How to Use Stranded Wire Vs. Solid Wire

Written by michael logan
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How to Use Stranded Wire Vs. Solid Wire
There are small differences between using solid and stranded wire. (electrical box image by jimcox40 from

Wire manufacturers supply wire in two basic types--solid and stranded. Both can be used in home wiring for standard circuits, but for large wires over 10-gauge in size, you will find the wire is only available in stranded. There are few differences in using stranded wire versus solid wire, but not many. By making a few simple adjustments to your wiring techniques, you'll find that using stranded wire is just as easy as using solid wire.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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  1. 1

    Connect two or more wires together with wire nuts. Twist solid wires together with pliers before screwing on a wire nut. Hold the ends of stranded wires together and screw on a wire nut to make the connection without twisting them first. Hold a solid wire and a stranded wire end together and screw on the wire nut to make the connection.

  2. 2

    Strip wire with a wire stripper. Solid wires and stranded wires use different strippers since stranded wire is slightly thicker than solid wire.

  3. 3

    Back wire or side wire switches and receptacles with stranded wire. Never use the push-in terminals on the backs of outlets with stranded wire since they are only designed for solid wire.

  4. 4

    Purchase stranded wire rather than solid wire for 10-gauge or larger applications when running wire through conduit. Stranded wire is much easier to pull through conduit than solid wire.

  5. 5

    Make terminal lug connections such as back wiring with stranded wire by twisting the wires first, then inserting the wire into the terminal and tightening the screw. Wrap both solid and stranded wires clockwise around regular terminal screws.

Tips and warnings

  • For standard 120 volt wiring, there is little difference between stranded and solid conductors. Use whichever is most convenient and cost effective.
  • Always turn off the circuit breaker or remove the fuse before working on your homes wiring. Always check to make sure the electricity is off by testing with a voltage tester.

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