Hey everyone, Willie the Wire Guy here. Lately, I’ve been keeping in touch with a number of our customers who have purchased wire and cable products for a couple of reasons: (1) to make sure they’re satisfied with their wire and cable, and (2) out of curiosity—to see how our products are being used. I’ve received awesome feedback, and I’m glad to see that people find our wire and cable performs at a high level.
It’s also been great to see the kinds of projects people are undertaking that have made them need our products in the first place. I thought it’d be a good idea to share this information for anyone who might be tackling a similar electrical project so that they can learn what type of wire others are using. Today, we’re going to focus on our Aluminum Service Entrance Cable with reinforcement tape (or SER Cable) and how Wire & Cable To Go buyers are putting it to use.
Using SER Cable to Feed Distribution and Sub-Panels
Predominantly, people are using our Aluminum SER Cable as it’s generally intended—to carry power from a service drop to the electronic meter base, and from that meter base to the distribution panel. More specifically, many customers are using our SER as a service entrance feeder cable from utility poles to their sub-panels when distributing power to an area outside the home (like a detached garage). SER is a perfect cable for feeding power to your sub-panel, and, depending on the amount of amps their sub-panels are handling (we’ve seen everywhere from 50 amp to 200 amp sub-panels being serviced), our customers are using all sizes of SER as a sub-panel feeder. What’s important to keep in mind when wiring a sub-panel on a structure separate from the home is that the sub-panel will need to be grounded. For this reason, all of our SER cable comes with ground included.
Many external structures that require significant power to function can utilize SER in their electrical distribution. Just a few that we’ve seen our customers build and service are:
- external garages
- pole barns
- heavy-duty workshops
- pool houses
- green houses
We’ve seen each of these projects employ Aluminum SER cable as a service entrance, but it’s important to understand that SER is only suitable as an above-ground service entrance cable. For direct burial aluminum cable for underground distribution, please take a look at our selection of Aluminum URD Wire, or visit our direct burial cable archive.
While SER is mostly used for much the same purposes across the board—distributing power from the main power supply to a subsidiary structure—it’s been interesting to hear of the unique things people have been powering on their property with our Aluminum Service Entrance cable. We will continue to profile how our customers are using different types of wire and cable in the future, so be sure to look out for our next installment!
If you have an upcoming project and are considering Aluminum SER Cable we do recommend consulting with a local electrician who is up to date on all codes and who can also advise on the correct size.
We offer Aluminum SER Wire in sizes 6 AWG - 4/0 and can cut to any length you need!
Please click here to view our entire Aluminum SER selection>>
Feel free to give us a call at 855-880-8010 if you have any questions!
Thanks for stopping by!
Happy New Year Everyone!
Do you have an upcoming project that requires a flexible control cable and/or tray cable?
If so, we recommend checking out our ÖLFLEX® Wire category made by LAPP Cable. LAPP Cable manufactures high-quality cables designed for flexible applications & equipment. We currently are offering ÖLFLEX® 190 cables and ÖLFLEX® TRAY II cable.
ÖLFLEX® 190 Cable
ÖLFLEX® 190 is a multi-conductor cable with a highly oil-, coolant-, and solvent-resistant PVC jacket for control and power applications in an industrial environment. It is designed for use in all electrical equipment under dry, damp, and wet conditions. ÖLFLEX® 190 CY is a shielded version for EMI and RFI protection.
PLEASE CLICK HERE TO VIEW OUR ÖLFLEX® 190 CATEGORY>>
ÖLFLEX® TRAY II Cable
ÖLFLEX® TRAY II is an industrial grade tray cable with superior oil performance for long cable life. It has a pressure-extruded jacket and fine copper stranding for excellent flexibility, making it much easier to pull through tray. With UL TC-ER approval, no conduit is needed so you can reduce material costs along with saving on labor.
PLEASE CLICK HERE TO VIEW OUR ÖLFLEX® TRAY II CATEGORY>>
If you are looking for a certain Lapp Cable but can't locate it on our site please call us at 855-880-8010.
Thanks for stopping by & have a great day!
PS - please take a look at this fun video below of a robot made up of Lapp cable shooting a basketball!
Weighing the differences between THHN/THWN-2 & XHHW/XHHW-2 building wire
When it comes to building wire, two of the most common and popular choices for electricians, engineers & homeowners are THHN and XHHW (or the newer and improved THWN/THWN-2 and XHHW-2). These cables come in both copper and aluminum, can have solid or stranded conductors, and are mainly used for power distribution up to 600 volts in the construction of residential, commercial, and industrial buildings.
While these two wire types are very similar and often interchangeable in their application, the differences are important to know in order to make the smartest decision when making a building wire purchase.
Wire Jacket & Insulation
The main difference between XHHW/XHHW-2 and THHN/THWN-2 is in the wire’s jacket. The different letters in names denote particular properties of each cable, and each provides the cable with varying levels of insulation:
T for Thermoplastic
HH for High Heat-Resistant, and
N for Nylon Coated
X for Cross-Linked Polyethylene (XLPE)
HH for High Heat-Resistant, and
W for Water Resistant
THWN or THWN-2
T for Thermoplastic
H for Heat and
W for Water Resistant, and
N for Nylon Coated.
XHHW-2 has the same properties as XHHW, but the "-2" denotes improved insulation.
The jackets on the THHN family are thinner than those of XHHW wires. This means that, while more THHN can be fit into a raceway or fed through a conduit, its jacket doesn’t offer as much protection as the XHHW jacket—XHHW’s jacket coating is more resistant to chemicals, ozone and abrasions while THHN’s thin coating can lead to current leakage and can break down from chemical or environmental exposure, emitting a toxic smoke when burned.
Even though its jacket is thicker and more protective, XHHW is also more flexible than THHN wire. The XLPE insulation of the XHHW allows the cable to bend and flex better than the THHN’s PVC insulation—so XHHW is much easier to work with during the installation process.
When comparing the price of the two wires, the equivalent gauge of XHHW costs somewhere between 5-20% more than its THHN counterpart.
At the end of the day, the decision between using XHHW or THHN in their next project comes down to weighing performance versus budget. On one hand, THHN is the more popular cable with our customers and many would say it’s perfectly sufficient for what they need. On the other hand, XHHW has the features to provide increased efficiency and extended longevity.
Both cables are incredibly popular, each with unique characteristics that are advantageous in certain environments. The choice between the two really just boils down to the project at hand and the budget with which you have to work.
At Wire & Cable Your Way, we sell many sizes of THHN/THWN-2 & XHHW/XHHW-2 building wire with a wide range of colored jackets and sold either cut-by-the-foot or in spools. Follow the links below to check out our selection.
"Can this cable be directly buried?"
We get asked this question all the time, so we've come up with an answer for everyone.
We often get questions about whether a certain cable qualifies as direct burial. We're always happy to answer these questions because we know it can get confusing - aside from a few cables (like UF-B and URD) that are always appropriate for direct burial, there are many, many more that are equipped with a sufficient jacket to be rated for direct burial.
To help customers find the right cable, we've added an entirely new section to our website. You can now find all cables rated for direct burial in one place!
Or take a look at some of our most popular direct burial cables:
UF-B Wire - 6 to 14 AWG, with both 2 & 3 conductors.
URD Wire - 6 AWG to 1000 MCM. Triplex, Quadruplex, and single conductor.
THHN-PVC Tray Cable
THHN-PVC Tray Cable - 18 AWG to 500 MCM.
Have a question? We've got answers. You can send your questions to: email@example.com
What do the 'M' and 'C' in MC cable mean? What does XLPE cable stand for? Why is it called SOOW cable? Answers to these questions and more!
The world of wire and cable has a language of its own, and even those with experience need a translator from time to time. Your old pal Willie knows this to be true, so I’ve compiled a cheat sheet on wire and cable nomenclature for you to reference.
First, we have a list of individual descriptors, each either made up of one or two letters. These can define what the cable is used for, what it’s made of, or what the cable can withstand––like heat resistance or voltage ratings. Often, a cable’s name will be some combination of two or more of the descriptors below.
The Components of Wire & Cable Nomenclature
E: thermoplastic elastomer
FF: flexible fixture
H: heat-resistant 75ºC
HH: high heat-resistant 90ºC
J: junior service, rated to 300 volts
[caption id="attachment_2154" align="alignright" width="250"] NM-B: non-metallic building wire.[/caption]
ML: motor lead wire
N: nylon coating
O: oil-resistant jacket
OO: oil-resistant jacket and insulation
P: polyethylene coating
S: service cord
SE: service entrance
SR: silicone rubber insulation
[caption id="attachment_2155" align="alignright" width="250"] SEOOW: Service cable w/ thermoplastic Elastomer, Oil-resistant jacket & Oil-resistant insulation, Weather-resistant[/caption]
V: vinyl coating
VW: vertical wire
W: weather-resistant / water-resistant
W/G: with ground
If you’re looking for an explanation of a specific cable’s nomenclature, below is a list of popular cable types and what their names signify.
Wire & Cable Names and Explanations
DLO: Diesel Locomotive cable
HCF: Health Care Facilities wire
MC: Metal-Clad cable
MTW: Machine Tool Wire
NM-B: Non-Metallic Building wire
RHH: Rubber-insulated High Heat-resistant cable
RHW: Rubber-insulated Heat- Water-resistant cable
SEOOW: Service cable w/ thermoplastic Elastomer, Oil-resistant jacket & Oil-resistant insulation, Weather-resistant
SER: Service Entrance cable with Reinforcement tape
SIS: Switchboard wire
SJEOOW: Service cable Junior (300V) w/ thermoplastic Elastomer, Oil-resistant jacket & Oil-resistant insulation, Weather-resistant
SJOOW: Service cable Junior (300V) w/ Oil-resistant jacket & Oil-resistant insulation, Weather-resistant
SOOW: Service cable w/ Oil-resistant jacket & Oil-resistant insulation, Weather-resistant
SRML: Silicone-Rubber insulated Motor Lead wire
STO: Service cable w/ Thermoplastic Oil-resistant jacket
TFFN: Thermoplastic Flexible Fixture Nylon wire
TGGT: Teflon-Glass-Glass-Teflon; Teflon wrapped w/ Teflon-impregnated, Glass outer braid
THHN: Thermoplastic High Heat-resistant Nylon wire
THWN: Thermoplastic High Water-resistant Nylon wire
UF-B: Underground Feeder and Branch circuit
USE-2: Underground Service Entrance cable
VNTC: Vinyl Nylon Tray Cable
XHHW: Cross-linked High Heat- and Water-resistant cable
XLP or XLPE: Cross-Linked Polyethylene
The nomenclature of wire and cable is not a fully uniform system, and it can be a little confusing. (For instance, not every instance of the letter “W” denotes a weather-resistant cable—MTW stands for machine tool wire.) Hopefully, this list can be of use the next time you’re curious about what your wire or cable’s label means.
Type NM stands for nonmetallic sheathed. The cable consists of a factory assembly of two or more insulated conductors within an overall nonmetallic jacket. Additionally, there is an equipment-grounding conductor that is bare or has green insulation. Type NM is identified by the size of the conductors and number of them. For example, the very commonly used Type NM 12-2 cable contains two 12 American Wire Gauge (AWG) insulated conductors. In this numbering system the bare or green equipment-grounding conductor is not counted. Hence it is known as NM 12-2 w/ground.
Closely related cable types are Type NMC, which has a corrosion-resistant outer covering, and Type NMS, which contains, in addition to the usual power conductors, communications (signaling) wires. When the letter B is appended, as in NM-B cable, it indicates that the conductor insulation is rated for 90 degrees C.
In the United States and elsewhere that it is applicable, all non-utility and non-mine electrical installations must comply with the National Electrical Code (NEC). Additionally, there is the Canadian Electrical Code (CEC).
In NEC Chapter Three, specific articles pertain to the various types of wire that are recognized. Type NM is covered in Article 334. This section should be used as a guide for installing Type NM cable. Like each of the cable articles, it contains sections titled Uses Permitted and Uses Not Permitted. Broadly speaking, Type NM is permitted in one- and two-family dwellings and their attached or detached garages and storage buildings. Type NM is not to be used for services, outdoors, underground, embedded in concrete, or as data or fire alarm cable (in centrally-controlled fire alarm systems). In limited circumstances, Type NM can be used in multi-family dwellings such as apartment houses and in commercial buildings. This depends upon the type of construction, as outlined in Informational Annex E at the back of the Code book.
A very common mistake that is made is using Type NM for the wiring in commercial garages. There may be gray areas, but the basic idea is that NM should never be used where there may be vapors in the air from flammable liquids such as gasoline, or where flammable gases are used as fuels. A garage is sometimes built as part of a residential property where it eventually becomes a backyard facility. These operations, even if they are not for profit, where engines and gas tanks are removed and fuel systems are opened, are sure to contain at times vapors from flammable liquids. Acetylene and arc welders add to the mix. These buildings should not be wired in Type NM cable.
Article 334 also contains installation requirements for Type NM cable and they should be carefully followed. Minimum bending radius, securing and supporting intervals including distances from boxes (different for metal and plastic) and protection from physical damage must be observed.
As in any wiring, sizing out the cable, i.e. conductor ampacity, is based on the amount of current that the conductors will have to carry. This in turn derives from the over-current protection (breaker or fuse) rating. Also, ambient temperature and bundling of current-carrying conductors enter the picture. All of this is outlined in NEC Chapter Three.
All of these issues are covered in electricians’ licensing exams. In most jurisdictions, homeowners are permitted to do electrical work in their own homes. However, for fire and shock protection Code mandates should be followed faithfully.
By Guest Columnist David Herres