Multi Strand Vs. Solid Conductor Wire

Electrical wire is sold in two forms: solid and stranded.

Wire Gauges

Solid, single strand conductor copper wire.Solid, single strand conductor copper wire.
Solid wire has a single conductor and stranded wire is made up of many conductors. Most home wiring is done with solid wire but some applications call for stranded wire.

All wire for electrical use is sized by gauge. Typical home wiring is generally either 14 or 12 gauge. The smaller the number, the larger the wire diameter. Stranded wire has a slightly larger diameter than solid wire of the same gauge.

Stranded Wire Advantage

Stranded wire is more flexible and easier to pull through conduit. For this reason, large wire sizes are made of wire strands rather than a single wire. Most wires larger than 8-gauge are stranded wire and most electricians will use stranded wire if 10 gauge or larger has to be pulled through conduit.

Solid Wire Advantage

Solid wire is cheaper to manufacture. Standard wire sizes are still flexible enough to be used in home wiring, so most 12 and 14 gauge wiring is done with solid wire. Solid wire can also be used for push in type connections found on many receptacles and switches.

Tools

The slightly different sizes of like gauges of solid and stranded require different tools. Most wire strippers for stranded wire have red handles and solid wire strippers have yellow handles.

Practicality of Stranded Wire

Gauge 4/0 wire is about an inch in diameter and is always stranded copper or aluminum wire. Bending a single solid strand of this wire would be similar to bending an inch thick rod of copper and would require special tools.

About the Author

Michael Logan is a writer, editor and web page designer. His professional background includes electrical, computer and test engineering, real estate investment, network engineering and management, programming and remodeling company owner. Logan has been writing professionally since he was first published in "Test & Measurement World" in 1989.