The Difference Between Cables, Wires & Conductors

Wire: A wire is defined as a single rod of metal with a small ratio of diameter to length.

Conductor: A Conductor is an uninsulated piece of metal suitable for carrying an electric current. There are different types of conductors, and they're known as solid conductors and stranded conductors. The stranded wires are made up of a group of smaller solid strands. These wires are twisted together to create a more flexible stranded conductor. For example, cables may be referred to as 7/36 wire in 26 AWG. The conductors have seven strands of 36 gauge wire, all twisted together to make the 28 AWG conductor.

Cable: A cable is either a single-stranded conductor or a combination of conductors insulated from one another (multi-conductor cable).

Stranded Wire & Cable Conductor Stranded Wire & Cable Conductor


 Multi-Conductor Cable vs Single Conductor
Multi-Conductor Unshielded Cable Solid Conductor Hook-Up Wire



Why it's important to use the correct cable size

  • The conductors within a cable are only able to carry a specific amount of voltage safely. If the current flowing inside of the cable exceeds the limits of that specific conductor, the cable's construction will eventually begin to deteriorate.
  • Each cable or insulated conductor will have a specified current carrying capacity, also referred to as the ampacity.
  • Certain sizes have increased the diameter or cross-section of a cable, decreasing the resistance and increasing the current carrying capacity.



Limitations to cable size selection

Wire and cables are created in standard dimensions. It's not uncommon for people to use a cable size up or down for specific applications. This is possible because the terminals are made to accommodate a range of sizes. Be aware of any limitation this may place on your selection.

 Wire & Cable Products

Advantages of using Wire & Cable

Wire: Using solid wire is perfect for higher frequencies, and it offers low resistance.

Cable: Cable constructions have high strength, are well insulated and are perfect for heavy-duty applications.


 Rules Applying to Both:

  1. Avoid placing loose wire and cables where they can become a tripping hazard.
  2. Damaged wire or cables must be replaced.
  3. Wire and cables should be polarised and have safety closures.


Twisted Cable



The correct cable size is an important consideration for all applications. Various conductor types, insulation materials, voltage levels, and conductor sizes can make it very difficult to find a suitable solution. Having supplied just about every kind of UL style and every type of approval on the planet, Sycor is a well-experienced wire and cable distributor that has the ability to help find and supply even the most hard-to-find products on the market.






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