Choosing the Right Electrical Wire for Your Install

So much of our world runs on electricity. What would we do without it? The types of electrical wire vary based on what the end application is. In our world at Del City, it’s all about automotive electrical wire. However, there are many types of electrical wire that fall into the realm of automotive electrical wire. Much of this depends on, again, the application and the environment.


In the past I would often get questions about the different types of electric wire and finding the right fit for a particular application. While all applications are different, there are some basic things to know about electrical wire when deciding which wire is the best for your application.

Stranded vs Solid

Solid wiring is most commonly used for construction and building. It can also be used in electronics when you get down to the really small gauge sizes.

Stranded wire, on the other hand, is what is most commonly found in automotive applications, and is what Del City carries. Stranded options include 8 gauge wire, 10 gauge wire, 12 gauge wire, 14 gauge wire, 16 gauge wire, 18 gauge wire, and 20 gauge wire. Anything larger than 8 gauge is actually considered cable. Stranded wire offerings include primary wire, parallel wire, cross-link wire, marine wire, speaker wire, and RVI hook-up wire. The smallest wire offered here is 20 gauge wire, and comes in primary wire. Primary wire, one of the most common types of stranded wire, is also available in 18 gauge wire, 16 gauge wire, 14 gauge wire, 12 gauge wire, 10 gauge wire, and 8 gauge wire. The other types of stranded wire offered begin with 18 gauge and go up to 8 gauge, depending on the type.

Voltage & Ampacity

Considering voltage is critical when choosing electrical wire, and what the circuit is operating will determine the voltage required. Ampacity required determines on the size of the wire and the run. Take a look at this wire gauge chart below for a closer look at how voltage and ampacity relate in 12V systems.



Types of insulation vary by the type of electrical wire. Often times insulation will vary to alter performance in certain environmental conditions, or to make the wire easier to work with. The differences in wire insulation come from variations of polymer structures.

Most of the stranded wire offering at Del City has PVC insulation, however, there are others like the cross-link wire with Cross-Linked Polyethylene and thermoplastic. There are also three types of cross-link wire with varying insulation thickness.

Once you’ve determined the voltage, ampacity, and insulation for your wire, it’s time to consider other things such as temperature ratings and certifications. Our Advanced Electrical Wire Chart walks through many of these more in depth specifications to help guide you.

Posted in How To, Wire & Cable.