What is the different between speaker and power wire

Thread Starter

mrel

Joined Jan 20, 2009
163
Hi
(1) What is the different between speaker wire 10 gauge and power wire 10 gauge.
(2) Is 10 gauge copper clad aluminum wire good for solar panel use.
(3) A copper clad aluminum wire can you actually see the aluminum in the copper wire.
(4) when you don't have 10 gauge copper wire can you double two 12 gauge wire to make thicker gauge to equal 10 gauge wire.

mrel
 

MrSoftware

Joined Oct 29, 2013
1,775
I would not use aluminum wire anywhere that safety is a concern, such as any wires that carry enough power to start a fire if connections get loose or dirty. It's not even allowed by our building codes anymore where I live. You should calculate the gauge wire needed by considering both the current and length of the wire. In regards to speaker wire, I would look closely at the insulator around it to be sure the insulator is suitable for your use. Is it rated for the voltages that you'll be using, any exposure to elements (heat, sun, etc..), service life before it gets brittle, things like that.
 

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
7,281

ebeowulf17

Joined Aug 12, 2014
3,274
Regarding question number 4, two number 12 wires can certainly share current and together they'll handle more current than a single number 10, but there is a potential safety consideration.

With a single number 10 wire, and assuming proper use of fuses and/or circuit breakers, you can protect the wire from ever handling more current than it can safely carry.

With two number 12 wires, and the same over-current protection devices, if one wire gets cut or disconnected somehow, you now have the full current running through just one wire, with the risk of overheating it.

Theoretically, if you use parallel wires to share the load, you should provide fuses or breakers on each wire, protecting them each for their rated current independently, not as a group.
 

wayneh

Joined Sep 9, 2010
16,390
(1) What is the different between speaker wire 10 gauge and power wire 10 gauge.
Just in case it wasn't clear, there is no distinction in wiring based on the application. A 12 gauge copper, stranded wire could be used for speakers or for powering a lamp. The wire doesn't know or care whether you are using it for speakers or for power. Plenty of folks have repurposed old extension cords into speaker wires, for instance.

I'm not denying that different kinds of wire are preferred for different applications.
 

ebeowulf17

Joined Aug 12, 2014
3,274
Just in case it wasn't clear, there is no distinction in wiring based on the application. A 12 gauge copper, stranded wire could be used for speakers or for powering a lamp. The wire doesn't know or care whether you are using it for speakers or for power. Plenty of folks have repurposed old extension cords into speaker wires, for instance.

I'm not denying that different kinds of wire are preferred for different applications.
Although there are differences in insulation material and thickness which matter for certain applications. Wire sold for speaker use may not have insulation suitable for high voltages.
 

wayneh

Joined Sep 9, 2010
16,390
Although there are differences in insulation material and thickness which matter for certain applications. Wire sold for speaker use may not have insulation suitable for high voltages.
Yeah I struggled to convey the point. If a wire meets all the requirements of the job, it doesn’t matter what you call it. I guess my radar goes up whenever I hear “speaker cables”. That implies all the hocuspocus crap.
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
6,019
Just in case it wasn't clear, there is no distinction in wiring based on the application. A 12 gauge copper, stranded wire could be used for speakers or for powering a lamp. The wire doesn't know or care whether you are using it for speakers or for power. Plenty of folks have repurposed old extension cords into speaker wires, for instance.

I'm not denying that different kinds of wire are preferred for different applications.
There may be a very big difference between speaker wires and power wires, and that difference is in the insulation.power wire is rated for specific voltages, while speaker wire needs no such rating. Power wire can be safely used for speaker connections but I would not consider using speaker wire for power except in a life-critical emergency situation. That is what makes the difference, and it is a serious difference.

Of course, some folks can easily hear the difference between #10 power wire used to connect their speakers and the $5 per foot super duper speaker wire, when connecting their $7500 amplifier to their $8200 dollar speakers. I am not one of those folks.
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
6,019
But just think how the lights and appliances would work if Monster Cable, oxygen free wire was used to wire a house.
It would be a very expensive house indeed. And probably the equipment able to measure the difference does not yet exist. PLUS, is the insulation on Monster UL certified??? I don't think so.
 

Thread Starter

mrel

Joined Jan 20, 2009
163
I would not use aluminum wire anywhere that safety is a concern, such as any wires that carry enough power to start a fire if connections get loose or dirty. It's not even allowed by our building codes anymore where I live. You should calculate the gauge wire needed by considering both the current and length of the wire. In regards to speaker wire, I would look closely at the insulator around it to be sure the insulator is suitable for your use. Is it rated for the voltages that you'll be using, any exposure to elements (heat, sun, etc..), service life before it gets brittle, things like that.
Amazon selling copper clad aluminum wire , so are you saying copper clad aluminum wire not good to hookup 200 watts solar panel?
mrel
 

MrAl

Joined Jun 17, 2014
7,586
Hi,

I am under the impression also (as two other posts in this thread) that speaker wire insulation is not rated for the higher voltage usually found in regular zip cord used for lamps and such. The insulation on speaker wire may also not have the durability of regular 120vac zip cord used on lamps and such.

Here's a quick little wire table:
Code:
[FONT=Courier New]
AWG  cmils  Ohms/1000ft  DiaInches  DiaMM  I(600cm/A)  Ohms/KM
1  83694.5  0.124  0.2893  7.3482  139.5  0.4063
2  66357.8  0.156  0.2576  6.5430  110.6  0.5126
3  52624.4  0.197  0.2294  5.8268  87.7  0.6461
4  41738.5  0.249  0.2043  5.1892  69.6  0.8150
5  33087.6  0.313  0.1819  4.6203  55.1  1.027
6  26244.0  0.395  0.1620  4.1148  43.7  1.295
7  20822.5  0.498  0.1443  3.6652  34.7  1.634
8  16512.3  0.628  0.1285  3.2639  27.5  2.060
9  13087.4  0.792  0.1144  2.9058  21.8  2.598
10  10383.6  0.999  0.1019  2.5883  17.3  3.276
11  8226.5  1.260  0.0907  2.3038  13.7  4.132
12  6528.6  1.588  0.0808  2.0523  10.9  5.208
13  5184.0  2.003  0.0720  1.8288  8.6  6.569
14  4108.8  2.525  0.0641  1.6281  6.8  8.282
15  3260.4  3.184  0.0571  1.4503  5.43  10.44
16  2580.6  4.016  0.0508  1.2903  4.30  13.17
17  2052.1  5.064  0.0453  1.1506  3.42  16.60
18  1624.1  6.385  0.0403  1.0236  2.71  20.94[/FONT]
From the above we can see that two #12 AWG wires would be better than one #10 AWG wire as long as it was connected right.

Since there appears to be no way to paste a certain font family text, here is a more readable graphic table...
WireTable_20181113-1.gif
 
Last edited:

MrSoftware

Joined Oct 29, 2013
1,775
Amazon selling copper clad aluminum wire , so are you saying copper clad aluminum wire not good to hookup 200 watts solar panel?
mrel
I am saying that if it were my personal project and copper was an option, I would choose copper. Unless it's temporary or an experiment or something less important than your house. If you decide to use aluminum, be sure you understand the risks and how to use it properly to avoid problems. Amazon doesn't validate the wire that they sell, so don't assume that wire is good because it's for sale on Amazon (or bad because it isn't for sale on Amazon).
 

shortbus

Joined Sep 30, 2009
7,670
But yet almost all external mains wire is aluminum.:) the wires on the power poles down the street, the wires from the pole to the breaker panel in the house and the high tension wires from the power generators, all aluminum.

But MrSoftware is right, for electronics it is bad, can't be soldered.
 

ebeowulf17

Joined Aug 12, 2014
3,274
But yet almost all external mains wire is aluminum.:) the wires on the power poles down the street, the wires from the pole to the breaker panel in the house and the high tension wires from the power generators, all aluminum.

But MrSoftware is right, for electronics it is bad, can't be soldered.
"Almost all external mains wire" is also handled, manipulated, and terminated only by trained professionals who understand the risks, have a vested interest in getting it right, and have all the right tools and materials to do the job properly. I don't have any problem trusting the utility company to work with aluminum wire and connect it safely to copper wire as needed.

I don't trust random homeowners or handyman types, and I'm not even sure I trust all licensed electricians to get it right. They should know better, and there certainly are a lot of very smart, very hard working electricians out there... but I've also seen plenty of shoddy, careless, borderline illegal work done by licensed professionals who should know better. So, given the choice, I'd rather not ever see aluminum wiring in a house again.

It's not that it can't be done safely - of course it can - it's just that there's a significant risk that it won't be done safely. Furthermore, even if the initial installation is done properly, now every other person who ever works on it also needs to have a higher level of expertise and vigilance in order to keep things safe. It's just not worth the risk. Keep aluminium exclusively in the hands of the experts who can handle it, and keep it away from everyone else!
 

MrSoftware

Joined Oct 29, 2013
1,775
I did some quick reading after @nsaspook posted, and as he mentioned it appears a lot of the problems were in the branch circuits. To oversimplify what I read; part of the challenges with aluminum are that it (1) crushes easier than copper, (2) forms a non-conductive layer when it corrodes causing potential hot spots (fire potential), and (3) expands and contracts due to temperature changes more than copper. All this boils down to, as mentioned above, more care must be taken to use aluminum safely as compared to copper. This article is informative, and here is a quote from the opening paragraph:

......homes using aluminum wires manufactured before 1972 are 55 times more likely to have one or more electrical connections reach “fire hazard” condition than homes wired with copper.
 

KL7AJ

Joined Nov 4, 2008
2,225
Hi
(1) What is the different between speaker wire 10 gauge and power wire 10 gauge.
(2) Is 10 gauge copper clad aluminum wire good for solar panel use.
(3) A copper clad aluminum wire can you actually see the aluminum in the copper wire.
(4) when you don't have 10 gauge copper wire can you double two 12 gauge wire to make thicker gauge to equal 10 gauge wire.

mrel
About $600 a foot. :)
 

MrAl

Joined Jun 17, 2014
7,586
But yet almost all external mains wire is aluminum.:) the wires on the power poles down the street, the wires from the pole to the breaker panel in the house and the high tension wires from the power generators, all aluminum.

But MrSoftware is right, for electronics it is bad, can't be soldered.
Hi,

Very good point for sure.
I got some copper looking wire from a dollar store one day, could not solder it. What junk, i threw it out and i think i used one piece for rope :)
 

MrSoftware

Joined Oct 29, 2013
1,775
I acquired some wire that was silver and springy. You could bend it nearly 90 degrees, let go and it would snap right back (the stripped wire strands). No matter how tight you twisted it, it would spring back to untwisted the moment you let go. It also would not take solder at all. I have no idea what it was made from, but fortunately I've only run across it once. It was low power application (ran on 9v battery) so maybe it was metal coated plastic or something?
 
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