Multi-Strand Wire – The Ultimate Guide to How to Choose a High-Quality Product

Wires are everywhere, whether it’s a power light or a TV. Yes, you need to use wires whether you are connecting devices or connecting boards. But do you know that the cable types for different applications will change? Do you know the difference between single and multiple strands? Do you see the welding technology used for multi-strand cables?
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In this guide, we will provide you with a comprehensive course on multi-strand cables and related aspects so that you can become an expert immediately!

 CHAPTER 1: What is Multi-Strand Wire 

1.1. Multi-Strand Wire Meaning

Multi-strand wires come with a bunch of small wires bunched together to form one thick conductor. Multi-strand wires are more malleable than single strand wires with the same cross-sectional surface. The multi-stranded wires come handy when you need a higher resistance to metal fatigue.

Multi-strand wires are used when the rigid nature of single strand wires are not suitable, such as for circuit boards.

Single strand wires are prone to power loss due to skin effect, where the current travels on the outer surfaces of the wire. Multi-strand wires can reduce the skin effect, as the surface area of all the strands is more significant than single strand wires. It may not be true in case of ordinary stranded wires where the strands are twisted together to form a single core.

Multi-strand wires also come with higher resistance because the cross-section is not made entirely with copper. There are also air gaps between the strands which contribute to the high resistance.

1.2 Multi-Strand Wire Sizes

Multi-Strand wires can come in different sizes to suit various applications. American Wire Gauge or AWG is taken as the standard and represents the wire diameter. The diameter is calculated based on the conductor with the insulation removed.

A multi-strand wire has an overall larger diameter than a single strand wire of the same current capacity and electrical resistance because of the gaps between the different strands.

The thickness of the diameter is more in lower AWG wires, and they keep on decreasing as the number goes up. For example, AWG 12 or 14 is used for general household wiring while AWG 22, 24 or 26 is applicable for telephone wiring.

1.3 Multi-Strand Wire Specification

Multi-strand wires come with similar specifications like standard wires. The wires have multiple strands which are bunched together to form a single core.

The strands can be made of different materials such as copper or aluminum. They are covered by outer insulation made of plastic, rubber or other items such as PVC. Sometimes, the individual strands of the wire are provided with separate insulation which goes a long way to reduce the proximity effect.

1.4 Multi-Strand Wire Current Capacity

The current carrying capacity of wires represents the amperage the conductor can carry before the core or the insulation melts. The heat produced by an electrical current in the conductor determines the amount of electricity it can carry.

The current capacity depends on some factors such as the size of the conductor, the ambient temperature, the type of conductor insulation and the number of strands. The installation conditions will also affect the current capacity of the multi-strand wire.

A 6 AWG multi-strand wire with 7 to 24 cores will have a current capacity of 38 amps. A 10 AWG multi-strand wire with 25 to 42 cores will have a current capacity of 18 amps. The current capacity of 24 AWG multi-strand wire with 7 to 24 cores will be 1.4 amps.

Both single strand and multi-strand wires are used for both commercial and residential purposes. We will take a look at the differences between the two types of wires in the next chapter.

 CHAPTER 2: Multi-Strand Wire Vs. Single Strand Wire

 You have to make some crucial considerations when choosing a wire for any application. A load of amperage and application will determine the correct gauge of wire you will need. The type of metal used in the wire is also important and will need consideration.
Apart from selecting between copper or aluminum wire, you also have to choose between single strand wires and multi-strand wires. Both the wires can be used for residential and commercial applications, but each comes with its unique bunch of advantages and disadvantages. It would help if you had an idea about the differences to make the correct choice. First, we will take a look at single strand wire as you already know what a multi-strand wire is.

2.1 Single Strand Wire Definition

Single strand wire is also known as solid core wire and comes with a single piece of metal wire. The wire is rigid and stable and used for conditions where durability is an essential factor. The wire comes with a single conductor and suitable for outdoor uses and rugged applications.

Single strand wires are commonly used for mounting CCTVs or outdoor lights where the wire is exposed to external weather conditions and corrosive elements.

Now we will explore the differences between the two types of wires.

2.2 Differences between Single Stand Wire and Multi-Strand Wire

You will find many differences between the two types of wires. Single Strand wires are rigid and used for applications where movement is minimum.

Multi-strand wire, on the other hand, come with a bunch of conductors or wires put together inside a rubber or plastic insulation. For this reason, multi-strand wires are suitable for complex application such as in a circuit board and electronic device. Multi-strand wires are more flexible and can withstand the twisting and bending that needs to be performed while connecting the wires.

The single strand wire has a few advantages- it is durable, cheap and straightforward. The wire comes with only a single core and is very easy to manufacture. It is also resistant to damage and can last for a good many years.

A multi-strand wire is ideal for applications which involve a high level of movements, such as in vehicles and robotics. You can also use them for situations where you want to shape them into complex shapes, such as in the case of circuit boards and electronics. Single strand wire is unsuitable for such applications as they don’t have the malleability and strength to withstand motion and reshaping.

Multi-strand wires are perfect for the conditions which require reshaping and flexibility. However, they are prone to electronic interference as the air pockets between the strands spike up the skin effect due to the magnetic field acting on the surface of the wire.

Multi-strand wires have a larger surface area, and as a result, any signal or current passing through it experiences less resistance.

Single strands are more accessible to weld because only one core can handle. Multi-strand wires can be a bit challenging to solder as you have to secure all the smaller strands. For this reason, the strands are tinned before they are soldered. You can also put the strands in crimps and connect it to a crimp connector.

Single strand wires are simple to make and come at cheap rates. Multi-strand wires require a high level of stranding and extrusion, which results in the increased cost.

If you are choosing the wires based on cost, then you also need to consider the long-term durability factor. A single strand wire will last for many years to come, but they may crack or rupture if exposed to motion or bending due to the metal fatigue. In that case, multi-strand lines are more suitable,because they can run without the risk of metal fatigue.

As already discussed the difference between single and multicore. Now we will find out how you can adequately solder multi-strand wires.

 CHAPTER 3: The Correct Way to Solder Multi-Strand Wire

 A multi-strand wire is flexible and contains multiple strands of wires. It can be difficult to solder them properly if you don’t use the proper technique. We will tell you how you can adequately solder multi-strand wires first by carrying out a tinning process if that is necessary.

3.1 Things You Will Need

You will only need a soldering iron and some resin-core solder for the process. Of course, keep a wet sponge and wire stripper to help you out.

3.2 How to Solder Multi-Strand Wire

The tinning process helps you place molten solder on the strands of a multi-strand wire so that you find it easy to solder it to other wire or terminals. The tinning helps the strands to hold together so that you can effectively make an electric connection.  Do remember that we are not going to use any actual tin in the wires. We will only use the solder that fills the gap between the strands to form a solid core. You can quickly move or bent it and connect it to other terminals. The process removes any risks of losing connection, and no wires stick out from the end of the terminal screw. We will be using electrical application rosin-core solder which comes with flux in the solder core. It would help if you prevented using any acid based solder which can damage the wire. Let’s check out the tinning process below:

Multi-Strand Wire Tinning Process

1. The tinning process has to be carried out on the bare wire. Use the wire stripper to strip the wire to about 3/4 inch to 1 inch by cutting the insulation. The length of the wire is ideal for connecting to screws or terminals. 2. Connect the soldering iron to a power outlet and allow it to heat up. 3. The soldering iron tip should be free from oxidation which takes place while it heats up. Just wipe the tip of the iron on a wet sponge to make it clean. 4. Now unfold the solder from its spool in a straight line. You can use heat-resistant holders to hold the solder for convenience. 5. Take the tip of the solder and place it on the tip of the soldering iron. Wait for the solder to melt and accumulate on the solder iron tip. 6. Now place the solder iron tip on the bottom part of the wire. Work your way around the wire ends and apply molten solder. Continue the process until you achieve a uniform coat of solder on the wire making it a single core. 7. Let the solder solidify and inspect the wire. The solder should be applied in a thin coat around the wire without forming any lump or uneven surface which results in electrical resistance. We have completed tinning of our multi-strand wire. Now we will get along with the actual process of soldering the wire to other surfaces.

Multi-Strand Wire Soldering Process

1. Plug in the soldering iron and wait for it to reach its operational temperature. 2. If you haven’t tinned the wire, you will need to twist them to a single formation. Also, you may need to strip the wire down a bit to get access to the strands. Make sure that the wire surface is free from dust or other contaminants. Use sandpaper or knife to clean the wire surface. 3. You have to carry out the same tinning process if you haven’t done it earlier. Use the same method to tin the other wire which will be soldered to the multi-strand wire. Let it cool for the solder to solidify. 4. Now apply the soldering iron tip to the tinned solder on the multi-strand wire. It will melt the solder after which you need to place the other wire on top of it. Apply another beautiful coat of solder on the wires so that they are fused. 5. Let the surface of the wires to cool down. The solder will become solid joining the two wires together. You can slightly pull the cord to make sure they have the proper welding. Voila! Your work is now complete. Now let’s go over a few tips to keep in mind.

3.3 Tips and Warnings

• Be sure to clean the wire to remove any contaminants before you solder it.  • The soldering process should be carried out as quickly as possible to reduce the chances of damage to the insulation. Also, prevent overheating the wire. • Don’t breathe the fumes produced by the solder. They can be poisonous in nature.  • The soldering iron can heat up to 400 degrees Celsius and cause severe burns. Be sure to operate it away from the body and avoid contact with skin. • Place the soldering iron on heat-resistant surfaces. Don’t keep anything flammable nearby.  • We have covered how you can solder a multi-strand wire properly and the precautions to take. Now comes the turn to check out the gauge chart of multi-strand wires.

 CHAPTER 4: Multi-Strand Wire Gauge Chart

 The gauge rating denotes the sizes of multi-strand wire. Here is a table of standard measurement:

Gauge      No Inches      Millimeters      1             0.2893                 7.348      2             0.2576                 6.544      3             0.2294                 5.827      4             0.2043                 5.189      5             0.1819                  4.621      6             0.1620                 4.115      7             0.1443                 3.665      8             0.1285                 3.264      9             0.1144                 2.906     10            0.1019                 2.588      11            0.09074             2.305      12            0.08081             2.053      13            0.07196              1.828      14            0.06408             1.628      15            0.05707              1.450      16            0.05082             1.291      17            0.04526              1.149      18            0.04030             1.024      19            0.03589              0.9116      20            0.03196              0.8118      21            0.02846              0.7229      22            0.02535              0.6438      23            0.02257              0.5733      24            0.02010              0.5106      25            0.01790               0.4547      26            0.01594               0.4049

You must be aware of the different sizes of multi-strand wires. In the next chapter, we will cover the uses of the wire.

 CHAPTER 5: Multi-Strand Wire Uses

 Multi-strand wires are used in situations where you need to bend and move the wire frequently. They are used in circuit boards of electronic devices and PCBs where the wire is bent for connection. You will also find their use in power cords for different appliances, extension cords and musical instrument cables.

Multi-strand wires are also used in computers and peripherals such as mouse and keyboards. Various machines like mining equipment with moving parts use multi-strand wires for their flexibility. You will also find multi-strand wires in different vehicles and engine compartments where malleability is the priority.

You have learned many new things about multi-strand wires till now. We will cover the prices of this type of wire so that you can make an informed decision while purchasing. 

 CHAPTER 6: Multi-Strand Wire Prices

 The price of multi-strand wires depends on many factors. Different manufacturers charge different prices for their products, and it also varies according to the core material, the type of insulation, size and length of wire and so on.

To give you an idea, 100 meters of multi-strand wire can cost you anything from $20 to $25. If you want to buy a 500 ft roll, be ready to spend around $100. It all depends on your need though, so it is essential that you take into account the job you need to get done first.

 Conclusion

 Multi-strand wires are perfect for an application which encounters a great deal of movement or bending and twisting. You can use them for commercial and residential applications where flexibility is required. You also know how to solder them properly so that an active electrical connection is possible.

If you want to purchase high-quality multi-strand cables, you can get in touch with our team. We can manufacture the perfect type of wire you need matching your size requirement and other specifications.

Hey, I am John, General manager of Cloom and OurPCB.

I am a responsible, intelligent and experienced business professional with an extensive background in the electronics industry.

Reach me at sales@wiringo.com to get a quote for your projects.

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