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Author Topic: Solid versis stranded copper wire???????  (Read 4734 times)
jackhartjr
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« on: September 11, 2007, 08:02:37 PM »

Hi folks!
For those that have done conversions, which is better...and why...solid or stranded copper wire?
Also would 14 gauge work for most of the 40 foot runs to the engine, or go with 12 gauge?
Thanks in advance!
Jack
PS...any secrets to finding good wire out here?
I was in a Farm and Fleet today, they had 500 foot rolls of 12 and 14 gauge in solid and stranded.  $35.00 to $59.00 depending on the gauge.
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« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2007, 08:12:54 PM »

Hi Jack,

Without question stranded wire is by far the best for anything which moves, be it boats or buses. In fact tinned, stranded wire is the best available. It doesn't corrode and will last the life of the bus and then some as well as having the ability to carry more current (amps) than solid core wire.

My best source is Waytek Wire in MN. They have an on-line catalog and you will find more than just wire and terminals for your needs. Too, many of us who have almost completed our conversions might have bought more than we needed and have some extra available...I do and will be happy to offer what I have for anyone who might need it.

"Onward through the fog...." is my motto!

NCbob
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jackhartjr
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« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2007, 08:24:32 PM »

Hi Bob, I think you are coming to the "Non-Rally"?  If so please bring what you don't need, I'll bring cash! LOL Grin
Thanks a ton!
Jack
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Jerry Liebler
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« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2007, 08:31:35 PM »

There are differences in insulation as well.  Automotive wire is not suitable for 120 volt use, it's plain dangerous.  For 120 volt wire you should get 600 volt insulation and preferably wire approved under the National Electric Code.  If you are using individual wires you'll need conduit for the 120 volt 'stuff'.  Thnn stranded 12 guage in flexible PVC conduit is what I used for most of my 120 volt circuts.  I bought a 500 foot spool in black,white,green and red.  This did all the 120 volt and the 12 volt wiring.  I put the 12 volt in plastic cable wraps from the local auto parts store.  When using stranded wire you do need to make all connections with crimp terminals and they need to be crimped with a proper crimp tool, not a pair of superchamps.
Regards
Jerry 4107 1120
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jackhartjr
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« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2007, 08:35:10 PM »

Hi Jerry, I should have said this is for the 12 volt stuff, not the house wiring.
For the 120 stuff it will be all house wiring.
Thanks for the reply.
Jack
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« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2007, 09:04:45 PM »

Jack,
    By house wiring I assume you mean 'romex' or plastic sheathed cable.  'romex' is solid wire and really not the best for use in a vehicle.  In using it just be sure to support it well with lots of staples,clamps or ties.  It is much easier to find proper boxes etc. for romex and you don't need crimp terminals with the solid wire.  I prefer the conduit and individual stranded wire method.
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Jerry 4107 1120
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DrivingMissLazy
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« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2007, 04:37:36 AM »

Be very careful when buying wire from the Cheap Charlie places. Many of them sell stranded copper, however you need to find tinned stranded copper. A world of difference. The un-tinned will corrode, the tinned wiill not.
Richard
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maria-n-skip
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« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2007, 06:52:08 AM »

From a more than casual observation.

  My bus has 12 g marine stranded wire to the Air conditioner. When I moved the breaker box I splices in with  solid copper
  for the connection to the breakers. They are both close to the same length and gauge.

  Result is the stranded is markedly warmer than the solid. (not hot just warmer.)

   Maybe I have missed something but.
   Don't undersize anything. If a wire feel warm try to figure out why.

   Still figuring

   Skip
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TomC
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« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2007, 08:57:02 AM »

I also used stranded copper running through light weight water tight conduit available from Home Depot (Home Depot, Camping World, etc is where I got the vast majority of my supplies-of which there are many stores nationwide).

I just recently had to replace one of my main 50amp breakers.  They were two separate breakers that I replaced with one double 50 for the generator.  The old one kept tripping, so I thought it was worn out since it is used for the gen/land hook up.  When I took it apart, the screw holding the wire was not very tight.  May have been the problem, but still replaced it.  With our mobile homes vibrating down the road, we should have a scheduled program to tighten accessible connections routinely to prevent problems.  Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2007, 09:19:07 AM »

TomC,

   Do you tin the ends of your stranded wire?

  Skip
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« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2007, 02:36:37 PM »

Did not tin the ends.  But used double wall crimp fittings.  Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2007, 09:36:22 PM »

I did a test- quite informal mind you- back a few years ago for the BNO folks.   Basically stuck various wire types (all 14ga) in my milling machine chuck n vice, and bent them all up and down with the quill in an equal amount until they failed.  The pictures tell the rest of the story i think.... Smiley

Answer: USE STRANDED and the more strands the better....

http://www.heartmagic.com/00WIREstory.JPG

cheers
Gary
« Last Edit: September 14, 2007, 09:38:33 PM by boogiethecat » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2007, 10:40:30 PM »

Gary, Very informative test.  Something everyone should take away from this thread, as has been mentioned many times before, is that whatever wire you use it needs to be secure or it can and will fail.  If I was to drive my coach on our country roads with a wire that flexed going over bumps it would take me about 5 minutes to get 460 cycles!!!!! Shocked

That said my old bus was wired with romex and wire nuts by PO and never has caused a problem. 

Don 4107
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« Reply #13 on: September 14, 2007, 11:09:58 PM »

I was told a while back that the NEC did NOT allow stranded wire in motor homes.  I thought solid was a bad idea but the info was that the marine stuff was not approved.  I have enuf experience and education to know that stranded is superior where and vibration or induce movement is in the environment.  Period!  Still, the code is the code.  Can anybody straighten me out on this?

I don't know if the numbers are exactly correct but stranded cable will oxidize in less time than solid.  Ten strand 14 gauge will take one tenth the time to be eaten thru as opposed to solid 14 gauge.  I think the tinned stock would be worth the extra cash.

John
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« Reply #14 on: September 15, 2007, 04:31:03 AM »

JohnEd, The NEC is great for reference and safety, I think just about every wire in an automobile that "I" can think of is stranded!  I personally like the tinned marine wire, the NEC is probably confused because it's called "marine" wire! Just kidding!  Even with the price of copper today, your wiring is one of the cheaper components when converting your bus! I read in the paper just about everyday where the police catch some retard stealing copper! You would think its gold! 
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« Reply #15 on: September 15, 2007, 04:42:18 AM »

The best wire to use, in my opinion is tinned, stranded copper, minimum 19 strands. It should meet UL1019 standards. It is not marine wire. The code for marine products is not NEC or UL. Larger boats do not have to comply with those standards. The marine standards that I had to meet manufacturing my ShorPower converters was LLoyds, ABYS and a couple of others I have forgotten.

When crimping lugs on wire, it is extremely important to use the proper crimping tool and a good quality lug. The crimping tool will cost $100 or more and once you start the crimp, you can not stop until the crimp is completed. The crimping action actually flows the copper of the wire and the lug so that it is impossible to obtain a poor crimp or a crimp that will corrode internally.

Richard
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« Reply #16 on: September 15, 2007, 07:32:34 AM »

i used romex on mine because that was waht was in my travel trailer, that was 20 yrs ago and ive never ever had a problem with the wiring. standed wire is not recomended for ac voltage, however what ever you think. i just clamped everything as i went.
Frank Allen
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Sam 4106
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« Reply #17 on: September 15, 2007, 08:36:44 AM »

Frank Allen, Where do you get the idea that "stranded wire is not recomended for ac voltage"? That"s the first time I've heard that.
Thanks, Sam 4106
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« Reply #18 on: September 15, 2007, 03:06:06 PM »

i used romex on mine because that was waht was in my travel trailer, that was 20 yrs ago and ive never ever had a problem with the wiring. stranded wire is not recommended for ac voltage, however what ever you think. i just clamped everything as i went.
Frank Allen

I seriously question the validity of that statement. I manufactured thousands and thousands of various AC power converters, all to UL standards, and all used stranded wire exclusively. I do not recall ever using solid conductors for anything.
Richard
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« Reply #19 on: September 15, 2007, 03:48:37 PM »

My understanding is that stranded automotive wire meeting SAE spec J1128 does not meet AC wiring requirements, but Thhn stranded does meet code for AC wiring as long as it is inside approved conduit.  Jack
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« Reply #20 on: September 18, 2007, 09:03:05 AM »

AC current flow is subject to "skin effect"

Skin effect is a tendency for alternating current (AC) to flow mostly near the outer surface of a solid electrical conductor, such as metal wire. The effect becomes more and more apparent as the frequency increases.

Skin effect can be reduced by using stranded rather than solid wire. This increases the effective surface area of the wire for a given wire gauge.

Automotive applications  (DC) prefer stranded not for efficiency, but for ability to withstand vibration.

Fredm 4106
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« Reply #21 on: September 18, 2007, 10:54:23 AM »

AC current flow is subject to "skin effect"

Skin effect is a tendency for alternating current (AC) to flow mostly near the outer surface of a solid electrical conductor, such as metal wire. The effect becomes more and more apparent as the frequency increases.

Skin effect can be reduced by using stranded rather than solid wire. This increases the effective surface area of the wire for a given wire gauge.

Automotive applications  (DC) prefer stranded not for efficiency, but for ability to withstand vibration.

Fredm 4106

Where I went to school (Air Force at Keesler) they taught about skin effect but it was only apparent when you got up to the higher frequencies. At 400 hertz it definitely had an effect. And we had to do things differently out in the field when working with 400 hertz.

At 60 hertz it had no apparent effect, as least so they said.

Richard
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« Reply #22 on: September 18, 2007, 12:14:23 PM »


"Although the skin effect is generally associated with RF and microwave circuitry, it often plays a significant role in switching power electronics, transformers, motors, and high power AC transmission lines. Whenever designing conductors for anything other than DC, it is advisable to be aware of the skin depth (a.k.a. depth of penetration)."

For full info & skin effect calculator:

http://circuitcalculator.com/wordpress/2007/06/18/skin-effect-calculator/
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« Reply #23 on: September 18, 2007, 06:37:08 PM »

It's interesting to me that on every forum dealing with busses, every time someone asks this question (solid vs stranded), it always gets out of hand as this thread has, and eventually arguements start, skin effect is mentioned, etc etc etc.  It's just silly.  Not that I need to chime in again, but skin effect is a real effect that has absolutely no meaning to bus wiring, as it only occurs with high voltages and frequencies that you'll NEVER see in a bus....unless you happen to launch yourself off the road and get tangled up hanging your bus on a 500kv power line or maybe a 100kw radio transmitting tower... at which point that's the least of your problems.

The bottom line in this whole conversation is, use what you want to use.  Stranded wire, Solid wire, boat wire, THHN, UL 1015, SAE blah blah, or whatever kind of wire you want to use may or may not be approved by the code writers for RV's, but then again they are not infallable gods either in their writings.  The code is simply a strong and reasonable suggestion for folks that don't want to or cannot do the research or think for themselves.

 As long as the wire gauge you use is heavy enough to carry your proposed current without overheating, its insulation is adaquate to withstand the voltage you'll give it, its made of a material that won't degrade under the conditions you subject it to and the construction you use is robust enough to take whatever vibration and abuse your bus is going to give it and not cause shorts or breaks, just do it.  Stranded wire in an RV will always be a better bet than solid wire as long as the other requirements (voltage, current, insulation quality and mechanical) are met,  but as you can read here, just as many of us use solid housewire and get away with it just as well as do the nitpickers who adhere to the code like flies on sticky paper.  Personally, its 100% stranded UL 1015 wire in plastic conduit for my busses, or nothing, but that's just me.  Do as you will and do it well, and all you'll get is enjoyment....

CHeers
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« Reply #24 on: September 19, 2007, 06:51:08 AM »

Thank you Boogie for a well thought out reply.

I think the only time an average person would run into skin effect would be if they were working on a larger aircraft that uses 400 hertz power.
Richard
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« Reply #25 on: September 19, 2007, 08:16:16 AM »

Skin effect can have an effect on efficiency (resistance) even at 60hz at high amp levels. My previous post also stated that stranded wire is not used for efficiency reasons, but for mechanical, ie:vibration etc.
This thread has certainly been beaten to death.   The consensus is stranded but busnuts are known to think/act outside the box.
Fred 4106
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« Reply #26 on: September 19, 2007, 11:27:16 AM »

PO used solid wire in í79 when the conversion on my bus was done. Didnít do the best job of keeping it supported and neat but itís still working after 28 years. I believe stranded is better, but for those with solid, donít loose any sleep over it, Iím not. Regardless of what type of wire you have be sure to check it on occasion. There is a converter in Florida (seems to be well respected among converters) that uses extension cords (with the ends cut off) for wiring. What do you all think of that? Huh

Happy bussing, Smiley

Laryn
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« Reply #27 on: September 19, 2007, 02:19:10 PM »

If you wired your coach in solid wire, it's all wrong - rip it out.  Same goes if you used stranded.

Len
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« Reply #28 on: September 19, 2007, 02:22:11 PM »


 So Len what do I use?

  I was considering fiber optics but I think the bends would be to sharp?


 Skip
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« Reply #29 on: September 19, 2007, 09:24:02 PM »

Try an enigma sheathed in a conundrum
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« Reply #30 on: September 19, 2007, 11:40:11 PM »

If you wired your coach in solid wire, it's all wrong - rip it out.  Same goes if you used stranded.

Len

I have wireless cords (they are a perfect solution to this dilema!) for sale. If anyone is interested let me know and I'll post them in the spare tire section! Grin  BK  Grin
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« Reply #31 on: September 20, 2007, 04:35:53 AM »

I would suggest you use waveguide. That is what we used in the Radar systems to eliminate the skin effect.

Richard
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