Wire 201: Wiring Basics

Following up on Wire 101: Types of Wire, Del City is continuing to educate. In this installment, we will go over wiring basics and how they pertain to the electrical world.

Standard Wire Colors

Even if your wire tends to go awry, you don’t have to worry about losing track of all your progress. This chart represents the standard wire colors as recommended by ABYC standards in order to help you keep track of your wire!


What size wire do I need?

AWG stands for American Wire Gauge and is equivalent to simply saying “Gauge” or “GA” in the United States. Del City carries wire as small as 20ga for primary wire all the way up to 4/0 for booster cable used on batteries. The gauge is measured on the amount/size of the wire strands inside the jacket. Some wires have thicker insulation that will result in a larger outside diameter.

Anyone working in the electrical industry should know when each size of wire should be used, as well as for what applications. The two charts below are to help you visualize the wires and their sizes.


What does the insulation of a wire do?

As mentioned before, wires come in a variety of sizes. This thicker insulation results in a larger wire. Before going into detail about the purpose of insulation, it is important to know how these wires are marked. This is not as simple as color coding the insulation. Rather, each electrical wire is stamped with a code and numbering. These codes indicate both the type of insulation as well as performance characteristics. If the cable contains multiple wires, the stamp will be found on the outer surface of the cable.

It is rare to see wire without some kind of insulation. The purpose of the insulation is both practicality and safety. Its main job is to prevent accidental contact with other conductors. If these were to interact, results such as an electrical fire could ensue. The safety of both the location as well as the person involved with the electrical job is increased. The material that insulates the cable will be resistant to electric current to minimize any kind of risk.

Why is some wire more flexible than others?

Wire flexibility is influenced by the wire strand size. Wire strand size has the largest impact on overall wire flexibility. As individual wire strand size decreases, wire flexibility increases. Having more small wire will give you a more flexible wire.

Flexibility van be important for some wiring jobs if stuck in small spaces of difficult to maneuver applications.

Have more questions? Don’t hesitate to reach out to our Technical Support at 1.800.654.4757 and they will be happy to help you out! Also check out our other posts in this series, Wire 101 and A Guide to Cross-Link Wire to learn even more!

Posted in Wire & Cable.