When it comes to electrical repairs, it’s important to know about the different types of electrical wiring. Whether you’re trying to diagnose electrical problems around your house, or installing new wiring, it’s important to be able to identify the different types of wiring and cable. Here’s a run-through of the basics to electrical wiring.
When we talk about wire sizing, we’re referring to the diameter of the conductor of the wire. This sizing standard is based on the American Wire Gauge (AWG) system. The gauge of the wire relates to the wire’s current-carrying capacity. In a nutshell, the gauge is how much amperage the wire can handle. A general guide is the smaller the wire, the larger the gauge. The size of the wire that you choose needs to match the amperage of the circuit. If these don’t match there will be a risk of a short circuit which can lead to a fire outbreak. When it comes to home electrical wire, the most common gauges are 12 or 14-gauge wire. Appliances usually require a smaller gauge at around 6-10 gauge.
Before we talk about non-metallic cable, it’s important to understand the difference between wire and cable. Electrical wire conduct electricity and are individual connectors inside of a jacket. They can either be insulated or be bare. A cable is a combination of two or more wires which are assembled in a single jacket. The most common interior wiring is non-metallic or NM cable. Also known by a popular brand name: ‘Romex,’ NM cable is made up of three or more wires. These wires are wrapped in a flexible plastic jacket, which is also known as sheathing. An NM cable normally includes a hot wire, a ground wire, and a neutral wire. NM wire is used for many interior circuits including switches, outlets, and light fixtures
In some areas, NM cable isn’t allowed to be used, and armored or AC cable needs to be used. This cable dates back to the early 1900s but it still used today. As its name suggests, Armored cable is strong and has a flexible metallic sheathing which provides extra protection for the internal conductors. For regulatory reasons, AC cable isn’t allowed to be used in commercial buildings or residential projects that exceed three stories.
When it comes to a cable that’s good for outdoor conditions, underground feeder cable, or UF cable is the right choice. Designed for underground wiring runs, UF cable is a non-metallic cable and can be buried under the ground without the need for conduit. UF cable is waterproof and is also great for outdoor electrical projects.
Understanding the different electrical wire color-coding will help you to identify how different wires are used for different purposes. When it comes to cables, different colors reveal the amperage of the wires inside the cable. White-sheathed NM cable, for instance, is used for 15-amp circuits, whereas yellow NM cable is rated or 20-amp circuits. When it comes to the color of individual wires, this normally relates to the preferred use of the wire. Black and red wires are usually current-carrying connections, while white wires are normally grounded or neutral conductors. Green insulated wires are used for grounding wires. Be sure to check out some electrical safety tips before dealing with different color wires as it’s always good to be fully prepared and informed.
Electrical wires and cables have markings that are either printed or stamped on their outer sheathing. These markings help to provide important information such as the wire size, the material used, type of insulation, number of wires contained inside the cable. Knowing how to read these labels will prove to be invaluable to understand what wires and cables need to go where.
Service panels form the power distribution point of a home. All the individual circuits get their power from the main electrical panel and this panel also includes protective measures such as breakers and fuses. When it comes to wiring an electrical panel, we recommend that you leave this to the electrical professionals, as these can be complex electrical systems that require a level of expertise.
Although it’s easy to understand the home electrical wiring basics, wiring channels and circuits can easily become complex and confusing to understand. We recommend that you call on a licensed electrician from a reputable company to perform all your cabling and wiring maintenance. At Art Plumbing, Air Conditioning & Electric, we come with over 35 years of experience and offer a full customer satisfaction guarantee.
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