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Speaker Wire Gauge

The word “gauge” means the thickness of wire, and while it doesn’t tell you exactly how thick or thin a piece of wire is, it’s the most common way to measure the thickness.

Wire gauge is measured in two ways: either by American Wire Gauge (AWG) numbers or millimetre (mm), depending on the country. The larger the number (meaning smaller diameter), the thinner that piece of wire will be. For example, AWG #10 wire has a bigger diameter than AWG #18 wire.

Speaker cable types?

 

A Speaker cable is suitable for connecting your speakers to the amplifier or receiver. Speaker wire disconnects easily if needed, making it more flexible than an electrical cord. With a 12-gauge wire, you must provide a 24-gauge speaker wire of equal length for proper impedance matching between the primary and secondary transformer connected to the loudspeakers.

What does gauge mean about power cable?

Gauge for electrical cable is the thickness in increments of 0.001 inch or 1/1,000 inch usually with 24 American Wire Gauge being the smallest commonly used size. And 0000 (4/0), the most enormous smaller cables, are stranded bundles of copper wire held together with an outside plastic coating. In comparison, more extensive lines may have only one central copper conductor hard drawn into copper tubing called “lugged” when placed into PVC sheathing.

The AWG (American Wire Gauge) standard indicates the sizes of round, solid, and compact stranded conductors, with the lower numbers 12-10 AWG having thicker but fewer strands and the higher numbers 14-4 AWG having fewer but thinner strands. A 50-foot package containing one 24 AWG and one 18 AWG speaker wire (two red + two black wires in each box) would be equivalent to a 100 feet of 16 AWG wire, for example, because you need two lengths of 18 AWG wire placed end to end to make up a single length of 24 AWG wire.

Types: speaker cable or hookup wire?

A Speaker cable is suitable for connecting your speakers to the amplifier or receiver. Speaker wire disconnects easily if needed, making it more flexible than an electrical cord. With a 12-gauge wire, you must provide a 24-gauge speaker wire of equal length for proper impedance matching between the primary and secondary transformer connected to the loudspeakers.

Hookup wire is used for current-carrying capacity serving as a reference guide when making connections in an electrical circuit. The lower the number of AWG corresponds with more excellent conductivity, whereas the higher number of AWG corresponds with less conductivity. Therefore, when selecting hookup wire, the first place to start is with the maximum current load of your circuit. 14-gauge wire is a good choice for general purpose applications since it can handle up to 15 amperes of current, which is more than adequate for most home projects.

What is meant by hookup wire?

Hookup wire is used for current-carrying capacity serving as a reference guide when making connections in an electrical circuit. The lower the number of AWG corresponds with more excellent conductivity, whereas the higher number of AWG corresponds with less conductivity.

Therefore, when selecting hookup wire, the first place to start is with the maximum current load of your circuit. 14-gauge wire is a good choice for general purpose applications since it can handle up to 15 amperes of current.

Speaker wire gauge chart

What is the smallest size wire to use for a hookup?

According to the American Wire Gauge standard, hookup wire typically comes in a solid core with an insulating jacket colour-coded. The AWG system defines wire size in terms of the number of wires within a given length of cable material. So, if you have a 14-gauge wire, there are seven strands inside the insulator.

What is a lower gauge speaker wire?

The lower gauge indicates thicker wire with more copper per foot, so it’s suitable for power transmission but may be harder to work with because it tends to resist bending without kinking or breaking. For most installations of 16-gauge wire or more prominent, it will be necessary to “tin” stripped ends of the speaker cable by dipping them into molten solder before attaching them to binding posts and banana plugs.

What is meant by 18 AWG speaker wires?

AWG stands for American Wire Gauge, a standardized wire gauge system used in the United States for non-ferrous wire (i.e., copper, aluminium, and copper-clad steel). This wire gauge standard was developed in the late 1700s and has been revised several times to arrive at its current form in 1962.

 

The general rule of thumb with more significant AWG numbers being smaller diameter wires holds except that 20-gauge and even 22-gauge speaker cable is available from reputable cable manufacturers such as AudioQuest and Kimber Kable. You should be able to handle these small gauges without too much trouble simply by not yanking on them.

Is there any relationship between wire gauge, speaker cable and current?

Usually, the amount of power transmitted down a wire is proportional to both wire diameter and cross-sectional area. Although in the case of solid conductors, the skin effect limits the effective cross-sectional area for AC currents (a topic discussed in greater detail later). The amount of power carried by an electrical conductor beneath its outer surface is minuscule except at highly high DC currents, where resistive heating becomes significant.

What is the most common wire used for hook up?

The 24 AWG speaker wire is a good choice if you are looking for a compromise between diameter and cost. For example, with a 100-foot spool of 14 AWG stranded, there would be seven strands that can each carry an amp of current. By contrast, if the same length were made from 24 AWG solid wire, it would have to be broken into four individual cables to provide this level of performance. So, in addition to being more flexible, the overall size savings would be at least 50%. So as you can see, higher gauge numbers result in smaller cables, so they’re easier to handle but have less current-carrying capability.

 

Does speaker wire affect sound quality?

The most significant factor affecting speaker wire performance is resistance, which rises as the length of the wire increases and its conductors become smaller in diameter. The other property contributing to overall line impedance (in addition to resistance) is the cable’s inductance. Even though there isn’t any such thing as a perfect (i.e., purely resistive) conductor, high-quality solid-core copper or silver wires can be made with low enough resistivity and near-zero inherent inductance. So they behave pretty much like perfect conductors over short distances (< 1 foot).

Why are some speaker cables stranded?

The stranded wire comprises many fine strands (usually between 7 and 36) that are individually insulated, then braided together. Stranded wire is way more flexible than solid-core wire because the overall cross-sectional area is much more significant, making it easier to bend without breaking any strands. Compared to solid-core wiring, stranded wires typically have less resistance but slightly higher inductance, so they’re not quite as good at transmitting electrical signals over long distances or when used with very high-frequency applications. However, for typical speaker hookup runs of 12 feet or less in length, their performance should be well within acceptable parameters. Solid-core wire can also benefit from tinning its ends by applying solder to increase the contact surface area.

Is lower gauge speaker wire better?

Size is a vital factor when it comes to speaker wire, and the bigger, the better. The higher the AWG (or lower gauge number), the greater its current carrying capacity, making it perfect for connecting amplifiers and receivers to speakers. Especially when using high-powered home theatre systems, thicker conductors can reduce resistance and signal loss and reduce the effects of impedance that increases with longer runs of the wire due to skin effect (discussed later).

Can you run a speaker wire next to a car's power wire?

When it comes to speaker installation, the thicker, the better as long as the current is within the maximum limit of your wiring and does not exceed its voltage rating. Although, keep in mind that some power cables can be hazardous if not adequately insulated (i.e., live cable touching bare metal). For example, running an 18 AWG cable next to or beneath a vehicle’s battery results in constant exposure to 120 VAC potential, which is enough to induce heart fibrillation in extreme cases. The primary rule here is: NEVER mix driving cables of different types such as speaker and power even though they typically use the same gauge number (i.e., 16 AWG).

 

How many watts can stock speaker wire handle?

When it comes to speaker wire, the bigger, the better its voltage and current ratings are not exceeded. For example, an amplifier rated at 200 watts into 8 ohms, 400 – 100 – 1000 – 5 – 20 – 50 = 975 watts.

How many watts can a 16 gauge speaker wire handle?

More than 15 amps should not be applied to 16 gauge wire (and 10 is better). Volts * amps Equals wattage (power). Volts are equal to amps multiplied by resistance (ohms). If we limit ourselves to 10 amps, we get 800 watts (10*10*8).

How many watts can the 14 gauge speaker wire can handle?

For a 120-volt circuit, you can load 2,400 watts onto a 14-gauge cable.

How many watts can a 12 gauge speaker wire handle?

 

12 gauge wire has a peak current of 20 amps and a continuous current of 16 amps. 120 * 16 = 1920 watts on a 120 volt circuit. 240 * 16 = 3840 watts on a 240 volt circuit.

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