We make choosing the right gauge of wire easy!!
This site is purely informational. We aim to create a place where people can find out what wire they need and how to use it. Please consult a qualified electrician before installing wire. Please email comments or suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org
How to Choose Speaker Wire
Speaker wires are usually rated in the 12 to 16 gauge range. The lower gauge number or #12 offers less resistance to electricity than the smaller #16.
Rule of Thumb
The further the signal travels, the larger wire you will need. For example, for distances less than 60 feet use 16 gauge, up to 200 feet use 14 gauge, and for long distances use 12 gauge.
This type of rule of thumb doesn’t take you very far. It is a brute force method used for people that don’t really want to think about what they are doing.
To figure out the size of wire needed, look at your equipment and add up the watts that will be used. Then divide the watts by 110 and you will get the amps. Or, your equipment will probably show the amps it is using right on it; twelve gauge wire can run 20 amps, 14 gauge wire can run 17 amps, and 16 gauge wire can run 13 amps. We are assuming, of course, that you are using the typical 110 volts that standard household outlets use. You should get wiring that will exceed your capacity by 20%.
Do I Really Need Good Wire
If you have an inexpensive system, more expensive wire will probably not make much sound difference. On the other hand, quality speaker wire is pretty cheap to begin with.
If you want primo sound quality and have a nice setup, it’s simply crazy to save a couple bucks on wire. You should get wire that is a little larger than you need. In addition, there are other things to look for.
What to Look for
High quality wire will have thicker sheathing to reduce interference with nearby wire. You should also look to see what the metal is made out of and how pure it is. The construction of the wire can also make a difference. For example, stranded wire doesn’t carry current quite as well as solid. However, most people use stranded because it is more flexible.
Wire in Walls
Speaker wire in walls must be specifically rated for such. That is so that a fire does not occur. Look for a UL rating of CL2 or CL2.
Do the Math
If you are really doing a custom high end job, nothing substitutes for sitting down and doing the math. Figure out just how much power you need, how it will be driven, and what kind of quality it will have. A quality design from the beginning will have a huge impact on the final result. Don't forget that it will never hurt to have a little too much capacity on all fronts.