How To Shop for Copper Wire Cables

Copper cables are the standard medium for transmitting electricity or electronic signals from one point to another. In any household, you find the need to buy copper wire cables for your electronic peripherals, or when you are undergoing expansion projects that require additional wiring.

Purchasing copper cables is not as straightforward as it seems, particularly if your project requires special cable characteristics. Here is a short guide on how to shop for copper wire cables for your electronic peripherals or household needs.

Cable type.  Cables come in different forms. Those that are intended to carry power from the fuse box to the power outlets are different from those that are needed to carry Cable TV signals from one room to another. Be sure you know what exactly you will be needing copper wire cables for before heading to the hardware store. Copper wire cables can come in pairs, such as those that transmit electricity or audio. Copper wire cables can also be coaxial, such as those intended for Cable TV.

Gauge. When buying cables, gauge is just as important as the type of cable you will be buying. Gauge is basically the thickness of the cable. The thicker the cable, the lower the resistance, and the higher the capacity of the wire to carry electricity. This is particularly important when wiring mains. Consider what the outlet will be used for. Will it be used to plug in high-current appliances like air conditioners and washing machines? Or will you just be plugging in small electronics like radios and computers? The smaller the gauge number, the thicker the copper wire cable.

Length. When shopping for copper wire cables, be sure you have the correct measurements before heading to the store. If you are running the cable through a wall, make sure you measure both the length of the distance from one point to another, as well as the elevation, such as if the wire will be running up the wall, through ceilings, and the like. Just remember that the longer the cable, the higher the resistance. Therefore, if you are connecting speakers, or the power line at a distance greater than necessary, you might end up losing the quality or current.

Insulation. The insulating material that covers the copper wire cable will also have an effect on its ability to conduct electricity. Common materials used for insulation are Teflon, rubber, PVC, and polyethylene. The type of material you need will depend on the application. Some materials, like vinyl, are cheaper, but have less resistance to heat and the elements. Some will cost higher, such as Teflon, but will have better resistance to heat and chemicals. Other materials offer resistance to fire and cuts.

A visit to your local hardware store would be the best start in shopping for copper cables. You can ask the manager or sales personnel for assistance, and he will most likely ask you a few questions regarding the type of equipment you will be using the copper wire cables for, and where the wiring will be situated. This will be helpful in selecting the best type of copper wire cable for your needs.


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