American Wire Gauge (AWG)
What is American Wire Gauge (AWG)?
American Wire Gauge (AWG, sometimes called the Brown & Sharpe wire gauge) is the standardized wire gauge system used to measure the size of electric conducting wire in the United States since 1857. AWG refers to wire made with a solid metal core. It is represented as a simple number that is calculated by finding the radius of the wire, squaring that number, and multiplying it by pi (AWG = πr²). The smaller the number is, the thicker the cable will be.
Stranded wire is also commonly referred to using AWG, but it a little more complex. Because standard cables are made using multiple wires instead of a single solid core, they can be given multiple numbers. For example, a cable called “24 AWG (7x32)” means that the overall outer diameter is 24 AWG but on the inside, the cable has seven 32 AWG wires.
Common Wire Gauges
Certain types of cables will always be the same AWG. For example, RG58 cable is always made as a 20 AWG cable regardless of manufacturer. Coax cables tend to be the same size across the board with different connectors made for the different kinds of cables. There are a few exceptions, such as cables with Quad Shielding being a little thicker and needing special connectors, but these are few and far between.
On the other side of that, there are some cables that come in different variants and as a result, can have different AWGs. Ethernet cable is a prime example for this. Standard ethernet cable is typically 23 or 24 AWG from most manufacturers. However, you also have versions like
Ethernet is one of the most common types of cables, used to connect devices like computers and routers to the Internet. The end of an ethernet cable, an RJ45 connector, looks similar to the end of a phone cable, an RJ12, but bigger. While phone cables have four to six wires on the inside, ethernet cables use eight. Ethernet cables come in both solid and stranded variants.
There are a few different variations of ethernet, the foremost being the cable category. This type of cable is abbreviated as “Cat#”, with higher numbers being newer versions of ethernet capable of faster signal speeds. These categories are defined by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE).
Cat5e is an upgraded version of the original Cat5 cable and the current standard version of ethernet. It is capable of data speeds up to 1 Gbps (gigabyte per second) with a bandwidth of 350 MHz (MegaHertz).
Cat6 is the next step up and will become the new standard once Cat5e is inevitably phased out. These can support speeds up to 10 Gbps, ten times faster than Cat5e, with bandwidth of 550 MHz. Currently, this level of speed is overkill for at-home use. They are more common in facilities setting up basic networks, like small businesses or schools.
Cat6a (“a” meaning “augmented”) have the same 10 Gbps maximum speed as Cat6 but better overall performance, including a
Some types of cables can be either solid or stranded. These terms both refer to the metal core at the center of the cable and are options for ethernet cables as well as some coax cables. Solid cables are made from solid metal while stranded cables are made of many hair-thin strands that are woven together. Each version has a number of advantages and disadvantages over the other.
Solid cables have a core made from a single metal line, typically copper or copper-clad steel. It is the more common of than stranded, being less costly. The single, thick strand of metal is more resistant to damage such as corrosion and makes the cables easy to manufacture. This also renders them more compact, allowing solid cables to be thinner than their stranded counterparts. Despite being thinner, the solid core makes solid cables less flexible than stranded equivalents. If the cable is bent or moved frequently the wear and tear will eventually cause damage. While solid cables are great for applications like in-wall wiring, this limitation makes them the weaker choice for areas that require tight turns.
Stranded cables are made using a collection of thin wires that are bound together to function as a single line. While more expensive to make, stranded cables are ideal for cramped spaces and places where the cable is moved frequently, such as on vibrating machinery. Stranded cables also having higher attenuation, making them better for short distance runs. Having