Common types of Electrical Wire used in the home


Knowing essential wire types are important to virtually any electrical project around the house. Once you are putting in new wiring, as an example, selecting the proper wire or cable is half the battle.

And once you’re examining existing wiring in your home, distinctive the wire kind will tell you load regarding the circuit the wiring belongs to—for example, once you open up a junction box and wish to work out what wires go wherever. Wiring for contemporary homes is sort of customary, and most homes designed when the mid-1960s have similar sorts of wiring. Any new electrical installation needs new wiring that conforms to native building codes.

Wiring Terminology

It helps to grasp some basic terms accustomed to describe wiring. Associate in nursing electrical wire may be a sort of ­conductor, that may be a material that conducts electricity. Within the case of menage wiring, the conductor itself is typically copper or aluminum (or copper-sheathed aluminum) and is either a solid metal conductor or stranded wire. Most wires during a home are insulated, which means they’re wrapped during a non-conductive plastic coating.

One notable exception is ground wires, that are generally solid copper and are either insulated with inexperienced overlayer or insulated (bare). The most common sort of wiring in trendy homes is within the type of Metalloid (NM) cable that consists of 2 or a lot of individual wires wrapped within a protecting plastic overlayer. NM cable typically contains one or a lot of “hot” (current-carrying) wires, a neutral wire, and a ground wire.

As another to NM cable, individual wires are often put in within a rigid or versatile metal or plastic tube referred to as a passage. The passage is usually used wherever the wiring is exposed and not hidden within walls, floors, or ceilings. These larger wires in your home ar carrying a circuit voltage, and that they are often terribly dangerous to the touch. There also are many wires in your home that carry a lot of lesser amounts of “low-voltage” current. These are less dangerous, and with some, the voltage carried is thus low there’s nearly no likelihood of shock. However, till you recognize precisely what quite wires you’re coping with, it is best to treat all of them as dangerous.

NM Cable

 Often referred to as “Romex” when one well-liked brand, NM cable may be a sort of circuit wiring designed for interior use in dry locations. Most NM cables have a planar cannular form and run invisibly through the walls and floor cavities of your home. The majority of the wiring in shops and light-weight fixtures in a contemporary house is NM cable. The foremost common sizes and their electrical phenomenon (amp) ratings are:

14-gauge (15-amp circuits)

12-gauge (20-amp circuits) 10-gauge

(30-amp circuits)

8-gauge (40-amp circuits)

 6-gauge (55-amp circuits)

NM cable is currently sold with a color-coded outer jacket to point its wire gauge:

White overlayer indicates NM cable with 14-gauge conductors.

 Yellow overlayer indicates NM cable with 12-gauge conductors.

Orange overlayer indicates NM cable with 10-gauge conductors. Black-sheathed cable is employed for each 6- and 8-gauge wire.

Gray overlayer isn’t used for NM cable, however, is reserved for underground (UF) cable.

 NM cable is dangerous to handle whereas the circuit handles ar carrying voltage.

UF Cable

 Underground Feeder Cable Image courtesy of Amazon Underground Feeder (UF) may be a sort of Metalloid cable designed for wet locations and direct burial within the ground. It’s normally used for activity out-of-doors fixtures, like lampposts. Like customary NM cable, UF contains insulated hot and neutral wires and a blank ground wire. however, whereas an overlayer on NM cable may be a separate wrapper, the UF cable overlayer is solid plastic that surrounds every wire. UF cable is generally sold with a gray outer overlayer. UF cable is additionally used for major circuit wiring, and it carries a dangerous quantity of voltage as long because of the circuits are turned on.


 THHN and THWN are codes for the 2 commonest sorts of insulated wire used within the passage. In contrast to NM cable, within which 2 or a lot of individually insulated conductors are bundled within a plastic overlayer, THHN and THWN wires ar single conductors, every with its color-coded insulation. Rather than being protected by NM cable overlayer, these wires are protected by cannular metal or plastic passage. Conduit is commonly utilized in unfinished areas, like basements and garages, and for brief exposed runs within the house, like wiring connections for garbage disposers and predicament heaters. The letters indicate specific properties of the wire insulation:

T: Thermoplastic

H: Heat-resistant; HH means that extremely heat-resistant

W: Rated for wet locations

N: Nylon-coated, for superimposed protection

THHN and THWN wires, have coloured sheathings that are usually accustomed to establish they operate during a circuit:

Hotwires: Black, red, orange

Neutral wires: White, brown

 Ground wires: inexperienced, chromatic

THHN and THWN wires ar circuit wires that ought to never be handled once the circuits are turned on.

Low-Voltage Wire

Low-voltage wiring is employed for circuits generally requiring 50 volts or less. Many common sorts are landscape lighting wire, system connections, bell wire (for doorbells), speaker unit wires, and thermostat wires. Wire sizes vary from twenty-two gauges to twelve gauges. Low-tension wires generally are insulated and will be contained in cable overlayer or combined in twisted pairs, just like lamp twine wire. It should be used just for low-tension applications. These are generally terribly little wires that are a lot of completely different from customary circuit wiring.

Serious shocks seldom occur with low-tension wires; however it’s still perpetually best to show off devices before operating with them.

Phone and data Wire

Telephone and knowledge wiring are low-tension wires used for “landline” telephones and web hookups. Phone cable might contain four or eight wires. Class five (Cat 5) cable, the foremost common sort of menage knowledge wiring, contains eight wires wrapped along in four pairs. It is often used for each phone and knowledge transmission and offers larger capability and quality than customary phone wire.

 Although knowledge wiring will carry atiny low quantity of voltage, something underneath thirty volts is mostly thought to be safe (a menage circuit carries regarding 120-volts of power). However, there’s perpetually a danger of knowledge wiring coming back into contact with menage wiring, thus you must treat it with caution, and avoid touching blank wires.

Coaxial Cable

 Coaxial cable is getting down to grow less common, due to the employment of alternative sorts of knowledge wiring, like HDMI, for TV knowledge transmission. Coaxial cable is a round jacketed cable that features an inner conductor surrounded by a tubular insulating layer, surrounded by a tubular conducting shield made of braided wire.It are often known by the rib connectors that are accustomed to creating unions and device hookups.

 Coaxial cable was once the quality for connecting TVs to antenna or cable service delivery and continues to be usually accustomed to connect satellite dishes or to bring subscription television service to an in-home distribution purpose. It generally has black or white insulation and is absolutely spherical in form, creating it simple to differentiate from NM electrical device cables.

The minuscule quantity of voltage carried by line signals makes it most unlikely to cause the shock of any type—provided the cables don’t seem to be involved with another supply of current.


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