As two common conductor types used in various electrical applications, the differences between stranded and solid wires are listed below:
- Solid Wire: consists of a single, continuous piece of metal (usually copper or aluminum)with a uniform cross-sectional shape and no breaks, but is relatively inflexible.
- Stranded Wire: made by twisting or braiding multiple smaller wires. Multiple strands make it more flexible than solid wire, and it’s ideal for applications that require frequent bending or movement, like automotive wiring.
- Solid electrical wires generally have a slightly better electrical conductivity than stranded electrical wires of the same gauge since there are no junctions between strands.
- Solid Wire: is more durable in applications that are not subject to frequent bending, twisting, or vibration because they do not have individual strands moving or rubbing against each other and are less prone to mechanical wear and tear
- Stranded Wire: is more durable in applications involving frequent bending or vibration because the individual strands can move independently of each other, reducing the risk of wire fatigue and breakage due to repetitive motion.
- Solid Wire: Solid wires are typically easier to terminate using screw terminals or crimp connectors because they maintain their shape and are less likely to become loose during installation.
- Stranded Wire: Stranded wires can be a bit more challenging to terminate, especially in applications requiring precise connections, but they are excellent for applications where flexibility is crucial.
- Solid Wire: is generally less expensive to manufacture than stranding wire.
- Stranded Wire: slightly more expensive due to the additional manufacturing processes required to create the strands and twist or braid them together.
In summary, solid conductors are suitable for stationary or less flexible applications where conductivity and cost are important, while stranded conductors are used in applications where flexibility, durability, and resistance to mechanical stress are required. However, solid vs stranded wire are generally interchangeable in electrical installations, provided that they meet the electrical code and safety requirements of the specific application and that terminations are properly matched to the wire type.