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Understanding Cabling Requirements of an Average House
Just bought a new home!?
And, thinking about wiring and cabling, the most cumbersome task?
Don't worry, here in this article, I will be covering various types of cables which are useful in our homes and brief about them.
Wiring modern homes require a standard quality of work in comparison to the homes from the mid-1960s.
Today, any new electrical installations require new wiring that complies with local building codes.
Before we begin, let's discuss some of the wiring terminologies.
An electrical wire is a conductor that conducts electricity. In the household wiring, the conductor is usually copper or aluminum; it is either a solid metal conductor or a stranded wire.
In our homes we use insulated wires, meaning wrapping these wires with a non-conductive plastic coating. Home wiring has a boon in the form of the ground wiring, they are solid copper with insulation of green sheathing.
The most common type of wiring in modern homes is in the form of a non-metallic cable, which consists of two or more wires. It has a protective plastic casing.
Non-metallic cables usually contain one or more hot wires. Of which, one is a neutral wire and the other a ground wire.
Another alternative to non-metallic cables is the individual wire for which the installation happens inside a rigid or flexible metal or a plastic tubing known as conduit. Conduits are typically useful where there are wires that you cannot hide in the walls, ceilings or floors.
Our homes have high voltage as well as low voltage current. You need to make sure that you do not touch the high voltage current sockets, especially with wet hands. Whereas, in low voltage wires there is no danger and fewer chances of getting shocked.
But, it is better to not touch any wire regardless of their voltage and consider them all as dangerous.
Now, let's understand the type of different cables we use in our daily lives:
Non-Metallic (NM) Cabling:
It is known as "Romex", a name behind a famous brand name. NM cables are useful for interior use in dry locations. Most of them are flat and have a tubular shape and can easily pass through the walls and floors of our homes. Almost all the wiring in the outlets is light and fixes modern homes.
Below are some of the most common sizes and their amperage:
- 14-gauge (15-amp circuits)
- 12-gauge (20-amp circuits)
- 10-gauge (30-amp circuits)
- 8-gauge (40-amp circuits)
- 6-gauge (55-amp circuits)
They are also available in color-coded outer jackets to indicate its wire gauge:
- White sheathing indicates NM cable with 14-gauge conductors.
- Yellow sheathing indicates NM cable with 12-gauge conductors.
- Orange sheathing indicates NM cable with 10-gauge conductors.
- Black-sheathed cable is useful for both 6-gauge and 8-gauge wire.
- Gray sheathing is not useful for NM cable but is useful for underground (UF) cable.
Underground Feeder (UF):
Underground feeder is a type of a non-metallic cable which is useful for wet locations and direct burial in the ground. It is useful for supplying outdoor fixtures, such as lampposts. Similar to NM cable, UF contains insulated hot and neutral wires. Additionally, they are also a bare ground wire. UF cable selling happens through the gray outer casing.
They are majorly useful for major circuit wiring; it carries very high voltage as long as the circuits are on.
In today's time, coaxial cables are less useful because of other forms of data wiring such as HDMI for television data transmission. They are round jacketed cables that feature an inner conductor and surround the tubular insulating layer.
There are various types of cables found like RCA cable, rg59 coaxial cable and many more. Each of these cables has a purpose to serve like RCA cable is useful in televisions, DVD players or VCD players. Whereas, rg59 coaxial cable is useful in satellite or security purposes.
So, before purchasing these cables you need to have an in-depth understanding of them. Most of them have white or black insulation and are in round shape. There are very fewer chances of getting shocked upon touching these cables as they carry less amount of voltage.
Phone and data wires:
Telephone and data cables are very low voltage wires and are useful for landline and internet connections. They contain four or eight wires. The most common type of wire is Category 5 i.e. Cat 5 cable. This cable contains eight wires wrapped in four pairs.
It is useful for both phone and data transmission and offers great capacity and quality in comparison to common phone wires. These types of wires carry very small amounts of voltage and are safe because they are under 30 volts.
Working with wires can be tiresome. But, isn't it exciting to do it on your own? You get to learn a lot and can change the wiring according to your requirements like hanging up fairy lights or playing with dim lights.