Talk to electricians or wiring operators or electrical distributors and buyers. The terms cable and wire can often be used interchangeably. However, as you will see below, there are differences between the two.
Generally speaking, a wire is a piece of metal with a round, square or rectangular cross-section, but in the latter case it is referred to as a strip. With reference to electrical applications, the metal can be aluminium or copper, but you can also find brass, steel and MS wire for other applications. For electrical applications, copper and aluminium are used because of their high electrical conductivity. In electrical application references, the wire is always a single wire, either bare or insulated. It can be a single wire or a bundle of wires with an insulating covering.
Now, the wire may be bare or covered with an insulating material. For example, you can buy enamelled copper and aluminium wires from wire dealers in Ahmedabad. This type of wire is used in the manufacture of transformers and electric motors.
Solid lengths of metal wire can be wrapped in an insulating material such as PVC. The insulation can be 1 mm or more thick. This type of wire can be used to connect switches and even for general household wiring.
Insulated wires may also have a PVC sheath covering many fine gauge copper or aluminium wires. This configuration of using thinner bare wire strands within a single insulating jacket gives the wire flexibility. Single wires in the range of 32 to 20 swg can be used, and several of these wires can then be bundled together in a single jacket to form a single conductor with a total cross-section ranging from 1 mm to 12 mm or more. The cross-section determines the current carrying capacity. For example, wires for soldering may have thin wires which together can produce a cross-section thick enough to carry 300 amperes. Wires with a total cross-section of 2 to 3 mm but consisting of thinner wires can also be used for house wiring, and Polycab house wires with different colour codes using FR insulation are considered the best.
Special purpose cables may have double insulation and the insulation may be rubber or polyethylene, with PVC being the most common as it has a higher insulation resistance and is less costly.
The main distinguishing feature of cables is that they contain multiple insulated conductors in a common sheath. The most common type is two conductors, each with a separate insulating sheath, combined within an outer insulating jacket. This is used to connect the fire and zero wires in a circuit. The next step is to include three such insulated conductors within a common sheath to provide the fire, neutral and earth connections. Each wire has a different colour of insulation for easy identification.
Electronic cables and cables used in telecommunications may have several of these insulated wires within a common outer sheath. As described in the wire section above, the individual insulated wires may be solid wires of aluminium or copper, or multiple strands of such stranded wires enclosed in a sheath. This method of bunching thin wires together gives the cable flexibility. It can be easily twisted, untwisted and then rewound or placed in a corner, and the conductors are less likely to break.
When people think of cables, they usually think of them as being very thick and are often used for industrial purposes and the transmission of electricity. However, you can also use cables at home to power appliances and expansion boards as well as between computers and monitors or TVs. Nevertheless, when it comes to industrial and power transmission cables, such as Polycab cables available from authorised Polycab wire and cable distributors, one can choose from different types.
Cables for power transmission may have extremely thick conductors, usually aluminium. They are individually encapsulated in their colour-coded insulation and then combined together to form a thick cable with an outer sheath. The sheath may have gaps between the conductors filled with additional insulation material. Some cables, for strength and protection of the internal wires, may have flat bands of galvanised MS around the internal wires, in which case they are called armoured cables.
Cables usually have double insulation, so you can simply string the cable from one point to another without having to run it through a PVC pipe or channel. However, even when used together, it is better to run individual wires through the pipes or channels.
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