An electrical installation requires several types of conductors to carry the current from the main switchboard to the different points of use. The choice between one and the other is above all a question of standards.

Electric wire and cable: definitions

Differentiating between the wire and electric cable as well as their different variations is, first of all, a question of definition.

The electric wire

An electric wire is made up of a conductive element and an insulating element. The conductive element located inside the electric wire is called the “core of the wire”. Single-strand (rigid) or multi-strand (flexible) depending on its section and destination, the core can be made of different metals, chosen for their properties. The most commonly used electrical wires are copper, nickel-plated copper, or nickel (white metal).

The insulation that surrounds the conductor is mostly plastic: polyethylene (PE), polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Certain electrical wires intended for multimedia are equipped with electromagnetic shielding (braiding of wires or an aluminum foil around the core) to prevent interference with another signal.

Electric cable

An electric cable is made up of several insulated wires, united in a single or double protective sheath. It can have 2, 3, 4, or 5 threads. The number of wires contained in a cable depends on its diameter and its use. Electric cables are used in two ways:

  • for the circulation of electric current ;
  • for data transmission (telephone, IT, TV).

Choose your section of electric wire

A domestic installation comprises different supply circuits. Some serve several points of use (lighting, sockets), others (specialized) a single device: water heater, hob, oven. A separate line is also needed to power electric heaters.

The NF C 15-100 standard defines for each use a section of conductors (in mm²) adapted to the intensity of the current (in amperes) that the circuit must withstand.

The higher the intensity, the larger the section:

  • 10 A: wire cross-section 1.5 mm²
  • 16 – 20 A: wire cross-section 2.5 mm²
  • 32 A: wire cross-section 6 mm²

There are larger sections (10, 16, 25 mm²) intended for the electric meter/subscriber circuit breaker connections, for earthing, for the connection of an outbuilding. The earthing is connected by law with a braided cable, bare (not insulated).

Each line must be protected by a branch circuit breaker of a rating suitable for the operating current.

Multimedia cables

Multimedia installations must be made with specific wires, cables, and connections.

Telephone cables

They are intended for telephones, intercoms, alarms, and ringtones. They consist of one or more pairs of wires.

Hi-Fi wires

They are used for wiring audio equipment (including vehicles) and home cinema. They are available in red, black and transparent. Their section varies from 1.5 to 2.5 mm².

It is better to favor OFC (Oxygen Free Cable) qualities, insensitive to oxidation, which ensure a pure signal.

Television cables

The connection for the terrestrial distribution of satellites and antenna is made with Coaxial cables type 17 or 21VATCA.

The number before the letters indicates the loss of signal over a distance of 100 m at a frequency of 800 MHz. The lower it is, the better the transmission.

Outdoors, it is better to use the 17PATCA carbon enriched cable, which makes it more UV resistant.

Network cables

Double-shielded TNT cables are used for digital television reception.

  • RCA cables connect the audio outputs of peripherals (DVD player, etc.) to the amplifier of the Hi-Fi system.
  • Multipair RJ45s are suitable for home automation: communication network and IT.

Preparation of electrical pipes

The piping of each circuit must have at least two active conductors (phase and neutral) and a protective conductor (earth).

All conductors of the same circuit must have the same section. A neutral conductor cannot be common to several circuits. By convention, a neutral conductor is always light blue, a two-color earth conductor green, and yellow. For the phase, all other colors are allowed.

Single-insulated conductors and cables must run recessed under sheath or visible in moldings, plinths, or PVC conduits. Double-insulated stranded cables, type R2V, can be fixed directly to the walls by gluing or specialties.

Last line,

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