Materials Used to Make Electrical Wire

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Electrical cables are made of one or more metal wires wrapped in an insulator.
Electrical cables are made of one or more metal wires wrapped in an insulator. (Image: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Electrical power is delivered to houses and outlets in the house with electrical wiring. These electrical wires are made from metal and insulators, and the type of wire impacts the quality of the system.

Wire

The main component of electrical wire is the metal which conducts the electricity. Most modern electrical wire is made from copper because it has high conductivity and flexibility. During copper shortages and as a lower-cost alternative, the less conductive aluminum or copper-plated aluminum was used in electrical wires. However, the most common metal found in electrical wires is copper.

Copper is the most common metal in electrical wires.
Copper is the most common metal in electrical wires. (Image: Adam Crowley/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Insulators

Because the current runs along the outside of copper wires, they need to be insulated from other wires and conductive surfaces. In the past, rubber was used to insulate the copper, but modern polymers are preferred now. Some insulators used for electrical wires include polyvinyl chloride (PVC), Teflon and polyethylene.

Different synthetic materials are used to insulate electrical wires.
Different synthetic materials are used to insulate electrical wires. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Cables

Sometimes multiple wires are bundled together in a cable. These individual insulated wires are wrapped or braided, and sometimes they are wrapped in a secondary casing called shielding to protect them from electromagnetic interference or provide further insulation.

Cables contain several different wires wrapped together in an insulator.
Cables contain several different wires wrapped together in an insulator. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

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