In assessing a given electrical conductor, it is important to remember that AWG is a measurement that is primarily intended to measure a cable’s current carrying ampacity. Two different cables of the same gauge (for example, 6 AWG) might have very different appropriate uses given their other traits. Here are only some of them.
For example, a 6 AWG marine wire would be similar in cross section thickness to a 6 AWG welding cable, but the two have somewhat different traits. Welding cable, it is true, is made with a very high strand count so that it remains as flexible as possible. The same could be said for marine grade wire, except that marine grade wire is made of individually tinned conductors to prevent corrosion. While welding cables have been used in battery wiring, they’re not as well adapted to survive in a corrosive environment.
In addition to strand count and tinning of the conductors, a lot goes into shielding and insulation. Unshielded cables are naturally more susceptible to electromagnetic interference (EMI) than shielded cables, so in any situation in which the cables are responsible for transmitting crucial data, it is wiser to use a shielded model.
As far as insulation is concerned, there are many different types of electrical insulation that are commonly used, so again, no two 6 AWG wires or cables could be considered equally useful if they had different insulation.
For example, many different types of wires are made with some type of polyvinyl chloride insulation, which is better known by its other name, PVC. PVC is a tough, flexible plastic that affords reasonable protection to electrical wires in many situations, as well as a measure of resistance to acids and bases. However, PVC also dissolves in the presence of gasoline and some oils can make the material brittle, diminishing its flexibility.
While it might be practical to outfit some building cables with PVC insulation, the same couldn’t be said for the welding cable mentioned above, because welding cables may come into contact with gasoline and oils in situ. As a counterpoint, the welding cables found online at EWCSWire.com are made with EPDM rubber insulation that is flexible and tough.
EPDM, which stands for Ethylene-Propylene-Diene-Monomer, is more resistant to some of the stressors mentioned above than PVC is, and it is also resistant to extreme weather, acids and alkali materials, and even ozone. This makes this type of insulation suitable for use as photovoltaic cable insulation, among other applications.
Other cables, like DLO (Diesel Locomotive Cables) have some combination of the traits mentioned herein to make them suitable for carrying large currents in industrial settings. Like marine cables, these are made with a higher strand count of individually tinned conductors – but they are insulated with XLPE, or cross-linked polyethylene, one of the toughest substances on this list. It makes them resistant not only to oils, greases and chemicals, but also to ozone, sunlight, extreme weather and temperature and water. It’s also physically tough, one of the most abrasion resistant materials in this article.
If you want to learn more about how two seemingly similar 6 AWG wires or cables can be so different, who better to contact than the Electrical Wire and Cable Specialists mentioned above under the guise of EWCS Wire. Perhaps the two wires in question are very different, and maybe not, but if you want to know for sure, they’re your best bet for information.
Visit their website, EWCSWire.com, and contact them via their live chat, for more information, or send them a message at [email protected] Or, if you’d rather call them, get them on the phone at 800-262-1598 and ask away.