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Is all power wire the same?

Discussion in 'Audio' started by RingMaster4x4, Aug 4, 2003.

  1. RingMaster4x4

    RingMaster4x4 1/2 ton status Premium Member

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    Is there a different quality between brands or all they pretty much the same? If there is a difference what are good brands and what should I look for? /forums/images/graemlins/ears.gif /forums/images/graemlins/thinking.gif
    Thanks,
    Todd
     
  2. Greg72

    Greg72 "Might As Well..." Staff Member Super Moderator

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    There is no doubt that companies like Monster Cable, etc have made a small fortune convincing people that their wire is inherently "better" than what you can find elsewhere.

    My take is that it comes down to the AWG (American Wire Gauge) and material (usually high-quality copper conductor) and number of strands of wire in the bundle.

    The AWG is easiest, it's a standard way to specify the safe sizing of wire based on current draw. Every 4 AWG wire will need to be the same for that reason.

    Wire composition (high-purity copper vs. ???) will determine how well the current will flow. Copper is a nice conductor....not as good as pure gold wiring, but certainly cheaper!! /forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

    Wire strand count may not have much to do with overall safety, etc but you certainly wouldn't want to use solid-core wire in a stereo install (think house wiring!) it will never bend or lay down the way you want. Wires with high strand counts tend to be REALLY flexible, and that can help if you need to snake the wire around all over the place.
     
  3. rampage

    rampage 1/2 ton status

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    Power wire (12volt) or speaker wire? If you're asking about power wire then any stranded heavy gauge wire will work for a stereo. I find it hard to believe that any one could tell the difference as far as audio is concerned. As long as it doesn't have a lot of resistance/ft. you're okay. Now if you mean speaker wire then that's a different story. Depending on the quality of your system probably won't hear a difference in you car with the road noise. Again, as long as the ohms/ft. is not outragously high and the insulation is good quality then I personally wouldn't worry about it. High power system obviously need heavy gauge, fine stranded wire. Again, with the road noise you won't hear a difference and power loss is very minimal. If this was for a high end home stereo then it's a different story.
     
  4. rampage

    rampage 1/2 ton status

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    You're just a tad faster on the draw aren't you? /forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif
     
  5. RingMaster4x4

    RingMaster4x4 1/2 ton status Premium Member

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    Thanks Guys! That was waht I was looking for. /forums/images/graemlins/thumb.gif
     
  6. rebelk5frk

    rebelk5frk 1/2 ton status

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    [ QUOTE ]
    Wire strand count may not have much to do with overall safety, etc but you certainly wouldn't want to use solid-core wire in a stereo install (think house wiring!) it will never bend or lay down the way you want. Wires with high strand counts tend to be REALLY flexible, and that can help if you need to snake the wire around all over the place.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Well technically solid cable for the power wire is best. Not at all "user friendly" in a vehicle but solid or even thicker strands will conduct and flow more current with less voltage drop than smaller/stranded cables. The only benefit to having high strand counts is for flexability. If you don't need to twist it all over the place then don't bother looking for high stranded cable.

    I've found for running long power wires from the engine to the rear of our type of vehicles that plain old welding cable provides the best bang for the buck /forums/images/graemlins/thumb.gif You can get 1/0 guage cables for 1/2-1/4 the cost of the fancy brand name cables of equal size.
     
  7. 3car

    3car 1/2 ton status

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    i was under the impression that the higher the strand count was, the higher the current capacity the wire would have.makes sense to me,because the smaller the strands are,the more wire will fit within the same guage,there by running cooler.
     
  8. Greg72

    Greg72 "Might As Well..." Staff Member Super Moderator

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    [ QUOTE ]
    i was under the impression that the higher the strand count was, the higher the current capacity the wire would have.makes sense to me,because the smaller the strands are,the more wire will fit within the same guage,there by running cooler.

    [/ QUOTE ]


    If you search the net, there is some really "far out" stuff you can read regarding the physics of electron flow, and how electrons travel more easily on the outer "skin" of the wire, not through the middle of it. By that logic, many small strands would give a greater surface area for the electrons to "do their thing".....

    To be honest, I've never met ANYONE who could listen to a stereo and tell me if the power wire was stranded or solid. /forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif
     
  9. rebelk5frk

    rebelk5frk 1/2 ton status

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    [ QUOTE ]
    smaller the strands are,the more wire will fit within the same guage

    [/ QUOTE ]
    Small strands can't equal a solid strand of the same guage. With strands you have small amounts of free space in the given area. The smaller the strands, the closer you get to the volume of a solid conductor though.

    Solid cable is best for DC current because DC flows though out the whole conductor. AC is a different story though. The higher in frequency the AC current is the less it penetrates the conductor so stranded wire is better because it provides more surface area for the current to flow through.

    Imagine a water pipe pointing up and down.
    DC is sort of like water flowing in the pipe.
    AC is more like water dripping down the outside of the pipe.
     
  10. rebelk5frk

    rebelk5frk 1/2 ton status

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    [ QUOTE ]
    If you search the net, there is some really "far out" stuff you can read regarding the physics of electron flow, and how electrons travel more easily on the outer "skin" of the wire, not through the middle of it.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Called "Skin effect" /forums/images/graemlins/thumb.gif
    It only applies to AC current though. At audio frequencies it isn't very noticable at all. At RF frequencies it can become very noticable the higher you go.
     
  11. rampage

    rampage 1/2 ton status

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    Greg is 100% correct. Electrons flow on the surface of a conductor (physics 101) regardless of DC or AC. For the same gauge wire a stranded wire will conduct more current than a solid wire. If a solid conductor carried more current than wouldn't welding cable and battery cables be made of solid wire???
    People use the water pipe analogy to visualize how electricty flows but in reality that's not how it works.
     
  12. 3car

    3car 1/2 ton status

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    can you imagine trying to weld with solid cable???that would be fun.
     
  13. rampage

    rampage 1/2 ton status

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    [ QUOTE ]
    To be honest, I've never met ANYONE who could listen to a stereo and tell me if the power wire was stranded or solid.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Either have I, but there are probably audiophiles out there that claim they can. Of course they have multi-thousand dollar systems with speakers that cost more than 100k. I was just covering my a$$ with that statement in the off chance that someone claimed they could. /forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif But come to think of it, I'm sure everyone hear spend all their money on their truck and couldn't afford such a system. /forums/images/graemlins/crazy.gif
     
  14. rebelk5frk

    rebelk5frk 1/2 ton status

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    [ QUOTE ]
    Electrons flow on the surface of a conductor (physics 101) regardless of DC or AC.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Uh no they don't....

    Skin effect: Current density, or the density of electrons flowing in a conductor, is uniform across the cross-section of the conductor in DC circuits. But as the frequency of the current increases, the flowing electrons tend to concentrate at the outer surface of the conductor. At 60 Hz, more than 63% of the electrons travel within the outer 1 cm of an aluminum conductor and within the outer .85 cm of a copper conductor. This phenomenon, known as skin effect, reduces the effective cross-section of a conductor, and is a reason for using hollow conductors for some high-ampacity bus work. It's more pronounced at higher frequencies, so harmonic currents can lead to extreme heating of conductors. Where a significant harmonic content is expected, paralleling several smaller conductors is preferred to using one large conductor.

    Ya' might want to check them books again. /forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif

    [ QUOTE ]
    If a solid conductor carried more current than wouldn't welding cable and battery cables be made of solid wire???

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Because the current carrying difference is minimal compared to the disadvantages of using solid wire....That's why.

    My point in the first place was one doesn't have to worry about super fine stranded cable that is normally much more expensive than larger stranded cable. Sorry for explaining the reasons. /forums/images/graemlins/rolleyes.gif
     
  15. Greg72

    Greg72 "Might As Well..." Staff Member Super Moderator

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    Hey guys.......

    Remember that "far out" stuff I said you could find on the net?




    ......it's HERE now. /forums/images/graemlins/rotfl.gif /forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif /forums/images/graemlins/rotfl.gif



    BTW -> I at least hope that the topic of "skin effect" wasn't covered in Physics 101, I would at least have hoped it was more of a second year topic......maybe Physics 201???

    LOL!
     
  16. Triaged

    Triaged 1/2 ton status

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    Actually that was covered in Phy133
     
  17. rampage

    rampage 1/2 ton status

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    [ QUOTE ]
    Ya' might want to check them books again.


    [/ QUOTE ]
    You made me go to the attic and unearth my books. I had to break out the air compressor to blow off the 10 yrs of dust on them. /forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif


    [ QUOTE ]


    Quote:
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Electrons flow on the surface of a conductor (physics 101) regardless of DC or AC.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    [/ QUOTE ]

    Who was the dork that said that? /forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif
    And yep it was actually physics 201. /forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif

    According to Gauss' Law the when there is no net motion of charge within a conductor the electric field is 0 everywhere inside the conductor and the excess charge is on the surface.
    Obviously any active circuit has a net motion of charge so we aren't dealing with Gauss' Law.

    Current density: Analagous to water flow in a pipe. Sort of, water flows easier at the center because of less resistance. Current doesn't behave the same, it flows easier at the outer edges of the conductor.

    In the future please don't force me break out the books again and prove myself wrong. /forums/images/graemlins/deal.gif

    Permission to return to my idealistic, sheltered life. /forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif
     
  18. Greg72

    Greg72 "Might As Well..." Staff Member Super Moderator

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    [ QUOTE ]
    [ QUOTE ]
    Ya' might want to check them books again.


    [/ QUOTE ]
    You made me go to the attic and unearth my books. I had to break out the air compressor to blow off the 10 yrs of dust on them. /forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif


    [ QUOTE ]


    Quote:
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Electrons flow on the surface of a conductor (physics 101) regardless of DC or AC.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    [/ QUOTE ]

    Who was the dork that said that? /forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif
    And yep it was actually physics 201. /forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif

    According to Gauss' Law the when there is no net motion of charge within a conductor the electric field is 0 everywhere inside the conductor and the excess charge is on the surface.
    Obviously any active circuit has a net motion of charge so we aren't dealing with Gauss' Law.

    Current density: Analagous to water flow in a pipe. Sort of, water flows easier at the center because of less resistance. Current doesn't behave the same, it flows easier at the outer edges of the conductor.

    In the future please don't force me break out the books again and prove myself wrong. /forums/images/graemlins/deal.gif

    Permission to return to my idealistic, sheltered life. /forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif


    [/ QUOTE ]

    This post (and apparent eating-of-crow) is an example of another Physics term.....

    "THICK skin effect"!!!

    /forums/images/graemlins/thumb.gif /forums/images/graemlins/rotfl.gif /forums/images/graemlins/thumb.gif
     
  19. Greg72

    Greg72 "Might As Well..." Staff Member Super Moderator

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    [ QUOTE ]
    [ QUOTE ]
    Ya' might want to check them books again.


    [/ QUOTE ]
    You made me go to the attic and unearth my books. I had to break out the air compressor to blow off the 10 yrs of dust on them. /forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif


    [ QUOTE ]


    Quote:
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Electrons flow on the surface of a conductor (physics 101) regardless of DC or AC.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    [/ QUOTE ]

    Who was the dork that said that? /forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif
    And yep it was actually physics 201. /forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif

    According to Gauss' Law the when there is no net motion of charge within a conductor the electric field is 0 everywhere inside the conductor and the excess charge is on the surface.
    Obviously any active circuit has a net motion of charge so we aren't dealing with Gauss' Law.

    Current density: Analagous to water flow in a pipe. Sort of, water flows easier at the center because of less resistance. Current doesn't behave the same, it flows easier at the outer edges of the conductor.

    In the future please don't force me break out the books again and prove myself wrong. /forums/images/graemlins/deal.gif

    Permission to return to my idealistic, sheltered life. /forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif


    [/ QUOTE ]

    This post (and apparent eating-of-crow) is an example of another Physics term.....

    "THICK skin effect"!!!

    /forums/images/graemlins/thumb.gif /forums/images/graemlins/rotfl.gif /forums/images/graemlins/thumb.gif



    "It takes a big man to admit when he's wrong...and it takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man..." Jack Handy - SNL "Deep Thoughts"
     
  20. rampage

    rampage 1/2 ton status

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    [ QUOTE ]
    This post (and apparent eating-of-crow) is an example of another Physics term.....

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Thanks, but I'm done with physics /forums/images/graemlins/eek.gif

    FOR SALE: 2 physics books ... CHEAP! Free shipping. /forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif
     

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