Household or industrial appliances use power to function. That implies the use of a conductor that transfers electricity through some means, often wires. Wires are conductors because they serve as a vehicle through which electricity flows from one point of supply to another point where it is used, in this case, to run appliances.
The strength of a conductor is determined by its function. Large conductors, also referred to as service conductors, transfer power from substations to our homes. They feed your meter which then feeds the electrical panel and the individual wires that have electrical appliances at the end.
There are different kinds of wires of course; wires used for welded mesh panels are often made of metal, for example. This is the kind of wire that’s used for wire furniture. The ones we are focusing on today are more functional.
Wire material and types
Electrical wires are usually made of aluminium or copper. The latter is a better and safer conductor. Copper and aluminium are common because they are cheap and good conductors at the same time. Though rare, gold is also used as a conductor because it is resistant to corrosion. Appliances that use gold conductors are those expected to function for many years and those consistently exposed to corrosion.
Electrical engineers have the expertise for deciding what wire is best for a particular electricity transfer. For this reason, using the right material and design is important. Deciding on a wire is informed by several factors:
- Durability: the ability of the wire to withstand contractions from electricity transfer
- Voltage and current level: whether low voltage (50-1,000AC/120-1500DC) or high voltage (over 1,000 AC/ over 1,500 DC).
- Suspension strength: the wire’s ability to hold its weight for long periods.
- The temperature of operation: whether low, medium or super superconducting wire.
- Cost: how deep one needs to dig to the pocket to buy the wire.
Based on conductivity, wires fall under these types:
- Solid wires
These are compact wires that are rigid and strong, with a lesser possibility to corrode. However, they may not withstand consistent flexing and will break if flexed continuously on the same spot. They are not the best for high voltage transfer.
- Stranded wire
This is used in a lot of home appliances. It comprises of several small parallel wires that are twisted together. The key strength of this wire is that it is an extremely good conductor. However, because the strands of small wires touch each other, shorting makes them act as one large wire, causing more resistance in power transfer.
- Braided wires
Braided wires are intertwined for greater durability and conductivity. The braiding gives them lots of surface area to transfer electricity. They are also more resistant to bending. The cost could, however, be an impediment.
- Special wires
Some wires combine more than a single design to create more durable and better-conducting options. These are special and used with special appliances. For example, a coax cable that is braided and coated with foil conductors on the outside is used with electronics such as radio and television. The shielding helps to trap the frequencies and prevent stray electromagnetic energy from contaminating the area near the sensitive receivers.
Common uses of wire in home appliances
Apart from radio and television, wires are used in a wide range of other household appliances. These may include house lighting, landscape lighting, telephone and data lines, speaker systems, thermostats, doorbells, and sprinkler systems among many others.
It’s important to note that these appliances use low voltage wiring, with lesser risks compared to the high voltage wiring.