In choosing the right type of wire for a project, there are a number of important considerations. Based on the amperage load and application, the electrician needs to determine the appropriate gauge of wire to use, as well as the type of metal wire to use. Beyond choosing between aluminum or copper, the wiring expert will understand the difference between stranded and solid wire and will choose the appropriate wire core to use for their chosen project. While solid wire consists of a single metal core, a stranded wire is composed of numerous thinner wires twisted together into a cohesive bunch. Both types of wire are appropriate for commercial and residential installation, however each has particular advantages and disadvantages that lead to the choice of one over another for each particular application.
While both types of wire will transmit electricity effectively, each is better suited to specific applications in both residential and commercial uses. Solid wire is the wire of choice for outdoor or rugged-duty applications which may expose the wire to corrosive elements, adverse weather condition or frequent movement. Stranded wire, conversely, serves a better purpose in intricate usages, such as electronic devices and circuit boards, where the wire will be protected but may undergo bending or twisting in order to connect electronic components.
The advantage of solid wire is one of cost, simplicity and durability. Because it is merely a single, thick strand of wire, the wire is very resistant to damage and extremely simple to make. However, for applications which require a great deal of movement — such as robotics or vehicular applications — or will require the wire to be bent into complex shapes — such as electronics and circuit boards — solid wire is undesirable because it lacks the strength and malleability to endure reshaping and motion. On the other hand, stranded wire is well-suited to applications which will demand flexibility and reshaping. For preventing electronic interference, however, stranded wire holds a disadvantage because the air channels between strands magnify the skin effect caused by magnetic fields on the surface of the wire.
In choosing based on cost, initial cost needs to be weighed against long-term durability. While a solid wire initially costs significantly less to purchase than stranded wire, a stranded wire will last longer in environments where motion or frequent alterations to the wiring may occur. All of these factors need to be taken into account before making a decision about the type of wire to choose for an application.
*Remember each situation is unique and this is generic information, always consult a professional before making any decision.