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What are the Different Types of Antenna Wire?

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  • Written By: Lori Kilchermann
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 18 September 2016
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There are many factors to consider when selecting antenna wire, such as wire design, size and material. Two main considerations when deciding on antenna wire are whether it will lay on the ground and if it will be used for transmitting sound or simply listening. Once those factors have been decided, determining the length of the antenna wire required to complete the job is the next logical step.

There are two basic types of antenna wire—solid wire and braided wire. The two types of wire are equally operational, and to the layperson, the difference is negligible. Solid wire is more easily broken and damaged—this is especially true with smaller-diameter wire. Braided wire is typically easier to use and is more forgiving to bending and connecting than the solid wire. When using a braided wire, it is important that none of the wire be nicked or cut when stripping its coating.

While solid wire is easily connected to a screw or bolt, soldering the solid antenna wire can often leave the connection overheated and brittle. When a solid wire is soldered, it is critical that the connection not be subjected to overheating. The use of a soldering iron or gun is the preferred method of making a soldered connection. Using a torch is almost surely going to result in premature wire failure.

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The actual material of the wire is not as important as many people may think. Copper, aluminum and other derivatives of metal wire all function nearly the same. The determining factor in this scenario may be the market value of the preferred metal. If copper is less expensive than aluminum, a copper antenna wire may be the best choice. Conversely, if copper is less expensive than other metals, it may very well be the wire of choice. Depending on the length of the antenna wire, cost might be the dictating factor in wire selection.

The ultimate placement of the wire is the deciding factor when choosing between wire insulated with or without a coating. If the wire is high in the air with nothing close to interfere with it, non-coated antenna wire may be used. If the wire will lay on the ground or come into contact with anything in the air such as tree limbs, an insulated or covered antenna wire should be used.

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