Stranded vs Solid Wire: When & Why It Matters

Solid vs stranded cable

Are you undertaking some new projects involving cables and intricate wiring but have no idea where to start? This is what you should know about stranded vs solid wires, when to use them, and how to choose which type of line to use for your specific project. Keep reading to find out which kind of wiring is right for you so that you won’t have to waste your time and money to fix things up later down the road.

The Basics of Solid vs. Stranded Wire

Solid cable is specifically designed so that the wire has non-conductive material to serve as a type of insolation. This type of line is typically utilized in situations where wires will not be continuously moved or flexed. Stranded cable, on the other hand, is comprised of a collection of small gauge wires that are compressed and isolated with non-conductive materials.

These cables appear in projects where the wire must be twisted up or routed into a cramped space. They are also used in areas where vibrations or continuous flexing of the cables is involved, such as with headphone cables, speaker wires, and appliance cables.

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When Are Stranded Cables Needed?

Testing electricity supply

For those taking on intricate projects involving the use of things like electronic devices, circuit boards, and other various kinds of components, stranded cables are the way to go. The wires will be able to remain protected and intact, even if they are bent or twisted when connected to their respective electrical components.

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The Pros and Cons of Stranded Cables

Pros

One benefit of stranded cables is that they are incredibly flexible and much easier to maneuver and route than solid cables. They are capable of withstanding large amounts of movement, vibrations, and flexing without wearing down and eventually breaking. This ability means that stranded cables don’t need to be replaced nearly as often as other cables and can save you both time and money, depending on what kind of project you’re doing.

Cons

Stranded cables are considered to be intricate wires, and as such, they will often be much more expensive than solid cables due to the complex manufacturing process that they must go through to be developed. While these cables provide a similar carrying capacity to solid cables, they also tend to be much bulkier due to their large diameter. Additionally, stranded cable lines are much more likely to be damaged or broken due to the corrosion from capillary action.

Finally, it’s essential to understand that stranded cables are not useful for preventing electronic interference. Air channels between each strand of wire are able to amplify what’s known as the “skin effect,” which is created by the magnetic fields present along the surface of the line. This can limit the cables’ conduction capabilities to the outer surface (skin) of the wires.

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When Are Solid Cables Needed?

Drums of colored cable wire

If your project involves working outdoors where harsh weather conditions could expose the cables to erratic movements, then solid cables would be the most beneficial to you. They also work well in situations where the utilization of heavy-duty applications could introduce corrosive particles to the line over time.

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The Pros and Cons of Solid Cables

Pros

Many people favor solid cables due to their cheaper cost compared to the more expensive stranded cable lines. They are simple yet very durable and resistant to many threats that could damage or break them over time. They are also far less prone to failure due to the effects of corrosion. These cables are also much more compact than stranded cable lines but still have a similar current carrying capacity.

Cons

Though these cables have many favorable characteristics that make them desirable, they also possess several flaws. One issue with solid cables is that they are typically sold only in small gauges. Additionally, the presence of consistent movement, flexing, and vibrations can eventually wear down the line and break it, resulting in the need for replacement wires and additional work.

Due to this weakness, these cables are not recommended for use in vehicles or other applications, such as robotics. If a project requires that the line be bent or maneuvered into awkward shapes, solid cables would likely be unable to remain fully intact due to not possessing enough fortitude and malleability

Conclusion: Stranded vs Solid Wire

Now that you’ve learned the basics of stranded and solid cables and the various pros and cons that both have to offer you, you can make a more educated decision for your next big project. Don’t forget to take in all of the different considerations, such as cost, durability, weather and corrosion resistance, and the effects of various kinds of movement and vibrations.

The last thing you want to do is have to shell out more of your time and money for expensive repairs and replacement cables later on down the line. Consider your project’s needs and choose your cables carefully. You always want to be sure that you’re using the best possible materials for the job.

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