, most manufacturers limit their samples to this range for accuracy. Samples with mean diameters outside this range are rejected.
There are two types of AWGs: single-sized and multi-sized. Single-sized wires are designated by their mean diameter; for example, 6AWG means that the sample consists of six wires with a mean diameter of 6mm. Multi-sized wires are designated by their maximum diameter; for example, 4X6AWG means that the sample consists of four wires with a maximum diameter of 12mm.
The choice of which type of gauge to use depends on your application.
Surprisingly, the smaller the wire, the higher the gauge number. Most electronics tasks will require 20- or 22-gauge wire. You'll need to utilize hefty lines while working with domestic electrical power (usually 14 or 16 gauge). Finally, you may have observed that the insulation around a wire is available in a variety of colors. These indicate how they will affect different parts of the spectrum: red for heat, black for cold, white for light.
The easiest way to tell if your wire will work with any appliance is to use our voltmeter. If it reads 120 or 240 volts, you're good to go!
If the voltage isn't right, but you want to use it anyway, then add some more wires and connect them together. This is called a "daisy chain" connection and it's used when you need two or more circuits but they are physically separated. For example, you could have one hot wire run from house to house for power up stairs, then another hot wire run back down to supply power to other rooms.
Or, if you only need one circuit but there's a danger of electricity being passed along with nothing connected to receive it (like an empty house), wrap the entire ensemble in a layer of electrical tape.
How do you know what gauge wire your amplifier requires? 8-gauge wire is enough for up to 500 watts RMS. You should use 4 gauge in the 500-1000 watt RMS range. You should use 2 gauge between 1000 and 1500 watts RMS. And finally, 1-1/4 or 2-pound test (depending on voltage) for more than 1500 watts RMS.
The weight of the wire determines how much current it can carry. The heavier the wire, the more power it can handle. So, 8-gauge wire is enough for most amplifiers. But if you want to be safe, use 4 between 500 and 1000 watts, 2 between 1000 and 1500 watts, and 1-1/4 or 2-pound test depending on voltage for more than 1500 watts.
A wire gauge is a device that measures the cross-sectional area of a wire. Knowing the gauge is crucial because it dictates how much electric current a wire can carry without causing harm (this number is known as ampacity). The two main types of gauges are absolute and fractional.
Absolute gauges measure the diameter of a wire, while fractional gauges measure sections of the wire's circumference. Because electrical circuits usually include several wires with different diameters, it is necessary to use more than one type of gauge when installing an electrical system. For example, one large circuit might be used to supply power to lights, heaters, and air conditioners while another set of smaller circuits delivers current to appliances such as refrigerators and dishwashers. A competent electrician should be able to estimate the size of wire needed for a project, but if there is any chance that the system will need to carry more current than originally planned, then it is best to oversize the wiring initially so that you have some leeway if you need to replace or extend cables later on.
Before the introduction of standardized units, people used their own units to describe the thickness of wires.