Electrical Wire Types & Sizes

Electrical Wire Types & Sizes: Everything You Need to Know

Tech

When you’re shopping for electrical wire for your business, it’s critical to understand the diverse types and sizes available—or you could risk making the wrong choice. Wiring is essential for most electrical remodelling and repair jobs but having the right size and type of wire on hand is crucial.

This article will walk you through everything you need to know about electrical wire, going into detail about the assorted sizes and types. When you’ve finished reading, you’ll know exactly which type of wire will work for your project. Luckily, you can purchase the best fit from a trusted supplier like RS Components.

All about wire sizing

The size of an electrical wire generally indicates how much current the wire can carry.

Depending on their size, wires can serve different purposes. For example, thin wires usually serve low voltage applications because they’re less likely to overheat during a power surge. 

On the other hand, thicker wires typically serve higher voltage applications since they have greater power capacity.

Choosing the right wire size is crucial. For example, you won’t be able to plug thick or higher voltage wires into thin or low-voltage outlets—the current will be too strong, causing serious damage to the outlet and potentially causing a fire.

Low voltage cables

Wires typically fall into two categories: low and medium voltage. Low voltage cables are the more common variety, popular for industrial installations, mobile service, telecommunications, wiring electric panels, signal transmission, and more.

Some examples of low-voltage cables include:

  • Solar cables,
  • Aluminium cables,
  • Fire-resistance cables,
  • Halogen-free cables,
  • Power cables,
  • Ethernet cables (i.e. cat6 cable),
  • Electric panel cables.

Low voltage cables are especially popular for domestic or office use. You’ll also find them in small appliances and for office telecommunication systems.

Medium-voltage cables

Medium voltage cables are less common, but they serve a specific purpose. Common examples of medium-voltage cables include:

  • MV-90, 
  • RHVhMVh, 
  • RHZ1,
  • HEPRZ1.

RHZ1, HEPRZ1, and MV-90 cables are non-fire propagating and halogen-free, perfect for distributing and transporting energy across medium voltage networks.

RHVhMVh cables—typically made from aluminium or copper—are designed for more specialised applications. You’ll generally find them in applications where oils and chemical agents may be present.

Colour coding

Finally, it’s important to understand how the colour coding system works when shopping for electric cables. 

Colour-coded cables will feature a particular colour on their outer sheathing along with the individual wires within. These colours don’t usually indicate the wire’s rating or size but rather its standard use. 

For example, a red or black wire will typically serve ‘hot’ or current-carrying connections, while a bare copper or green wire will serve grounding applications.

Conclusion

Let’s quickly sum up what we’ve learned. There’s a broad range of wire types available on today’s market—and plenty of sizes, too. Understanding the difference between low voltage and medium voltage wires—along with their respective colour codes—can help you make the right choice.

By picking out the right type and size the first time, you won’t need to worry about hitting a roadblock in the middle of your business’s next project!