Like the pipes that supply water, the wire that supplies our electricity is an unsung hero and perhaps one of the most intimidating things in our house. The electrical specialists at Moscow & Pullman Building Supply are here to help you be the hero of your remodel or fix. Our broad selection of in stock cables and wire cover most needs and our Ready-to-Order program is supplied with all the specialized cables and wires you may need.

To start you down the road of success, knowing the basic terminology and types of wire is essential. Choosing the right wire or cable is half the battle when installing new wiring. An electrical wire is a conductor, in residential settings, often made of copper or aluminum. Typically, these conductors are wrapped in plastic to insulate wires from each other.

Most commonly, nonmetallic (NM) cable is used in dry locations for residential construction. NM cable consists of one or more “hot” wires, a neutral, and a ground. The number of “hot” wires is noted in the name of the wire. For example, a 12/3 NM is comprised of 3) 12ga wires. This would indicate that there are two “hot” wires and one neutral.

Common residential wire gauges are:

– 14ga (15 amp circuits)

– 12ga (20 am circuits)

– 10ga (30 am circuits)

– 8ga (40 am circuits)

– 6ga ( 55 am circuits)

For cable that is going to be exposed to wet locations or buried, underground feeder or UF is the best choice. This wire is commonly used to power outdoor lighting fixtures and remote outlets. Similar to NM cable, UF is comprised of individually insulated wires. However, unlike the thin sheath of NM, UF sheathing is solid plastic that surrounds each wire.

Less common, but still used is THHN or THWN wire. These single strand insulated wires are often used in conduits or for short exposed runs inside the home. The letters indicate the properties of each wire insulation.

T: thermoplastic

H: heat resistant

HH: High heat resistant

W: wet locations

N: nylon coating for extra protection

For accent lighting, doorbells, or thermostats, low voltage wiring is the go to product. Low voltage wiring is designed to be used when the circuit requires 50 volts or less. Wire gauges commonly range from 22 to 12. Most low voltage wire options are insulated and sheathed in pairs.

Telephone and data wiring are types of low voltage wires that are made up of numerous wires sheathed together. Land line and Category 5 (Cat5) wires are comprised of eight wires wrapped together in four pairs.