What is AWG Wire and How is it Used
American wire gauge (AWG) is a standardized wire gauge system that provides for the measurement of wires based on logarithmic steps. In general, the American wire gauge system is used for measuring the diameters of electrically conductive wiring that is solid, round, and nonferrous. The American wire gauge system may also be known as Brown & Sharpe Gage, and it has served as the current United States standard method of measuring cross sections of wire for electrical resistance since 1857. In this blog, we will discuss the American wire gauge system and how measurements are made, as well as the various types of conductive wiring that are categorized by it.
As the American wire gauge measurement system is based in logarithms, the wiring size is calculated using a formula, which is Dn = 0.005 x 92((36-n)/39). Nevertheless, the 38 most common sizes may be listed on a table for ease of reference. This table contains the AWG number, diameter, area, resistance, max current, and max frequency of each type. This table also covers every wire from the smallest (40) to the largest (0000). In general, the larger the AWG wire number, the smaller the diameter of the conducting wire. The table also has a general rule, as the wire diameter doubles for every 6 decreases in gauge. Meanwhile, the cross sectional of the wire doubles for every 3 decreases in gauge.
With the various measurements of American wire gauge, one of the most important effects of the cross section of conductive wires is their resistance. In general, the larger the size of the conductor, the less resistance it will feature. Wires may contain various conductive materials, such as copper, aluminum, or silver, and it is important to note that these materials may feature different resistances. As copper is the most common conducting material used for wiring applications, AWG tables will most often display their info and standards based on measurements of copper wiring with plastic insulation. On a standard American wire gauge measurement table, 0000 is the largest wire size with a diameter of .46” and a resistance of .1608 mΩ/m. Meanwhile, the smallest wire size is 40 with a diameter of .00314” and a resistance of 3441 mΩ/m. From this, we can see how there is a drastic difference in resistance per length of wire from the largest diameter wire to the smallest.
The American wire gauge system may also be used to measure stranded wire types as well. Stranded wire refers to a bundle or wrap of small wires that combine together to serve as a bigger conductor. As compared to solid wire, stranded wire may feature the same cross sectional area but have much more flexibility for certain applications. The cross section of stranded wire is measured by adding each cross section of an individual strand, sans the gaps. As gaps can take up much of the room within a wire bundle, a larger wire bundle may often be required to have the same wire cross sectional length as a smaller solid wire. For stranded wires, the American wire gauge system takes into account the AWG size, number of strands, and the AWG size of individual strands. Also, the formula and general rules of standard wires applies to stranded wires as well.
In general, American wire gauge measurements benefit a great amount of applications including audio interconnects, serial digital video, speaker systems, avionics, and other electronics and electronic systems. Many electronics require various amounts of powering and resistance to optimally function and avoid faults. Because of this, choosing the right conducting wire with the correct resistance can be critical to providing optimal powering. Typically, the wiring within a household is either AWG wire number 12 or 14. Meanwhile, devices such as telephones may feature AWG wire numbers 22, 24, or 26 for their resistance values. While having the exact amount of resistance and wires may not make the biggest difference for a smaller electronic, it is very important when choosing for larger scale applications, such as for the transferring of power from a power plant to a city.
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