Wire vs Cable: What Is The Difference?


Did You Know?

In the electrical field, the terms "wire" and "cable” are often used to indicate the same thing. However, there are major differences between wire and cable that should be considered for an electrical project to be successful.

The main difference between the two is that “wire” is always a single conductor, while the cable is a group of conductors insulated together in a single jacket. In each case, the conductors are usually made of copper or aluminum or other conductive metal. A notable exception to this rule is a fiber optic cable that is made of optical fibers.

So, What is a Wire?

A wire can have one strand or multiple strands, but it always acts as a single conductor.Two common types of wire are solid wire and stranded wire. Solid wires are single stranded, whereas a stranded wire consists of multiple strands. Stranded wires are more flexible, whereas solid wires are usually tougher. It can be bare or insulated with a protective sheath. Wires are commonly used to carry electricity and telecommunication signals in commercial and residential buildings. They demonstrate an excellent performance at higher frequencies. The benefit of using wires is that they are cheaper than cables, which can help one to save energy costs. Wires are not used in industrial applications that require the heavy-duty strength of a cable.

  Wires are classified according to the gauge number and the electrical capability of the insulation. They can be used independently or as a component of a cable.  

And, What is a Cable?

Just like wires, cables are also used to carry the electrical signals. However, there is more variety to them. Some common cable types include multiconductor AC power cables, twisted pair cables, coaxial cables, and fiber optic cables. All of these cables have different mechanisms that suit their exact purpose. In coaxial cables, two conductors carry different signals. In thunderbolt cables, conductors carry power and multiple signals. In most cables, the conductors are working together to carry the signal. 

There is an immense variety of cables on the market for every imaginable purpose. Common uses of cables include power and signal circuits in electronic devices; power transmission and lighting in buildings; long-distance undersea communication, etc. 

Central classifications of a cable include gauge number, wire number, and the color of the jacket. However, there could be more classifications depending on any additional characteristic.

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