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What Are the Different Types of Electrical Wiring?

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  • Written By: Klaus Strasser
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 27 July 2014
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Electrical wiring refers to the system of conductors and other devices that are used to carry electricity. The different types of electrical wiring that are used usually varies according to three factors: purpose, quantity of electricity to be carried, and location. For example, a home will require less power than an office building. This means that the appropriate electrical wiring system will typically try to maximize energy efficiency in a safe manner.

The wire itself is also known as an electrical conductor. It is commonly made of copper and other, similar materials that are good at transmitting current. The wire is usually insulated, in order to protect the conductor from becoming damaged. Insulation can be made from materials such as plastics and fibers. The type of insulation used usually depends on where the electrical wiring is to be installed.

There is an international standard for the types of wires and cables used in electrical wiring systems. This enables electricians and laymen to know what kind of wires comprise an electrical system. For example, color coating is employed to help identify wires for safety, installation, and repair purposes. These colors, however, are not the same everywhere. For example, a brown-colored wire usually denotes a live wire in European Union countries, Australia, and New Zealand. In contrast, a black brass color is used for these wires in the United States and Canada.

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Stranded wires is a type of electrical wiring often employed in homes. This design consists of a number of small-gauge, solid wires that are wrapped around a central wire. The stranded wire can increase the amount of electrical power that can be carried in the wire. It is also commonly used because it is flexible and easy to shape, which is ideal for fitting electrical wiring behind the walls of homes.

Wiring systems that are located outside should be able to withstand the elements. Common insulators for outdoor wires include thermoplastics. Insulation on this type of system should also be resistant to ultra-violet rays.

Fiber-optic and wireless, or Wi-Fi, systems may change the future of electrical wiring in residential homes. For example, the traditional copper wire material could be replaced by fiber-optic systems, which use light pulses to carry electric current. The Wi-Fi system uses radio waves that are carried through the air, and are received by a central receiving connector. This application is already used by some home computers to allow Internet use and replace the need for modems and many connecting wires.

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Discuss this Article

anon936778
Post 6

I have an older home that uses single conductor wires for much of the electrical wiring. I need to do something with the electrical wiring.

SkyWhisperer
Post 4

I’d have to agree with hamje32. I work in the electrical industry myself. I can tell you that most people don’t realize the amount of power carried through outdoor electrical wiring. Yes, the high voltage from the power plant gets “stepped down” before it reaches your house, but it’s still powerful stuff.

I’ve actually heard public service announcements on the radio where people are warned not to use wires from downed power lines for scrap metal. I couldn’t even believe people were doing that, but they are.

We had an ice storm a few years with downed power lines all over the place, and public service announcements were going on constantly warning people to stay away. My advice is to call an electrician and give them an idea of what you’re trying to do. It might be easier, and cheaper—and certainly safer--than you think.

hamje32
Post 3

@Mammmood - what about current? My understanding is that the electric wiring in older homes was designed to take on lighter loads than what modern appliances and electronics demand. Personally, I don’t think you should make this a DYI project, even if you think it’s on a small scale. Even thirty minutes of consultation with a professional electrician could save you a lot of time and trouble—and potential harm.

David09
Post 2

@mammmood - I’m not an electrician myself, but from what I’ve read you can use either that older wiring for residential electrical wiring or the newer, multi-conductor wiring on the house. You could always just call an electrician and ask them that—I don’t think they would charge for that. Multi-conductor wires come with grounding and some separation and are common for household wiring tasks.

Mammmood
Post 1

I’ve got an older home that uses single conductor wires for much of electrical wiring. I need to do some electrical work on the house and was wondering if I need to use the old single conductor wires or the new multi-conductor cables that are in common use nowadays. I suppose I could call an electrician but it’s fairly simple work and I just need to know which wiring to use. Does anyone have any ideas?

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