Understanding Wire Types
There are many types of electrical wire. Understanding which
type is best for your application can be confusing. It is important to make the
proper selection. Using the wrong type of wire can lead to failures and fires.
For this article, we will focus on the wire typically used in automotive,
boat, RV, and motorcycle applications. Never use wire intended for household
use in vehicles, it is not designed to handle the heat, vibration, and chemical exposure.
BEWARE of wire sold on discount sites, or any wire sold at too-good-to-be-true prices. Often this cheap wire is actually aluminum with a thin copper coating. Aluminum is only 60% as conductive as copper, so you'd have to use a much larger gauge to carry the same load. We also often see wire labeled as one guage thicker than it actually is, or has stiff/brittle insulation, or is contructed with fewer strands. For the record, Wiring Depot wire is manufactured in the USA and is constructed of 100% copper. We guarantee it to be true to spec/gauge and adhere to industry SAE standards - for instance our primary wire is ROHS compliant and made to SAE J1128 specifications.
1.“GPT” or “Primary” Wire
This is the most common wire you find at
auto stores. As its name implies, it is a good general purpose automotive wire.
It features a multi stranded core and flexible insulation making it ideal for
pulling through tight spaces. It is usually rated to 80ºC (176ºF). Although some is also
rated to 105ºC (221ºF). It is resistant to oil, chemicals and acids.
See our selection of Primary Wire HERE
2.“1015” “Hook-Up” or “Motor” Wire
The biggest difference between GPT
and Motor wire is that motor wire features finer strands of wire. This allows
it to handle higher voltages.
Motor wire is rated at 600 Volts with
a temperature rating of 105ºC (221ºF). It is resistant to grease, oil, acids,
water, solvents, fungus.
Although most commonly used as
internal wiring in appliances and HVAC equipment, motor wire is finding
increasing use in automotive applications.
See our selection of Motor Wire HERE
3. SXL Wire
SXL Wire features a cross linked
polyethylene jacket that can withstand higher heat, abrasion, and aging better than
GPT wire. It is often the preferred choice in higher stress applications like
race or industrial use vehicles. If you are looking for extra durability, this
is a good choice.
GXL and TXL wire feature the same
type of insulation but thinner walls to make it easier to pull through tight
See our selection of SXL Wire HERE
Speaker wire is a paired stranded
wire intended for audio applications. As the name implies it is meant to carry the 'sound' from a stereo receiver to the speakers. It is intended for low voltage use and
should never be used to carry load. Speakers can run in 'reverse' (out of phase) but they will sound terrible - so it is important that the + and - terminals be connected correctly.
See our selection of Speaker Wire HERE
5. Battery Cable
Battery cable is typically used to connect
the battery to the car’s electrical system (typically at the starter) and
ground. It is larger gauge, heavier wire. Battery cables are most susceptible
to corrosion, and can often be corroded inside the cable where it can’t be
seen. If you are having starting issues, check your battery cables carefully.
See our selection of Battery Cable HERE
6. Trailer Wire
Trailer wire is typically GPT or Primary wire that is colored and configured for common trailer applications. Most trailers use a common coloring system that uses Green, Yellow, Brown, and White for the various lighting functions. Purchasing 'Trailer' Wire makes a trailer re-wiring or repair project simpler. It also helps in future diagnosis of problems.
See our selection of Trailer Wire HERE