Copper wire is used all over the world in electrical equipment. Enamelled copper wire, also called "magnet wire," is also widely used. The difference between the enamelled copper wire and regular wire is in the insulation surrounding the wire. Normal copper wire is insulated by wrapping it in thick rubber. Enamelled copper wire is insulated by coating it with enamel. It is primarily used in three types of applications. It is used, in transformers to transform one kind of electrical energy into other kinds. It is used in motors to transform electrical energy into mechanical energy. It is also used in generators to transform mechanical energy into electrical energy.
One of the primary properties that makes enamelled copper wire desirable for these applications is the enamelling insulation. Transformers, motors and generators are all machines based on the coil, which is a device that generates magnetic fields and electrical currents using large coils of wire. The smaller these devices are, the stronger they are. Because enamelled copper wire is insulated by a thin coat of copper instead a thick sleeve of rubber, it takes up less space, and so can make more effective coils.
Enamelled copper wire is also so widely used in these devices because of its conductivity. Wire is meant to carry electrical currents. All materials resist the flow of electrical currents to some extent or other, so the best material to make wires out of would be the most electrically conductive, least electrically resistant material available. Copper has less resistance than almost any other material. This means that generators using copper wire will produce more electricity than generators using most other substances. Motors made of it will produce more motion. Transformers made of it will lose less energy.
Resistance to Corrosion
The third feature of enamelled copper wire that makes it so attractive for use in these devices is its resistance to corrosion. Almost all metals rust, but some rust more quickly than others. While silver is an excellent conductor, it rusts far too quickly to be of any value in electrical equipment. Due to its high resistance to corrosion, copper is the material of choice for use in electrical circuits, as it will last a long time.
Enamelled copper wire comes in the same range of gauges that ordinary wire does, from about 5 AWG to about 40 AWG. "AWG" stands for American wire gauge. These gauges correspond to diameters of 182 thousandths of an inch to three thousandths of an inch.
The enamel insulation of magnet wire is formed of a chemical called polyesterimide. This is a class H insulation, as rated by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. This is the highest possible rating, and means that the wire can withstand temperatures of 180 degrees Celsius for at least 20,000 hours. This makes enamelled copper wire capable of carrying more current than wires of the same size insulated with anything else.
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