How To Select Electrical Wires

Types Of Electrical Wires And Cables

Complete DIY House Electrical Work

How To Select Electrical Wires ?

Learn different types of electrical wires and cables used for the electrical wiring of the house. The selection of the wire is an important decision and it depends upon number of factors.

If you are planning to remodel your house interior or change the exiting wiring system then selecting the right wire and other components is a crucial decision.

The selection of the electrical wires depends upon the purpose and the electrical load that the electrical wire needs to safely handle.

The main electrical wire and cable types include single conductor wire ( single strand wire , multi conductor wire ( stranded wire ) , single , two and three core cables , armored wire ( armored cable ).

The house wiring system also needs other type of non electrical wires such as earthing wire, speaker wire, CCTV wires, HDMI cable , telephone wire and the earthing wire.

Types Of Electrical Wires And Cables

The capacity of the electrical wire to support the specified electrical load depends upon its size ( area or diameter ) and other technical specifications.

In this article, you will learn different types of electrical wire and cables used for the residential electric wiring projects , how to select wires, wire sizes, gauges, rated ampere capacity and other important related topics.

The information in this article will help you understand some fundamental knowledge about the basics of house electrical wiring and how to select electrical wires for your DIY project.

Types Of Electrical Wires And Cables

The electrical wires carry the electrical current from the main control panel to the various electrical points located inside the switch boards.

The term wire is often used to refer a electrical cable. In electrical jargon, the term wire is used to indicate the conductor.

Whereas, in electrical jargon the term cable simply means a wire with insulation cover.  However, it is a common practice to call a cable as wire that is mostly used for the home electrical wiring.

The electrical wires consist of a metallic conductor that actually carries the electric current. Different types of metallic conductors are used to manufacture the electrical wires.

Electrical Wires And Cables

A electrical wire consist of  either a single conductor or multiple conductors stranded together as a one conductor.

All electrical wires carry a cover of insulation material such as PVC or rubber to prevent the contact between the two wires.

The protective insulation cover on the wire also protects the user. The wires carry a live electrical current and any accidental touch can cause fetal electric shock.

The quality of the electrical wire is judged by the purity of its conductor material and the quality and thickness of the insulation material used in the wire.

Types Of Electrical Wires And Cables

The solid wire and stranded wire are two basic types of wires based on the number of electrical conductor present in the wire.

A single conductor wire is called solid wire or a single strand wire. Whereas , the wire with multiple conductors bound together is called a stranded wire.

In solid wire a single conductor is used for the flow of electricity. A solid wire is a more durable but lacks the flexibility . A strand wire is relatively more flexible as compared to the solid wire and it can easily bend as per the shape of the conduit.

The wires are mainly used in the electrical wiring of a house placed inside the conduit. The electrical wires are used for connecting the electrical circuits  with the main control panel 

Depending upon the type of the wiring system , the electrical wires can be placed  inside the casing and capping type conduit. In case of concealed wiring system the wires are placed inside the PVC pipe concealed inside the wall.

The electrician use both solid wires and stranded wires depending upon the application and the wire flexibility requirements.

The selection of the type of wires , rated capacity and other technical specifications depends upon the electrical layout plan for a house.

Home Electrical Wiring Layout

Types Of Electrical Wires And Cables

A single metallic conductor is referred as wire in the electrical jargon. Whereas, the wire  ( conductor ) with an insulation cover is referred as a cable.

In simple words, any conductor with an insulation layer is called a cable. Depending upon the number of conductors , a cable can be a single core , two come or multiple core cable.

The electrical cables generally sold in the market by various brands. Most countries have a uniform standard ( AWG And SWG ) in place for the electrical cables that defines the rated capacity and other technical specifications.

Electrical Cables

The electrical cables consist of three important parts. The innermost component of the cable is the metallic conductor, the middle layer is called dielectric ( Insulation material ) and the outermost layer is called a sheath.

Different types of cables are used for the electrical wiring work of a house. The technical features of the cables include armored cable and submersible cable.

The armored cable comes with an additional layer armor that protects the wire physical damage. These cables are used for underground electric connections.  

Types Of Electrical Wires And Cables

Different types of electrical cables are used in the house electrical wiring work . The type of the cable used depends upon the nature of its application and the rated capacity.

On the basis of the conductor material, the cable type include copper cable and the aluminum cables.  Similarly, on the basis of usage the cable types include over general purpose cables and underground armored cable.

Types Of Electrical Wires And Cables

The cable types are also specified on the basis of cross section area of the conductor . In the cable rating table, the cross section area of the conductor is specified in square millimetre with the  corresponding current carrying capacity in ampere. .

Some reputed electric brands offer cables with additional features such double PVC and cable with fire retardant properties.

The house wiring work also needs other type of wires and cables that do not carry the electrical current. These cables are essential part of the house wiring system.

The non electric cables include the telephone cables, CCTV cable, speaker wires, HDMI cable, coaxial cables and earthing wire. The earthing wire is a special wire without any insulation cover.

Types Of Electrical Wires And Cables

The house electrical wiring typically needs different types of wires ( technically cables ) for the electrical wiring project.

For example, you might need an armored cable that connects outside electric service pole to the main control panel of your home.

Similarly, for the internal house electrical wiring , we also need different types of electric cables ( you can call it wire ) with  different rated capacity ( specified as amperage ).

House Electrical Wiring Layout

The selection of the cables depends upon the electrical layout plan of the house. The electrical layout plan indicates the how electrical load for various rooms is distributed into number of circuits.

The layout plan also defines the layout of the cables from main control panel to the destination electric switch boards. Depending upon the electric load on the circuit the electrical wires with specified amperage are selected.

Home Electrical Wiring Layout

For example, the electrical circuits that are used for the highest electrical load such as room heater , hot water geyser and  air conditioner ( AC ) typically needs  4mm to 6 mm cable or even higher size cable that supports 50 ampere current.

Similarly, the cables used for lowest electrical load circuits such as led bulbs , ceiling fans ) typically needs  0.75 sq mm to 1.5 sq mm cable size cable that supports up to  7 ampere current capacity..

The exact size of the cables required is worked out as per the detailed electrical load calculation. You can refer to the cable size rating table ( Also called as Wire Table ) to find the wire rated capacity.

Cable Cross Section Area

Cable Current Rating

Circuit Braker MCB


7.9  - 15.9  Ampere  

8  Ampere  


15.9  - 22  Ampere  

15  Ampere  


22  - 30  Ampere  

20  Ampere  


30  - 39  Ampere  

30  Ampere  


39  - 54  Ampere  

40  Ampere  


39  - 54  Ampere  

60  Ampere  


39  - 54  Ampere  

80  Ampere  


54  - 72  Ampere  

125  Ampere  


72  - 93  Ampere  

150  Ampere  


117  - 141  Ampere  

200  Ampere  

Types Of Electrical Wires And Cables

The  AWG stands for American Wire Gauge  used in the US for measuring the size of the electrical wire and the current it can safely handle.

In AWG system the higher gauge number corresponds to the smaller size of the wire. The smaller size wire has higher gauge and carry smaller current.

For example, the wire with AWG of 10 has a diameter of 2.588 mm and can safely  carry 30 ampere of current.  Similarly, the wire with AWG of 20 has a diameter of 0.812 mm and can safely  carry 5 ampere of current.  

AWG , American Wire Gauge Wires

The resistance per unit of wire length is another important factor that needs to be taken into account. In AWG system , the wire with AWG 10 has resistance of 1miliohms and the wire with AWG 20 has resistance of 10 milliohms.

The  SWG stands for Standard Wire Gauge  is British rating standard used in the UK for measuring the size of the electricity wire and the current it can safely handle.

The SWG system is quite similar and comparable to the AWG system. In SWG system , the higher gauge number corresponds to the smaller size of the wire. The smaller size wire has higher gauge and carry smaller current.

Types Of Electrical Wires And Cables

In simple words , the electrical voltage is the measure of pressure for the flow of electricity current. For the sake of simplicity, we can compare the voltage to the water pressure in a pipe.

The two main types of voltage are AC voltage and DC Voltage. The term AC stands for alternate current  and term DC stands for direct current.

The electricity supply for residential units is of alternate current ( AC ) type. For example the , In USA the voltage for residential purpose is at 120 Volts at 6oHertz. Whereas, in UK and India the voltage standard is 230 volts at 50 Hertz.

Electrical Measure

Used For Measuring

Depends On



Electric Supply 



Wire Size & Rating



Conductor Type


Power Requirment

Wattage Of Gadget

Whereas, the ampere is the unit used for the measurement of electric current. In short, ampere is abbreviated as amp. The term amperage is used to indicate  the strength of electric current in ampere.

The wattage is a unit of measurement of electrical power requirements. The term wattage is associated with the electrical power requirement of the gadget.

For example, the heavy consumption gadgets such as room heaters, water geyser, air conditioning units ( AC ) usually needs high electrical power to function.

Types Of Electrical Wires And Cables

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