Wire Gauge – What it is and why it is important
You might think that wire equals wire, but there are some major differences for wiring. Gauge is a very important factor and if not properly designed can cause fires and the equipment won’t work. So let’s get into what wire gauge is and why it’s important.
American Wire Gauge (AWG)
AWG is the standard that is used to describe wiring in North America. Think of a wire as a highway for electricity. If you live in or visit Calgary you will know to avoid deerfoot at any cost around 4.30pm. The same goes for wires. Within a wire there is a so-called conductor, which is usually copper or aluminum. This is the part that is actually described by the gauge. Since there is only so much space, aka gauge in the diameter of the wire, there is only so much power that can be sent through the wire.
Contrary to what would happen on a road if you send to many cars on it, too much power will cause more friction and as such heat on the wire. This heat can be so extreme to cause the wire to catch fire. That’s most often how electrical fires happen. Since power is nothing but electrons that are charged and practically crashing into each other, the tighter packed they are, sending too much current through a wire is detrimental to the device on the other end and the wire itself.
So now that we have bored you with the details of why gauge is important. Let’s define the actual AWG standard here. Wire gauge is defined by a number, that is the actual Gauge. The smaller the number, the larger the wire. There are set Ampacity numbers, of the number of Amperes that can safely be pushed through the wire. Each gauge number corresponds to a certain surface area on the wire. Stranded wire will always have a slightly larger diameter than a solid wire due to the gaps between the individual strands.
Data Transfer Quality
Ethernet Cabling is another example of why the wire gauge matters. Cat 5 cabling for example is a 24-26 gauge wire, while Cat 6 is a 22-24 gauge. The thicker the wire, the more data can be pushed through it, as the wire supports a higher frequency of data throughput. This enables higher data transfer speeds. The shielding also plays a major part for the data transfer speeds. Learn more on the standards for Ethernet wiring here.
Get in Touch
Ensuring you have the right cabling for the job is absolutely crucial. Let us help you find out what wiring has been used, and whether you need anything updated. When we install a project we use the latest wiring standards to ensure the longevity, future-proofing and safety. Feel free to contact us with any questions or comments. You can call us at any time at (403) 477-4800 or email us at [email protected].