What is the functional difference between stranded and solid-core wire?
Solid wire consists of a single strand or core of wire that is insulated with non-conductive material. Typically you will find solid core wire in situations where the wire is not designed to be continuously flexed (i.e. your house electrical wiring, wires for breadboards, etc.)
Stranded wire consists of a bundle of small gauge wires compressed and insulated with non-conductive material. Typically you will find stranded wires in situations where the wire needs to be routed through tight spaces or experiences frequent flexing/vibration (i.e. headphone cables, speaker wire, automotive wire, appliance cables, etc.)
Some advantages of solid core wire:
- Cheaper to produce
- More compact diameter for the same current carrying capability as stranded
- Less likely to fail due to corrosion
Disadvantages of solid core wire:
- Typically only available in small gauges
- Continuous flexing or vibration will cause the wire to fatigue and break
Some advantages of stranded wire:
- Very flexible and withstands a greater amount of flexing and vibration
- Easier to rout
Disadvantages of stranded wire:
- Diameter is larger for the same carrying capability as solid
- More costly to produce as the manufacturing process is more complex
- More likely to fail due to corrosion from capillary action & a high surface area
I hope this has answered your question and good luck choosing the correct cable!
Don’t forget, everyone is invited to ask a question!
“Ask an Educator” questions are answered by Adam Kemp, a high school teacher who has been teaching courses in Energy Systems, Systems Engineering, Robotics and Prototyping since 2005.