Articles – Solid Core Wire

Solid Core Wire

If like many other people are planning to do some electrical wiring, the size of the wire to use is going to become an issue at some stage. Therefore it is beneficial to know how wire, like solid core wire, is classified. The American Wire Gauge (AWG), also known as the Brown and Sharpe wire gauge system is a standard used in the United States and other countries to make clear the diameter of electrically conducting wire. There are 40 different wire sizes in the AWG system.

Wiring is the insulated conductor that carries electricity. The wire that is used in a building such as a home or a factory is called building wire. The wire inside a piece of machinery is usually called equipment wire. Wire is measured by its diameter. This measurement is known as the wire gauge. Wire gauge runs in reverse numerical order. In other words, the higher the gauge number, the smaller the wire diameter. This tends to cause confusion when the system is not understood. The reason for the backwards method of denoting the size is that it is based on the number of times the wire must be drawn through drawing dies to produce the smaller size. Thus a 22 gauge wire, like solid core wire, needs to be drawn through the die more times than a 0 gauge wire. Steel wire uses a completely different measuring system and should not be confused with electrically conducting wire gauges using AWG.

Materials used in wire have varied over the years. Copper has always been the first choice because it is such a good conductor and is very flexible, and solid core wire is also very popular. In the 1960 to 1970’s, aluminium wire became popular due to the rising cost of copper. Insulation was usually rubber although rubber tended to corrode due to exposure to moisture and air. PVC compounds are now used most commonly as wire insulation. Insulation is made in different colors to identify wiring circuits in a system.

Each AWG gauge size can be rated for a maximum number of amps of load that it can safely carry. This is called the ampicity of the wire. It is depended on several variable factors such as the type of insulation, ambient conditions where the wire is being used, and the length of the wire run. Proper wire sizing is of utmost importance. An overload of the wire’s ampicity would cause the generation of heat. Although solid core wire or aluminium wire would take a large amount of heat before melting, the wire insulation would melt much quicker. This would increase the possibility of arching and a subsequent wire hazard.

In other parts of the world, the metric system is used and the AWG gauge system is not used. The metric wire measuring system uses the cross sectional area expressed in square millimetres. The cross sectional area is used rather than diameter because it is a better reflection of the load carrying capacity of the wire. The metric system and the AWG system do not match up exactly. This difference is more pronounced in certain size ranges and leads to problems when the wiring is a mix of AWG and metric sized wires.

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