Last Updated on October 22, 2023 by Kevin Chen
Image source: Walmart
It is one thing to buy a wire and another thing to know its capability or capacity.
We can rate the capacity of a wire as the ability to handle the required current suitable for its application.
If you are planning to use an 18 gauge wire, you would like to know its current capacity.
So, how many amperes can an 18 gauge wire handle?
I am here to give you the right answer.
And in addition to that, I will break down how you should choose the right 18 AWG wire for your respective application area.
How many amps can an 18 AWG stand?
Back to the main question, the answer is between 3 amps to 15 amps.
Why the large disparity?
The great variance between the amperes is because the amount of current that can be supported by the wire will always depend on various factors.
They include length of the cable, the type of insulation that is used on the wire and even the power source used.
Take time to check out most of the the 15 amps applications and you will discover that they run on the 18 gauge wires.
Beyond the stated figures, there is a lot that you need to learn about regarding the relation between the wire and the amount of current that it can handle.
What does 18 AWG mean?
AWG is an acronym that stands for the American Wire Gauge. So 18 stands for the diameter of the wire as been rated by the American standard system.
AWG standard has been around for many years and manufacturers of wires across the globe have fully adopted it. So, you should use it when trying to evaluate the suitability and functionality of a wire.
However, the AWG goes beyond the diamter of a wire. It also defines the resistance of a wire per any given length.
For example, the resistance of an 18AWG wire is 6.4 Ohms per foot.
Why does the resistance measurement matter? You may ask.
It matters because it expresses the voltage drop of the wire. To find put the voltage drop of an 18 gauge wire, you will have to take its resistance and multiply with the supply voltage.
Keep in mind that the drop is also determined by the load or the device that is using the current.
Know the types of 18 AWG wires
Now you know the current that size 18AWG wire can handle. However, it goes beyond the size.
You will have to consider the type of wire used. And in this case we are referring to the material for your conducting wire.
Even if you have chosen copper to be the wire for your application, you will have to consider the insulating material. They tend to affect the conductivity of a wire.
Verify the insulating properties of each material before you end up with one.
For instance, an 10 AWG naked wire wire will be an ideal option for the grounding applications. It is designed to channel electric current to the ground.
The choice of insulator also has an impact on the temperature capacity of the wire.
For instance, an 18-gauge wire that has teflon insulator will be able to handle current at extremely high temperatures, as high as 200ºC.
Compare that to low-density insulators such as nylons which are not built to withstand high -temperature conditions. However, the same nylon insulator will be suitable for the small applications.
Other than the insulation, you should check out the UL of the 18 gauge wire in question. The UL indicates the current-handling capacities of the wires at different temperature conditions.
For example, an 18 gauge wire rated UL1015 is designed to handle up to 600 volts at the 100ºC. Similaly, the same wire that is rated UL1007 will only have half the voltage capacity at the same temperature conditions.
The supply voltage
The voltage factor plays a role in determining the amount of current that an 18 gauge wire can handle.
For example, if you are using a 120V supply, the 18 gauge will be able to handle up to 14 amps.
If your voltage source is 220 volts, the same wire should handle up to 3080 watts (14 amps)
This implies that you should be keen on the voltage source of your power source before choosing the size of the wire.
What are the applications of the 18AWG wire?
18 gauge wires are not as thick as you may assume.
If you are keen on the wire thickness, you should know that the larger the number, the thinner the wire.
18 AWG wires are mainly used for the low-voltage applications. You are likely to find them in low-voltage lighting systems.
You are also likely to find these wires in automotive applications where they wire different components in vehicles.
The application area of an 18AWG wires will depend on its sepcifications such as the material used. Some of these wires are made of copper while others are from aluminum.
Materials for the 18 gauge wire
While focusing on the wire size, you should also pay attention to the material used.
Aluminum and copper are three common materials used for these wires.
Does the material affect the amps that the wire can handle?
To find out, let’s look at the individual features of each material.
18 gauge copper wire
Copper is the most popular metal used for the 18AWG wire. It is preferred mainly because of its excellent conductivity.
Copper is also perfect when it comes to dealing with heat and external conditions such as water.
18 gauge aluminum wire
Although aluminum metal is used, it is not as good as copper. For instance, its conductivity is 60% less than that of copper.
However, we cannot deny the fact that aluminum is light and more flexible.
18AWG aluminum wires are also cheaper than copper wires.
I hope at this point you know the amps that an 18 gauge wire can handle. And when it comes to buying the wires, ensure you choose high-quality ones from reputable and reliable suppliers.
ICRFQ is reputable 18AWG wire supplier in China. Contact us and we will be glad to deliver.
If you want to find more Electronic Components Distributors, please check out the following articles:
- Everything You Need to Know About 555 Timer IC - December 4, 2023
- The Role of Electronic Distributors in the Evolution of Electric Vehicles - December 4, 2023
- IC Chips in IoT: Powering the Internet of Things Revolution - December 4, 2023