What is the basic difference between wire and cable? - knoweasy

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What is the basic difference between wire and cable?

October 10, 2022

Wire and cable are terms that are often used in the electrical and communications fields. However, people are often confused by the two terms because they look similar but are quite different. In this article, we will give you a brief overview of the differences between wire and cable.



List some basic differences between wire and cable


The basic key difference between wire and cable is that a wire is a single conductor, whereas a cable is a group of conductors. Although, these conductors are made of a common material - copper or aluminum. Usually, wires are bare and stranded. However, some wires are coated with a thin layer of PVC. In the case of cables, they run parallel and are twisted or glued together to form a single shell. For safety reasons, an inner sheath and an outer sheath are made.


Metal wires

A wire is measured in terms of its diameter. Depending on the diameter of the wire, a gauge number is used to measure it. The smaller the gauge number, the thicker the wire. The perfect gauge used in residential applications is 10 and 20. However, remember that larger wires carry more current and can damage household appliances by blowing fuses.



A cable consists of a hot wire to carry the current, a neutral wire to complete the loop and an earth wire. Cables are classified according to the total number of wires of which they are composed and their size.



The different uses of electrical cables


Uses of electric cables

Wires are used to transmit electricity, carry mechanical loads, transmit telecommunication signals, heat jewelry, clothing, cars or any industrial manufacturing component such as pins, bulbs and needles.


Uses of cables

Cables are used for the transmission of electricity, for telecommunication signals or the transmission of power.



Types of wire and cable


Types of wire


1. Solid wire - Solid wire has a single conductor that is either insulated or bare and is usually protected by a colored sheath. This wire offers a lower resistance and is best suited for use at higher frequencies.

2. Standard - Standard wires contain several strands of fine wires stranded together. These wires are used where flexibility is required and standard wires can be used for long periods. In contrast, standard wires have a larger cross-sectional area than solid wires.


Types of cable


1. Twisted pair - A twisted pair consists of 2 strands of cable twisted together. This twist avoids the noise generated by magnetic coupling and can therefore be used to carry signals. Twisted pair cables are commonly used for data communications and telecommunications.

2. Multiconductor cable - This cable has 2 or more insulated conductors and is designed to protect signal integrity. Both twisted pair and multiconductor cables are known as balanced line configuration cables. 3.

3. Coaxial cables - Coaxial cables have an inner conductor which is surrounded by a parallel outer foil conductor which is protected by an insulation layer. In the cable, the two conductors are separated from each other by an insulating dielectric. These cables are usually used for television cables as they are more stable than twisted pair cables.

4. Fibre optic cables - Fibre optic cables transmit signals through a bundle of glass wires, which have a relatively larger bandwidth than metal conductors, which means they can carry more information and data. For this reason, fiber optic cables are used instead of traditional copper cables.



The different advantages of using wire and cable


Advantages of electrical cables

Using solid wire at higher frequencies is perfect, it offers low resistance and cost. Standard wire exhibits high resistance to metal.


Advantages of cables

Cables are very durable, well-insulated and stronger.


Rules that apply to both:

  1. damaged or torn wires or cables must be replaced.
  2. Ensure that all cables and wires are polarised and have a safety seal.
  3. Keep cords and cables out of the reach of children or, for the safety of children, switch to Finolex flame retardant cables.
  4. Avoid placing cords and cables in places where they can be easily tripped over.


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