Understanding The Electrical Wires & Cables In Houston In Houston

Many times, when we hear wire and cable, the terms are used for describing the same thing, yet they are very different components. A wire is known as a single electrical conductor, compare that to a cable which are wires that have been covered in the sheathing. In the past, cable was known as a nautical like of ropes for anchoring ships and in electrical terms, it is considered for the carrying of electrical currents.

Understanding Electrical Wire

There are several factors that will help your choice in electrical wiring including the applications, label information, and color. The information that is printed on the wire covering is designed to help you choose the best wire for your home’s needs. Below, you will find detailed information about several essential features of electrical wiring that will help you in choosing the correct composition.

Size Of The Wiring

Every type of application is going to need a specific size for installation, which is to be determined by the wire gauge. The most common of wire sizes are 10, 12 and 14, the higher the number, the smaller the wire will be as well as how much power it can carry. An example of this would be a low-wattage cord allowed with 10 Amps is going to require an 18-gauge wire whereas 100 Amp service panels will require a 2 gauge wire.

Wire Lettering

The letters XHHN, THW, THWN, and THHN represent the variety of main insulation types designed for specific wires. These letters will depict these specific NEC requirements:

Types Of Wiring

There are generally five forms of wire.

Triplex Wires- These wires are mainly used in single-phase service drop conductors between weather heads and power poles. These wires are composed of two aluminum wires which are insulated and wrapped in a third bare wire which is typically neutral.

Main Feeder Wires- These are the wires that connect the service weather head to the home. They are designed with solid or stranded THHN and the cable will be installed to 25% more than the required load.

Panel Feed Wires – These types of cables are usually black insulated THHN wires. They are primarily used to power both circuit breaker panels and main junction boxes. As with main power feeder wires, these are rated 25% more than their actual load.

Non-Metallic Sheathed Wires – Also known as Romex is typically used in homes and will have 2 to 3 conductors, each one with plastic insulation and a bare ground wire.

Single Strand Wires – These will also use THHN wire, although there can be other variants. Each wire will be separate and several wires can easily be drawn through a pipe if needed. Single strand wires are the most common and popular choice for designs that use pipes as a container.

Color Codes

Wires of different colors are going to have various purposes:

Back is generally used for outlets and switches.

Whereas red is a hotwire designed for switch legs. In some cases, it can be used between two hardwired smoke detectors.

Blue and yellow are hotwired that are pulled into a conduit. Blue is used for a 3-4 way switch and yellow is used for switch legs in the control of lights and fans.

White will always be the neutral wire.

Green and bare copper wire are used only for grounding.

Wire Gauge, Ampacity, & Wattage Load

In order to decide upon the correct wire, one must consider what wattage and ampacity the wire is able to carry. The size of the wire is known as wire gauge and the amount of electricity able to flow and wattage is the full load the wire can take, which is always listed on the appliance.

Understanding Electrical Cable

Every electrical cable offers a variety of colors and applications that must be determined before a project. Below we will discuss the variety of cables that are typically used in the home and how you can identify the right one.

Types Of Electrical Cables

There are well over 20 types of electrical cable available on the market designed for a wide range of uses including transmissions to heavy-duty usage. Some of the most common forms of cables in use are:

Non-Metallic Sheathed Cable – These NM cables offer a plastic jacket with two to four wires as well as a bare wire designed for grounding.

Underground Feeder Cable- These types of cables are similar to the NM cables, however, they are not wrapped in a thermoplastic container and the wires are grouped together in a flexible container.

Metallic Sheathed Cable – These cables can be found under the name of BX cables and are typically used for large appliances or electricity. They will feature three standard copper wires which are insulated with PVC bedding, cross-linked polyethylene, and PVC sheathing.

Multi-Conductor Cable – This is one of the most common home cables due to the fact that it is simple to use and features very good insulation. These will offer more than one conductor, with each being insulated.

Coaxial Cable – this type of cable will feature a type of tubular insulation that is designed to protect the inner conductor which is also shielded, with the possibility of an outer sheath.

Unshielded Twisted Pair Cable – As the name would suggest, this cable will consist of two wires that have been twisted together. Each of the individual wires will not be insulated, which makes this an optimal cable for video applications and signal transmissions.

Ribbon Cable – These cables are often found in computers, where the wires must run on a flat plane, parallel to one another.

Direct-Buried Cable – Sometimes referred to as DBCs, these cables have been specially designed to be buried without the need for additional insulation or sheathing.

Twin-Lead Cable – these are two flat cables that are used for transmissions between an antenna and a television or radio.

Twinaxial Cable – While similar to a coaxial cable, these will feature two inner conductors as opposed to ore and is designed for short-range signals.

Paired Cable – Featuring two insulated conductors, this particular cable will be used in low-frequency DC or AC applications.

Twisted Pair – This cable is quite similar to a paired cable, however, the inner insulated wires are intertwined or twisted together.

Cable Color Code

Cables are color-coded in an effort to determine neutral, earth and active conductors. The NEC has not ordered a specific color set for active or phase conductors. However, different countries will use various color coding, which is why it is essential to understand your specific region. You may find active conductors green, yellow, black, light blue or a combination of yellow and green.

Cable Size – The size of the cable is used to gauge the wires found within, such as 10, 12 and 14. Once again, the bigger the number is the smaller it is in size. The number of wires will follow the wire-gauge found on the cable. For 10/3, that would simply mean 3 wires offering 10 gauge with that specific cable. If a grounding wire is present, it will not be indicated by a number but rather the letter “G”.

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