Stranded vs Solid Wire: Choose to Your Desire

You might have gone through the situation where you have bought the cable and prepared all the equipment for new installation. However, the minute you installed it, you knew that it wasn’t the correct cable type. Generally, there are two types of twisted-pair copper wire, solid cable, and stranded wire. Now, with the same kind of insulation, it might confuse the heck out of customers about which type of cable to buy. For that, there is plenty of consideration about stranded vs solid wire.

Stranded vs Solid Wire: The Basics

Instead of diving deep into features, you can understand the physical difference between the two types of cables. As the name tells, the solid copper wire is much thicker and heavier, and it consists of only one gauge wire of copper. To indicate the size of conducting material, the manufacturers specify only one number, such as 24 AWG wire.

However, in the stranded version, each of the eight conducting wires comprises multiple thin copper wires. These various strands of copper wire are then wound together in a helix form, much like a rope. Stranded wires use two numbers, one to show the number of strands and the other to represent the gauge number. For example, the wire can be 7×32 of 7/32, indicating that it has seven strands of 32 AWG gauge to make up the conducting wire.

While things may seem easy, it still can confuse people when both types of wires have one gauge size. For example, there are category 4, 5, or 6 cables, labeled as 24 gauge. Then, you have to remember that both types of wires will have a gauge size. The only thing that matters will be the number of strands. If the label is just 24 Gauge, then it is a solid wire. However, if the tag is 8×24 Gauge, then it is a stranded wire.

Solid vs Stranded Cable 

Caption: Solid vs Stranded Cable 

Stranded vs Solid Wire: The Key Differences

Based on your application, many factors will determine which type of wire is best for you. Hence, you must understand your requirements, then compare both of the cables.

Stranded vs Solid Wire Current Carrying Capacity

The amperage load capacity of a conductor solely depends on the factor that how is the surface of that conductor. While the solid wire is better, it provides a steady current flow over large areas.

As the solid conductor is firm, it is most likely to withstand the vibrating sensation over a significant period. Moreover, if its installation is damaged for some reason and the water starts seeping in, there are still fewer chances that it will rust.

On the other side, stranded cables may not bring you a steady flow of charges as many strands are twisted into bundles. But as there are more strands, the sum of payments flowing in each strand might be more significant.

It may seem that the current carrying capacity of stranded wires is better than the capacity of a solid conductor. However, it is not the case. Using the same gauge rating of either type will give you the same current carrying capacity.

Routing

The stranded wire has a disadvantage due to its interior as it doesn’t have a compact conductor surface, its flexibility and bendability increase. Thus, you can route it more efficiently around bumpy areas than solid conducting wire.

Flexibility

Again, as the stranded wires do not have a solid inner, they can sustain more bending without breakage, and the solid wires do the opposite. So, you must use stranded cables rather than reliable cables if you do not want to replace the lines frequently.

Cost

Due to the usage of a single solid copper wire, the cost of manufacturing is much lower than the stranded wire. Thus, it is an affordable option if you have a lower budget.

Manufacturing Ease

As the solid wire is of single-core, it is much simpler to manufacture. On the other hand, assembling a lot of strands in a stranded wire makes the manufacturing process hectic.

Distance

If you want to use the wires for a longer run, solid wires may be better as power dissipation is much less in them. For shorter distances, stranded wires perform very well.

Caption: Solid and Stranded Cable 

Caption: Solid and Stranded Cable 

Pros and Cons of Solid Cable vs Stranded Cable As Ethernet

Overall, solid and stranded cables have the following advantages and disadvantages.

Solid Cable

Pros

  • An Ethernet cable allows the data signals to travel on greater distances with less signal loss or attenuation.
  • For the Power over Ethernet, it is a better option.
  • With traditional punch-down applications, the solid cable is a preferable choice.
  • It provides more durability and is excellent for outdoor applications.
  • For an In-wall or HVAC space installation, the technicians preferably choose solid copper cables.

Cons

  • Solid Copper wires are less flexible. Thus, you need to install it where there is less bending and stress handling.
  • If the cable is in bulk, you need to apply an RJ45 or other connector on both sides to terminate it on both ends.

Stranded Cable

Pros

  • Stranded cables are flexible. Thus, stranded threads are preferred for an area with stressed handling and a lot of bending involved.

Cons

  • Stranded copper wires have air gaps, thus interrupting smooth current flow. So, stranded cables are not ideal for going over more considerable distances.
  • Resistance is much more excellent than solid copper wires, so it is not a good option for PoE application.

Solid Wire vs Stranded Wire: Applications Consideration 

Currently, stranded cables are the norm in the telecommunication industry at patching areas. Here, the working zones may use more than 10 meters of long-stranded copper cables in the form of patch cables. However, you have to consider the primary type of application of copper wire, i.e., Power over Ethernet primarily.

As you use stranded cables for PoE application, the chances are that most of the power dissipates over the twisted copper wires in the form of heat. Due to heat dissipation, the temperature increases, and thus, the performance of the cable may decrease over time.

Moreover, as you connect the devices in the ceiling, like wireless access points of WIFI, security cameras, or Lights, the stranded wire patching may become an issue. So, as a rule of thumb, using a solid cable will be a better option in an environment where the temperature is not controlled, and there are not many bumps around the place.

Additionally, keep it short if you have to use the stranded cables as it gives you other advantages over the solid ones. Use a maximum of 5 meters or less and de-rate the channel length as per industrial standards.

Caption: Bulk of Cables

Conclusion

In Solid vs Stranded copper cable, many factors might affect your choice, and the elements may include cost, current carrying capacity or flexibility, etc. Either way, you need first to comprehend your need and then go for a single option. Here at Cloom, we offer help in wire harnessing and cable connection. So, to get your quote, contact us now.

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