Wiring Terms Explained

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Some of the terms we use every day to discuss electrical wiring can be more technical than we realize.

Wiring is the most important part of your home’s electrical system.  Dealing with wiring and the electricity it carries can take a great deal of knowledge.  (Which, of course, is why you have to call an electrician!)  Some of the terms used can seem pretty similar but have distinct meanings to those with electrical training.  This can sometimes lead to confusion.  In today’s blog, we’ll take a look at some of the common wiring terms that aren’t as synonymous as you might think.

Conductor:  In a broad sense, a conductor is any type of material that allows electrical current to easily flow through it.  It can also refer to an object that is used to move electricity from one place to another.  Many common metals are conductors, including aluminum and copper.  Not all conductors are the same however.  Some allow the electricity to flow through more easily than others.  Conductors are the opposite of insulators, which are materials that markedly slow or even stop the flow of electricity.

Wire:  A wire is a single strand of metal.  They are usually cylindrical and can be flexible or rigid.  Wires are used to bear loads of electricity or other other energy from one place to another.  Such wires are, of course, made of materials that are conductors.  Wires may be coated with or surrounded by insulators of one kind or another depending on how they are being used.  Even if this is the case, the wire is still considered a single strand of conductive material.

Cable:  A cable is one or more wires held together in a larger sheath.  A cable can perform the same job as a single wire (moving electricity or other energy) but on a larger scale.  In everyday use, the terms “wire” and “cable” can be interchangeable, but in electrical terms there is a difference!

Wiring:  This refers to all the wires, cables, and other electrical devices in a building.  It covers anything connected to this system, including switches, meters, lights, and any other powered device.  The term is less about individual parts and more about larger sections or the whole.  It doesn’t refer to specific wires or cables, but to the system itself.  

Romex wiring

If you’d like to discuss the wiring in your home, be it wires or cables, McCauley Electric can help.  Give us a call at 678-362-2881 to discuss your needs.  If you have any feedback you’d like to share, please leave  a review through Google.  Hearing from our customers helps us give deliver the best service possible!