Different types of wires and cables - knoweasy

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Different types of wires and cables

October 19, 2022

Different types of wires and cables


A wire is defined as an electrical conductor, while a cable is defined as a group of individually insulated wires (conductors) that are encased in a sheath. A jacket is a non-conductive material with protective properties that shields the conductive part of the wire/cable. Although a wire is a good conductor, it can still have some resistance. Wires and cables can be made from a variety of materials, such as copper, gold and aluminum.

Each of these materials has a different resistance. Thick wires have a lower resistance than thin wires made from the same material. The resistance of a wire varies proportionally with temperature or the length of the wire. The wire size indicates the diameter of the metal conductor of the wire. When choosing the size of the wire, you must consider the size of the wire, the capacity of the wire and the purpose of the wire. If the wire is too small, too much current will pass through it, causing the wire to drop more power in the form of watts because the resistance is so high.


Metal wire


Solid and stranded single-core wire is divided into two categories: solid wire and stranded wire (also known as braided wire). Solid wire is rigid and conducts electricity better. The stranded wire consists of smaller wires that are braided together. Stranded wires are less likely to break when repeatedly bent, which is why this type of wire is common in mobile phone chargers.

Jumper cables are pre-cut flexible stranded wires of various lengths with stiff ends that allow the wires to be inserted easily into breadboards. The connecting wire is usually a single conductor insulated wire used for low current, low voltage (<600 volts) applications and is used to make internal connections. It is available in a variety of sizes and lengths. Once the connecting wire has been cut to the required length, a wire stripper can be used to strip the insulation and allow the metal conductor to be attached to the circuit.

The electromagnetic wire is a copper or aluminium wire coated with a very thin layer of insulation. Electromagnetic wire allows multiple layers of wire to be twisted together without shorting out. When the wire is wound into a coil and energized, it creates an electromagnetic field. Enamelled wire is commonly used in transformers, inductors, motors, solenoids, Tesla coils and other applications that require tightly wound coils of insulated wire.

Wires are ideal for winding, hence the name. Silver-plated copper wire is highly flexible and has good insulation properties, but is resistant to abrasion. Winding wire is ideal for prototypes as it is easy to make point-to-point connections and repair them. Connections made with wound wire are more reliable than soldered connections due to the high amount of contact between the wire and the terminal block.

Muscle wire is an extremely thin wire made of Nitinol, known for its ability to shrink when current is applied. It has been used for the micro latch on Microsoft® Surface Book laptops.




As mentioned earlier, a cable is a set of insulated wires wrapped in a sheath. Typically, a cable has at least one hot wire to carry current, a neutral wire and an earth wire. Cables are classified according to the number of wires they contain and their size/gauge. Cables are marked with a series of letters followed by a number, a dash and another number. The letters indicate the type of insulation. The first number indicates the resistance of the wires in the cable. The number following the dash indicates the number of individual conductors in the cable. If G follows the last number, the cable is also equipped with a non-current carrying earth wire.

AC power cables carry the current and voltage from the domestic power supply safely to electronic equipment, usually AC to DC power. The individually insulated conductors are located within a more durable protective outer sheath and are fitted with connectors at one or both ends. Conductor size and quantity, current and voltage ratings, temperature ratings and institutional approvals are usually printed on the sheath.

Multicore cables are a variant of stranded cables in which each cable carries 2-60 different conductors in a common sheath. Both stranded and solid conductors can be twisted together in the sheath. These cables can be used to connect heavy equipment, medical electronics, audio systems, etc.

A ribbon cable is a series of single conductors connected side by side to form a ribbon. It can also be called zip-wire because the conductors can be separated from the ribbon. The wires are not wrapped in a protective jacket like other types of cable but are individually insulated.

Coaxial cables have an insulated central conductor surrounded by a braided wire shield which is wrapped in a strong outer sheath/sheath. Coaxial is a three-dimensional linear form in which two or more share a common axis. This type of transmission line transmits high-frequency electrical signals at low loss. Some applications include the transmission of cable TV signals, broadband internet network cables, and the connection of radio transmitters and receivers to their antennas. Coaxial cables are composed of an outer plastic sheath, a braided copper shield, an inner dielectric insulator and a copper core.

Speaker cables are two or more electrical conductors (usually copper), each insulated by plastic or rubber. The two wires are electrically identical, but are marked to identify the correct polarity of the audio signal. Speaker cables are used for the electrical connection between the speaker and the amplifier source. There are three key electrical characteristics: resistance, capacitance and inductance. Low resistance allows more source power to pass through the speaker coil, which means more sound.

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