A wire is a single conductor whereas a cable is a group of conductors. Although, these conductors are made of a common material- copper or aluminium. Usually, the wires are bare and are twisted. But, some of the wires are coated with thin PVC layer. And in case of cables, they run parallelly and are twisted or bonded together to form a single case. For the safety purpose, an inner and outer sheath is made.
A wire is measured by diameter. According to the diameter of the wire, it will be measured by a gauge number. The smaller the gauge number, the thicker the wire. The perfect gauge that is used in residential applications is 10 & 20. But, do keep in mind that big wires carry more current and can damage household appliances by burning the fuse.
A cable contains a hot wire carrying the current, a neutral wire to complete the loop and a grounding wire as well. A cable is classified by the total number of wires it is made up of and their gauge.
1. Uses of Wire and Cable
A wire is used to carry electricity, to bear the mechanical loads, to transmit telecommunication signals, for heating jewellery, clothing, automotive or any industrial manufactured parts like pins, bulbs and needles.
A cable is used for power transmission, for telecommunication signals or to carry electricity.
2. Types of Wire and Cable
(a) Solid – A solid wire has a single conductor and is either insulated or bare and it is usually protected by a coloured sheath. This wire offers a lower resistance and is best to use in higher frequencies.
(b) Standard – A standard wire contains many thin wire strands that are twisted together. These wires are used where the flexibility is required, standard wire can be used over a long period of time. Comparatively, the standard wire has larger cross-sectional area than the solid wire.
(a) Twisted pair cable – A twisted pair cable includes 2 cables that are twisted together. This twisting can avoid the noise produced by magnetic coupling and thus it is used to carry signals. Twisted pair cable is generally used in data communication and telecommunication.
(b) Multi-conductor cable – This cable has 2 or more than 2 conductors which are insulated and their purpose is to protect the signal integrity. Both twisted pair cables and multi-conductor are known as balanced line configuration cables.
(c) Coaxial cable – A coaxial cable has an inner conductor which is surrounded by a parallel outer foil conductor which is protected by insulating layers. In the cable, the 2 conductors are being separated from each other by an insulating dielectric. These cables are generally used in TV cable as its performance is more stable than the twisted pair cable.
(d) Fibre optic cable – The fibre optic cable transmits the signals through a bunch of glass threads and comparatively, it has a greater bandwidth than metal conductors and that means they can carry more information and data. For this reason, fibre optic cables are used instead of traditional copper cables.
3. The Advantages of using Wire and Cable
Using solid wire is perfect in case of higher frequencies and it offers low resistance and cost. And the standard wire shows high resistance to the metal.
Cables are heavy duty, well insulated and have higher strength.
4. Safety Use
(a) Damaged or torn wires or cables must be replaced.
(b) Assure that all the cables and wires are polarised and have safety closures.
(c) Keep the wires and cables out of reach of children.
(d) Avoid placing wires and cables where they can easily be a trip hazard.