West Penn Wire Blog

Differences Between Wire and Cable

Posted by Samantha Flannery on Dec 5, 2018 3:00:00 PM
Although wire and cable are referred to as the same thing, they are different with separate characteristics. Both wire and cable are used in the communication and security world, and are designed to carry a message from one point to another. So what are the differences between the two?
Wire is a single conductor with one or multiple strands of copper, they are low resistance and cost effective. A wire is the conductor that makes up a component of a cable. They are also measured by their diameter which is commonly referred to as gauge (AWG) size and insulated capacity. They are two types of wires: Solid and Stranded.
Solid wire: Single conductor that can be bare or insulated. This offers low resistance and are best used in higher frequency environments due to the design but are less flexible. 
Stranded wire: Composed of numerous wires wrapped together to offer a larger conductor. This offers greater flexibility and higher resistance. 
A cable is a group of two or more insulated wires all wrapped into one jacket. Unlike wire, cable is designed with a "hot" wire carrying the current, neutral wire and a ground wire. They are classified by the number of wires it composed of and their gauge (AWG) sizes. 
A twisted pair cable is designed with two cables that are twisted together. The twisting helps to eliminate noise which is why it is used to carry signals. Twisted pair cable comes both shielded and unshielded. 
A coaxial cable has a single conductor in the center and is surrounded by a braided metal shield. Inside the cable 2 conductors are separated by an insulating dielectric. These cables are harder to install but used for networking devices such as TVs or cameras. 
A multi-conductor cable has two or more conductors inside of the jacket, they are insulated from each other, and can come in many variations. They are used to protect signal integrity by reducing noise and cross-talk.
A fiber optic cable transmit signals through a bundle of glass threads. Fiber optic cable have a greater bandwidth than traditional copper cable so they are used for areas that receive high amounts of data. Click here to learn the different between copper vs fiber optic cable.  
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Topics: Low Voltage Cables, Fiber Optic, cable construction, coaxial cables

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