Common Types of Electrical Wiring
Dec 28, 2023
Electrical wiring is a crucial component of any building’s infrastructure. It is the network of wires that delivers electricity to all the electrical appliances and devices in a building. Electrical wiring comes in different types, and each has its own unique features and applications. In this blog post, we will explore the different types of electrical wiring, their uses, and the benefits of each.
Wire Gauges (Wire Thickness)
Wire gauge refers to the diameter of a wire and is typically measured in American Wire Gauge (AWG). Different wire gauges are used for different applications, based on the amount of current the wire is expected to carry and the resistance of the wire.
The smaller the wire gauge number, the larger the wire diameter and the more current it can carry. For example, a 12-gauge wire has a larger diameter and can carry more current than a 14-gauge wire.
Wire gauge is important to consider when selecting wiring for an electrical system. If the wire gauge is too small for the amount of current being carried, the wire may overheat and cause damage to the wire or electrical equipment.
Types of Electrical Wiring
1. NM Cable
NM cable, also known as non-metallic sheathed cable or Romex cable, is the most common type of electrical wiring used in residential buildings. It is a flexible cable that consists of two or more insulated conductors and a bare ground wire wrapped in a plastic sheathing. NM cables are easy to install and suitable for use in dry locations only.
2. Armored Cable
Armored cable, also known as metal-clad cable, is a type of electrical wiring that is covered with a protective metal armor. It consists of two or more insulated conductors and a bare ground wire wrapped in a metal sheath. Armored cable is more durable and resistant to damage than NM cable and is suitable for use in dry or wet locations.
3. Coaxial Cable
Coaxial cable is a type of electrical wiring that is commonly used for cable TV, internet, and telephone connections. It consists of a central conductor surrounded by an insulating layer, a metal shield, and an outer sheathing. Coaxial cable is designed to transmit high-frequency signals with minimal interference and is suitable for use in dry or wet locations.
4. UF Cable
UF cable, also known as underground feeder cable, is a type of electrical wiring that is designed for use in underground applications. It consists of two or more insulated conductors and a bare ground wire wrapped in a moisture-resistant sheathing. UF cable is ideal for outdoor lighting, landscape lighting, and other outdoor electrical applications.
5. Solid Wire
Solid wire is a type of electrical wire that consists of a single, solid conductor. It is commonly used for applications that require a higher level of conductivity and durability, such as industrial and commercial electrical systems. Solid wire is not recommended for use in residential buildings due to its inflexibility and difficulty of installation.
6. Insulated Wires
Insulated wires are a type of electrical wiring that have a protective insulation layer around the conductor. They are suitable for use in dry or wet locations and are commonly used in electrical systems that require a high level of safety and reliability.
7. Household Wiring
Household wiring is a term that refers to the electrical wiring used in residential buildings. It typically consists of NM cable and is designed for use in dry locations only. Household wiring is easy to install and is ideal for use in residential electrical systems.
8. Major Circuit Wiring
Major circuit wiring refers to the electrical wiring used for major appliances, such as air conditioners, water heaters, and stoves. It typically consists of armored cable and is suitable for use in dry or wet locations.
9. Armored Electrical Cable
Armored electrical cable is a type of electrical wiring that is covered with a protective metal armor. It is suitable for use in dry or wet locations and is commonly used in industrial and commercial electrical systems.
10. Low Voltage Wires
Low voltage wires are a type of electrical wiring that is designed to carry low voltage signals, such as those used for doorbells and intercom systems. They are typically smaller in diameter than high voltage wires and are suitable for use in dry or wet locations.
Wiring Terminology: Understanding the Language of Electrical Wiring
Understanding the terminology used in electrical wiring can help you make informed decisions when selecting wiring for your electrical system. Here are some of the most common terms used in wiring:
Bare Ground Wire
A bare ground wire is a type of wire that is not covered with insulation. It is typically used as a safety measure to protect against electrical shock in case of a short circuit. Bare ground wires are usually made of copper or aluminum and are connected to a ground rod or a grounding conductor.
Cable sheathing is the protective covering that surrounds electrical wires. It is typically made of a non-conductive material, such as plastic or rubber, and is designed to protect the wires from damage and moisture. Cable sheathing also provides a measure of safety by preventing contact with the electrical conductors.
A neutral wire is a type of wire that carries the return current from an electrical device back to the power source. It is typically colored white or gray and is connected to the neutral bar in the electrical panel. Neutral wires are essential for balancing the electrical load in a circuit and preventing electrical shock.
A hot wire is a term used to describe a wire that carries an electrical current under normal operating conditions. In most cases, a hot wire is colored black or red and is connected to the power source or supply. Hot wires are used to power electrical devices and appliances and are typically connected to a switch or circuit breaker to control the flow of electricity.
It is important to handle hot wires with caution, as they can cause electrical shock and even electrocution if not handled properly. It is recommended to turn off the power supply and use appropriate safety equipment, such as insulated gloves and tools, when working with hot wires.
Stranded wire is a type of wire that consists of multiple thin wires twisted together. It is more flexible than solid wire and is commonly used in applications that require a high degree of flexibility, such as in automotive and marine applications. Stranded wire is available in different gauges and is suitable for use in both high and low voltage applications.
A grounding wire, also known as an earth wire or ground conductor, is a wire that is connected to the ground or earth. It is typically colored green or bare and is used as a safety measure to protect against electrical shock in case of a short circuit or other electrical fault.
Grounding wires provide a path for excess electrical current to flow safely into the ground, rather than through an individual or electrical device. This helps prevent electrical shock and damage to electrical equipment. Grounding wires are an essential component of electrical systems and are required by electrical codes and regulations in many countries.
Summarizing Electrical Wires
Understanding the different types of electrical wires is crucial for any residential wiring project. Service entrance cable, a robust and essential component in residential building wire systems, plays a pivotal role in ensuring a stable and safe electricity supply to your home. Meanwhile, for specific applications like home entertainment or internet connectivity, specialized wires such as speaker wire, coaxial cables, and ethernet cables are indispensable. These specialized wires not only enhance the functionality of your home but also contribute to a well-organized and efficient electrical system.
Moreover, the right selection of electrical wiring is not just about efficiency and convenience; it’s also a matter of safety. Incorrect or outdated wiring can lead to electrical fires, a risk that is significantly mitigated by choosing the appropriate type of wire for each application. Whether you’re renovating an old home or wiring a new one, it’s essential to find professional electricians in your area when performing major electrical work. By doing so, you ensure not only the smooth operation of your electrical appliances but also the safety and longevity of your home’s electrical system.