Solid Vs. Stranded Wire

Written by michael logan
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Solid Vs. Stranded Wire
Bare solid copper wire on spools. (spools with a wire image by Victor M. from

Electrical wire comes in two types, solid and stranded. Stranded wire is made of multiple strands wound together to make a single wire. Solid wire is made from a single conductor of solid copper.

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Home Wiring

Usually there is no choice in home wiring except for specific circuits. Most homes are wired with sheathed cable in 14 gauge and 12 gauge and the conductors are solid wires. Larger sheathed cables such as 8 gauge, 6 gauge and larger gauges utilise stranded wire since it is more flexible.

Conduit Wiring

Home or commercial buildings wired using conduit may use either solid or stranded wire. The wire is pulled through metal conduit, which serves as a protector to the wire. Larger gauge wires are frequently stranded, which makes them easier to pull through conduit.

Splice Connections

Stranded wires are stripped and twisted together with a wire nut. Solid wires are stripped and twisted together with a pliers before capping with a wire nut. A solid to stranded wire connection is made by twisting the stranded conductor around the solid conductor with a wire nut.

Terminal Connections

Solid wire is bent into a loop or hook shape and placed around the terminal screw. Stranded wire is twisted before forming the wire around the terminal. In either case, the wire should go clockwise around the terminal screw so it is drawn tightly in when the screw is tightened.

Size Differences

Stranded wire has a slightly larger diameter than a solid wire of the same gauge and current carrying capability. There are wire strippers made for solid wire which usually have yellow handles, and wire strippers made for stranded wire which have red handles. Always use the correct wire stripper for the type of wire being used.


Wire gauges are standard diameters of wires. The smaller the number, the larger the diameter and current carrying capability. Thus, 12-gauge wire is larger than 14-gauge wire and carries up to 20 amps instead of the maximum of 15 amps that 14-gauge carries. This is true of both stranded and solid wire.

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