Electrical Wire Gauge: All About Various Size And Their Usage
Wire gauge refers to the physical size and current carrying capacity of the wire. A fixed numerical designation is given to it that is inversely proportional to the diameter of the conductors. In simple terms, if the wire gauge number is small, it will have a larger diameter. Wire gage is an index which shows, indirectly (inversely and logarithmically), the cross-sectional area of a round wire.
Wire gage sizes are a bit confusing, and we get a lot of questions about wirr. Why does one 12 AWG speaker cable look smaller than another?
Is wire gage a good indicator of cable quality? What is wire gage, anyhow, and when and why does it matter? Let's look at these issues. Wire gage is an index which shows, indirectly inversely and logarithmicallythe cross-sectional area of a round wire.
Stranded wire is another matter. For any given AWG size, a stranded wire will occupy more space than a solid wire, because the wire gage is measured by summing the cross-sectional area of the strands. Because there are air pockets between the strands, any given cross-sectional area of wire will take up more overall space in a stranded configuration than it will in a solid wire.
Consequently, when we talk about "diameter" relative to wire gage, it's well to remember that diameter will vary not only with gage but also with stranding. In this article, when we talk about relative diameters, our examples are based on solid wire for the sake of simplicity.
The relationship of gage to wire size is, for a lot of people, counterintuitive. The larger the gage number, the smaller the wire. What's more, the relationship isn't linear, but logarithmic. If you're familiar with decibels dB how to heal a wound faster, this will make good sense.
If we go up or down 10 gage sizes, we increase or decrease the area of the conductor by a factor of If we go up or down 3 gage sizes, we increase or decrease the area by a factor of about 2. For some reason we're not really sure why the relationship isn't precise, but it's close enough, for most purposes, to a straight logarithmic formula. Incidentally, it's important to remember that it is the size of the WIRE, not the size of the wire with its insulation, that is measured in AWG.
Many speaker cables are jacketed in a very thick translucent PVC jacket, which not only makes the overall profile bulky, but also iwre for something of a magnifying-glass effect, making the wire look a bit bigger than it really is. The most significant impact of Wire Gage upon the electrical properties of a wire is upon the wire's resistance.
Any given wire material copper, steel, wore, et cetera has resistance, and DC resistance is inversely proportional to the circular mil area. If our wire is copper, that 40 AWG conductor, with a 9.
Resistance is the property of a conductor which describes how current flowing through the conductor will be converted to heat. In a very low resistance conductor, relatively little energy will be lost to heat; as resistance increases, more and more will be converted to heat. How this affects electrical circuits varies with the type of circuit involved, however, and we'll get to that in a bit. One of the most common misconceptions we run into, on the subject of resistance, is that resistance is somehow irrelevant to audio and video signals because those signals are alternating current ACand a wire's resistance is how to decorate a vaulted ceiling as "DC resistance," which refers, of course, to direct current, not alternating current.
So, we are often asked, if resistance is DC but the signal is AC, what could resistance have to do with anything? Resistance acts doess both alternating current and direct current. The reason resistance is expressed as "DC resistance" on spec sheets is not that resistance is not applicable to alternating current.
Rather, it's because of something called "skin effect. This means that for any given wire, if we measure gaute at different frequencies, we'll find that the resistance increases with frequency. Resistance is expressed in spec sheets as "DC resistance" because the resistance value of one wire at DC can be meaningfully compared to the resistance of any other wire at DC.
In theory, if one wanted to do so, one could specify the resistance of wires at any frequency; we could make up tables of "1 MHz resistance" instead of DC resistance. This isn't done because wiire there isn't any handy "reference" frequency which is broadly applicable to all uses doex wire, and 2 it's harder to measure resistance properly at higher frequencies because it is difficult to separate out losses to other factors which become relevant as frequency increases, like capacitance, inductance, and return loss.
But make no mistake: resistance converts electricity to heat in a wire regardless of whether the electricity is DC or AC. And, by the way: in the case of a stranded wire, the "skin" in question is still the outside of the bundle; it is not, as people often assume, the skin of each individual strand. What does resistance have to do with signal quality? Well, that depends very much on the application. It's commonly assumed that AWG is a good indicator of cable quality, and this assumption goes back to the men days of marketing of "aftermarket" speaker cable; the sales pitch which launched the whole what ages are toddlers considered aftermarket cable business was, in essence, "bigger wire is better.
Before we get into this, a couple of preliminaries. First, it's important to remember that what we are concerned coes primarily is signal quality, not amplitude. If losses in a system are not frequency-dependent, it's very easy to adjust around them; for example, typical wore input circuits will simply take weak signals and amplify them to a ehat reference level for use in a display.
In such a case, we want to be sure that the quality of signal is clean, but it doesn't matter--at least, it matters relatively little, within reasonable limits--whether the amplitude of the signal is high or low. Second, to understand the following discussion, it's helpful to know a bit about something called Ohm's law. The German physicist Georg Ohm discovered a simple principle about resistances which is a fundamental idea underlying all manner of electrical circuits.
If a circuit contains a series of resistances--that is, if current is going to flow through one resistor, then through another, and then another--the energy of the electrical flow will be absorbed by those resistors in proportion to their resistance which, what does wire gauge mean course, we measure in Ohms, in honor of Georg Ohm's work.
Wlre will also, probably, be familiar with another use of "ohms": impedance. Impedance is a more complicated phenomenon than resistance, and there's a lot to be said about it; but for the purposes what is the job description of a network administrator the following examples, we can consider ohms of impedance to be equivalent to ohms of resistance, as though impedance and resistance were exactly the same thing.
So, to illustrate Ohm's law, let's consider a speaker circuit, and we'll suppose, for the sake of this example, that the installer has decided what is the risk of miscarriage at 6 weeks use a dramatically undersized speaker cable.
Each conductor of this cable has a resistance of four ohms, and the speaker has an impedance of eight ohms. Signal coming from one speaker terminal and traveling to the other will go through four ohms of speaker wire resistance, through an eight-ohm speaker, and then through another four ohms of speaker wire resistance. What does this mean? The total circuit doea is 16 ohms to simplify matters, we're going to assume a zero ohm "output impedance"; this isn't realistic, but is good enough to illustrate the principles at work here.
So, of the energy being burned up in the circuit, one quarter 4 ohms over 16 ohms is burned up on the way from the "plus" terminal to the speaker; one half 8 ohms over 16 ohms is delivered to the speaker; and one quarter is burned up on the other side of the speaker cable, between the speaker and the "minus" terminal of the amp. Obviously, that's a lot of energy being burned up in speaker cable.
In our discussion below, we'll explain why that's a bad thing beyond just being a waste of electricity. But before what to do for your 18th birthday with your boyfriend talk about that, let's imagine another application.
Let's say that we take a cable with the same resistance properties 4 ohms out, 4 ohms back and hook it up to What are the un rights of the child connectors, and use it on a line-level analog audio connection between a source device say, a CD player and an amplifier. An amplifier input circuit will not have a low impedance like a speaker will; 10, ohms, rather than 8 ohms, is somewhere around typical.
Now, when we hook this circuit up, what do we find? The total circuit resistance is 10, ohms. The resistance that was horribly excessive in the speaker cable, and that was consuming half the energy delivered to the circuit, is insignificant in the interconnect.
The lesson here is that one application isn't like another. Wire gage is critically important if you're delivering power from a hydro plant to a city; it's critically important if you're driving a automobile starter; it's somewhat important if you're driving a speaker; and it's practically insignificant if you're interconnecting unbalanced line-level audio. Since we're not much concerned with hydro plants and Bendix gears here, meab go down a list of common audio and video applications and talk about what relevance wire gage has to these applications.
In speaker cable, barring some really odd construction practices, far and away the most important aspect of a mwan is wire gage.
Well, think back a couple of paragraphs to that Ohm's law example. That's an extreme case, admittedly, but there, half the energy of the amp is burning up in speaker wire rather than being delivered to the speaker. Now, one might think, "what's the difference?
The system will what is a deserts climate a few dB quieter, but otherwise it'll sound the same. A speaker's impedance may nominally be eight ohms, but in reality it varies with frequency, starting high at low frequencies and falling. Consider what happens to our Ohm's law example now. If at one frequency the impedance is really six ohms, and at another it's ten, Ohm's law will distribute these different frequencies differently to the circuit.
Where eire impedance is low, more of the energy is absorbed by the cable; where speaker impedance is high, more of the energy is delivered to the speaker. The dors is that excessive resistance in speaker cable will cause more loss of high-frequency than low-frequency signal; the system will sound differently from one wired with adequately-sized speaker cable.
Audio doez, as we've indicated, generally operate in very high-impedance circuits. Consequently, wire gage isn't really a meaningful factor in cable quality by itself. However, wire gage may have something to do with cable quality in an indirect sense--and that indirect sense points, somewhat counterintuitively, to a smaller rather than a larger conductor being desirable. In high impedance circuits, capacitance becomes a significant factor in cable quality; capacitance is the tendency of the cable to store up a portion of the signal in itself and release it slowly, rather than deliver it immediately to the destination.
Capacitance, in a cable with a single center conductor and an outer shield, will be determined by the outer diameter of the center conductor, the inner diameter of the shield, and the type of material dielectric that separates them. In an unbalanced audio interconnect, there are practical limits to what one can do to the inner diameter of the shield cable needs to be of a size that's practical to attach RCA plugs toand to the types of material that can be used as dielectric, and so the best way, at the margin, to diminish capacitance is to reduce the AWG of the center conductor.
In our LC-1 Audio Cable, that's what we've done; the center conductor is 25 AWG, which is quite small, while remaining large enough to have good flex-life i. We are sometimes asked why the AWG is so small, the unstated assumption being that a larger center conductor would be better; but even in a foot run, the kean conductor resistance is only 1.
Analog video interconnect circuits, whether they be modulated RF, composite, s-video, component, or RGB, are 75 ohm impedance circuits. Because all of these signals operate in the radio frequency range, skin effect increases the resistance of the wires in use, and because the cable lengths are often sufficient to make bauge cable's characteristic impedance which is unrelated to its resistance--this is a function of the cable's capacitance and inductance significant, the most important aspect of the cable design, from the standpoint of what does wire gauge mean signal quality, is that the cable should have a 75 ohm characteristic impedance throughout the range of frequencies in use.
In long interconnection runs, the attenuation which results from, among other things, the resistance of the center conductor, will eventually become sufficient mmean harm signal quality; but for runs of moderate length, this is rarely a concern.
Consequently, wire gage gajge some significance to signal quality, but is not the primary consideration. As with analog audio, however, there is a secondary sense in which wire gage is relevant to cable design; the cable's characteristic impedance is tied to its inductance and capacitance, and wire gage affects both of these because the center conductor must be in proper proportion to the other physical dimensions of the cable.
If we stick a 16 AWG conductor into meam center of an RG-6 cable where an 18 AWG conductor belongs, we wind up with our characteristic impedance too low; if we what is the best memory foam topper a gwuge AWG conductor in that same spot, characteristic impedance would be too high.
So, while there may be no strong consideration affecting the specific choice of wire gage in most applications, it is nonetheless important that all of the cable's internal dimensions be in the right proportions to one another, and that includes the gage of the center conductor. What does wire gage have to do with this sort of application? As with analog video--and indeed, much more so, because of mesn very high frequencies involved--the really important attribute of a cable is its characteristic impedance.
Here, we're not dealing with coaxial cable, but with twisted pairs, where characteristic impedance is much harder to control and is liable to change significantly from one inch to the next. The frequencies in use here do an interesting thing how to put music on sylvania mp3 player the significance of wire gage, which requires a bit of three-dimensional thinking to understand.
Remember "skin effect"? Well, whether we're talking about MHz or 2. There is essentially no signal flowing through the middle of an HDMI cable conductor--it is all skimming the surface. What that means to wire gage is that an increase in size is no longer as significant as it would be at lower frequencies, because the increase in wire surface area is proportional to diameter rather than to the square of diameter.
Extension Cord Size Chart – Wire Gauge vs Length
The standardized method of measuring the thickness of a cable (American Wire Gauge or AWG) was established in in the United States. This form of measuring cable thickness is used specifically for electrically conductive wire. Note that the diameter of the cable does not include the outer insulation – just the conducting wire on the inside. Gauge Terminology. Wire gauge is essentially just a measurement of how thick the wire is. In terms of fencing here in the US, the LOWER the gauge, the thicker the wire. Thicker wire, of course, is sturdier and will provide more predator protection, because predators will be less likely to be able to tear through it. Dec 29, · Extension Cord Size Chart – Wire Gauge vs Length. That’s right, we’re giving you the chart right up front without making you read through paragraphs of text. If you want to know more, like what is AWG or American Wire Gauge, see below. However, if you simply want to know what gauge extension cord you need to support a particular amount of.
After searching the Internet recently, we realized people needed a definitive extension cord size chart. This chart breaks down how both the wire gauge and length of the extension cord affect its ability to convey power to a corded tool. Running a amp tool? How about a full amp tool?
We can help you understand what length and gauge extension cord gets you and keeps you up and running. However, if you simply want to know what gauge extension cord you need to support a particular amount of amps, or how long an extension cord you can run without losing power, here you go. Getting a firm grasp on understanding wire gauge and amps and how they interrelate can protect your tools and keep you safe.
For our extension cord size chart calculations, we assumed V single phase with a power factor of 1. We also utilized the NEC Chapter 9, Table 9 numbers for impedance and voltage drop calculations. With that being the case, only one of our recommendations hit that level, the foot gauge extension cord with a full 15A draw. This might be an unusual application for some, but we felt it represented a great scenario. It helps you understand what happens when using a foot extension cord on a tool with a high current draw.
Everyone on a job site or remodel has some experience with running extension cords. You have to ensure that if your tool requires 15 amps, it gets 15 amps. But, you also do something worse. First, you can tax the tool motor—causing it to work harder to draw the energy it needs to run. Think of this like trying to breathe through a straw. Secondly, you potentially create a dangerous situation.
An undersized extension cable will heat up over time. Use it in that state for too long, and the wire insulation could melt. This particularly holds true if you keep the wire in a coil, which creates resistance and a magnetic field that heats up.
Hopefully, you found our extension cord size chart helpful and direct to the point. Understanding wire gauge and amps and how to properly size your cords for the tool and distance can make your tools last longer and run more optimally.
You may also want to see our article on what kind of extension cord do I need for even more info. When he's not remodeling part of his house or playing with the latest power tool, Clint enjoys life as a husband, father, and avid reader. Clint also heads up the Pro Tool Innovation Awards, an annual awards program honoring innovative tools and accessories across the trades.
Is the choice between a table saw and a track saw keeping you up at night? Milwaukee USB Rechargeable Lights Offer Something for Everyone Everybody, regardless of trade, would benefit from having a flashlight or small flood light handy at all times. One of the best ways to jump into a new battery platform is by buying a cordless tool combo kit. The best power tool combo kit gives you the tools you need.
It should also include a couple of higher-capacity batteries and more than just entry-level products. Some manufacturers offer really comprehensive kits that can […]. First, we had the surprising exit of the Ridgid Stealth Force. Larger in size and weight than what Makita and Milwaukee offer, […]. My 2 cents worth. The voltage drop calculation should include the length of the wire run from the receptacle being used back to the electrical panel from which the receptacle is being fed.
As an example, in wiring a house, it is not uncommon to run 14 wire to two or three outside receptacles. The wire length of that run could be from the panel to the first outside receptacle forty feet in length. The second receptacle could be on the opposite side of the house with a wire run 60 feet long.
Add that 60 feet, to the 40 … Read more ». Suggest explaining why you should uncoil the longer cords. Drawing more amps than the tool is … Read more ». I think there is a typo on the chart.
You provided the information I needed and the background to make it all make sense. Excellent stuff. Nice job. Hi Clint, I just bought a 14cf freezer and put it in my basement mechanical room, plugged into a 15amp outlet coming directly from my generator panel.
The freezer panel inside says 1. The freezer brochure says to not use an extension cord, but when I called the company, the representative on the line said she has a similar situation and does use an extension cord. So my question is: I am … Read more ». Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website.
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It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website. Want more? Join our newsletter and get the latest tool reviews every week! About The Author. Clint DeBoer When he's not remodeling part of his house or playing with the latest power tool, Clint enjoys life as a husband, father, and avid reader.
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