7 Electrical Wire Attributes to Consider Before Buying

1. Copper Price

Copper is a commodity on the NYSE which means the price goes up and down daily. The price of copper electrical wire changes daily with the NYSE price which means you can plan your purchasing times. Similar to buying real estate when prices are down, it’s a good idea to buy electrical wire when prices are down as well.

2. Voltage

Hook up wire is typically rated for 300 and 600 volts while portable cord products are rated for 600 and 2000 volts for different applications. Remember to check the voltage of the application and make sure it matches your cable selection. Get a cable with higher voltage capabilities means it will be more expensive.


AMPS, or Amperes, are calculated through an equation that meets the NEC or National Electric Code. Not only do you need to know the calculation but you also need to know if it meets NEC approvals. Speak to an electrician and they will let you know what AWG size electrical wire you need based on the amount of voltage and a few other factors.

4. Temperature

Most building wire is rated for 90°C to cover 90% of the home and building temperature ratings. However, some types of hook-up wire increase in temperature for applications that require the wires to sit in high heat. Standard PVC wire is rated at 105°C and PTFE wire is rated for 200°C. Buying the wrong electrical wire could limit the longevity of the insulation.

5. Protection

The protection lies in the jacket covering the copper conductors. Romex® electrical wire is manufactured with less protection, but it’s priced right for indoor applications. UFB cable has a very strong outer jacket that covers each conductor individually so that it can be installed directly in the ground without conduit.

6. Approvals

Approvals make the inspectors happy because there is a third party that double checks the voltage, temperature and protection capabilities. Those third party approvers are UL (America), CSA (Canada), CE (Europe), MSHA (Safety) and RoHS (Lead Free). These approvals insure inspectors that your electrical wire is manufactured to a standard and double checked by a third party.

7. Flexibility

Solid, stranded and flexible. If an 8 AWG wire has one strand it’s less flexible than an 8 AWG wire with 19 strands. A flexible 8 AWG wire would have 133 strands. Therefore, as long as you’re comparing the same AWG wire then more stranding is equivalent to more flexible. The jacket insulation can also help with flexibility because rubber insulation is more flexible than PVC insulation. Typically, more flexible cables are more expensive because the stranding and insulation are a bit more complicated.