In general, an electrical wire is used to fabricate electronic and electrical circuits. In order to know what diameter or gauge of wire to be used in a circuit, you must consider how much electrical current the circuit needs.
For example, using the specifications for a 16 AWG copper wire to see how the diameter and length of a wire affect how much electrical current a wire is able to carry. Here are some of the specifications.
- The wire diameter is known as AWG or American Wire Gauge. No matter what the material type is, a 16 AWG wire will always be the same diameter as 1.29 millimeters or 0.0508 inches.
- The capability of a wire to carry electrical current is directly proportional to the wire’s diameter. For instance, a non-insulated 20 AWG wire with a diameter of 0.03 inches can carry a maximum of 1.5 amperes of electrical current. While a 16 AWG can carry a maximum of 3.7 amperes of electrical current under the same specifications.
- The voltage at the transmission end of the wire can be different from the voltage at the reception end of the wire. The reason is that electrical conductors present some electrical resistance. Electrical resistance through a 16 AWG copper wire can be calculated by using this formula of length in feet multiply with 13.17 Ohms divided by 1000 feet. This formula will show the wire resistance in Ohms.