The electrical system in your home is made up of more than just one type of wire—it’s a complex system with many different parts, all professionally manufactured to deliver electricity to your electrical appliances and devices in the safest way possible. If you’ve ever attempted to shop for electrical wire, you may have noticed that there are so many types to choose from. Here are some of the terms you may have encountered when you went shopping. Knowing what these terms mean is necessary to a safe and effective wire choice.
Wire gauge – refers to the actual size of the wire. It dictates the wire’s ampacity, or the amount of current that can pass through the wire safely. Common wire gauge sizes suitable for homes include 14-, 12-, 10-, 8-, 6-, and 2-gauge wires.
Wattage load – dictates the maximum wattage rating of an appliance, which should never be exceeded. Overloading of maximum wattage can occur when appliances are plugged into power outlets and extension cords unable to handle the load. Melting and fire can be the result.
Insulation rating or R-value – determines the wire’s resistance to conductive heat flow. R-value is defined by the wire’s thickness and density. The higher the R-value, the greater the wire’s insulating capacity.
Color codes – a wire’s color dictates what it does. Following the recommended use of a wire by its color is important not only to the proper function of an electrical system, but also to your personal safety.
There are many connections along the electrical paths that can fail or be disrupted, and there are many ways that electricity could go places you don’t want it to. That’s why when dealing with electrical wires and other components of your home’s electrical system, it’s best to leave the job in the hands of a certified electrician.
Checking for Incorrect Electrical Wiring, The Spruce
Electrical Wire Gauge, Ampacity, and Wattage Load, The Spruce