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Old 10-25-2013, 10:18 AM   #1
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High quality wire sources?

I will be completely re-wiring my U-Haul this winter. The 12v and 120v systems. I want to use high quality wire with tough insulation. Is there a specification or style or manufacturer of wire to look for? SAE or ASTM or other specification?

Certainly stranded copper of appropriate AWG for each application. I have used wire that has rather thin insulation that does not feel like it will hold up for a long time.

My auto mechanic said to go to a NAPA Auto Parts store and buy their wire. I checked on their web site but no wire seems to be available. I will stop at a local store to see what is available there.

So the question is, what are your preferred sources / brands / styles of high quality wire?

As always, all input is most appreciated.
Craig T.
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Old 10-25-2013, 10:34 AM   #2
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High quality wire is available at your local marine supplier. Very high strand count and strands are tinned. It is available by the foot which is handy especially on the very large size stuff. They are use to making cables for boaters and can crimp large cables for you saving you the headaches on the big size stuff that you may not have the tools for. Also 2 cord stranded cable used for high end audio cable have tough jackets and high strand counts but are not tinned like marine cable. I used alot of this from Radio shack but had to color code the clear jacket on the cable I used. There are red and black coded cable in this stuff if you want to buy it online.
My Casio label maker was also my friend during my rewire.
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Old 10-25-2013, 10:38 AM   #3
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Craig
I use marine wiring. I get two conductor stranded black and white jacketed wiring of the appropriate size. The jacketed wiring makes a much neater job. I get my from a local marine store or you can get it from West Marine.
Eddie
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Old 10-25-2013, 11:04 AM   #4
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I agree with the marine wire recommendation, specifically Ancor. As mentioned, it's tinned which makes it slightly more corrosion resistant, and I believe it has slightly more copper in it (than SAE types) making for slightly less resistance. As you asked for "quality" wire that would be my recommendation. I like their terminals.

The West Advisor: Marine Wire Terminal Tech Specs
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Old 10-25-2013, 11:09 AM   #5
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Qualaity Wire...

Since you're dealing with a vehicle wiring (your trailer is a vehicle) What ever brand of wire you use I make sure it meets SAE GLX standards. The wire itself is one thing, but more important is the insulation. GLX wire is made to take abrasions not sustain fire.
The insulation is referred to as cross-link which is a generic term of teflon. It takes a lot of heat to event soften this stuff.
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Old 10-25-2013, 11:18 AM   #6
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I Third or whatever it takes the Marine and Ancor brand in particular as the nicest that I have used.

I also get an equivalent here

Terminal Supply Company - Wire Terminal Connectors, Relays, Crimping Tools and Much More - Home

and it is not as nice feeling as the real deal but it is also a fraction of the price which goes a long way depending on how much you need for the job.
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Old 10-25-2013, 11:45 AM   #7
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Craig,
Some things I have learned over the years.... For the DC wiring The automotive wiring is tough enough and chemical resistant enough to do a good job. The Napa brand or Belden are quality. The strands are not tinned though, so a tight crimp or soldered connections are important. The smaller sizes are referred to as "primary wire". For the large sizes like main battery cables I have also used cables sold as welding leads with success. Welding leads use finer strands which conduct better and are more flexible. Recently I wired a car using some aerospace wire that had very tough teflon insulation and tinned strands. I had to tag all the wires for ID since it was all white. That is a disadvantage when trying to trace circuits in a large loom. I like to solder and shrink tube the terminals or any splices. The cheap non leverage crimp tools should be avoided. For the AC side I have no experience.
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Old 10-25-2013, 11:54 AM   #8
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After 40 plus years of being an electrician I can honestly say wire is wire is wire . The conductivity of the copper in any brand of wire is basically the same (UL & ANSI Standards) . Solid or stranded wire again is manufactured to UL standards , Type and thickness of insulation is again uniform and manufactured to UL standards . Wire varies by insulation types by use --temperature rating -sunlight resistance -wet or dry location -oil & gas resistance - underground use - installed as a cable or in a conduit system - voltage rating - subject to physical damage. MTW can be purchased with 37 strands to increase flexibility versus the standard 19 strand , but in a trailer the wire is not subject to constant flexing . When I would order wire for a job , sometimes a million feet at one time ,I was mainly concerned with cost which varied with copper prices ,cause wire is wire . We did have problems with wire from Korea but they had a limited exposure in the market and the wire did not meet ANSI standards .The NEC limits solid conductors to sizes #14 -#12-# 10 ---#8 or larger is stranded (General Code Rule but there are exceptions)
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Old 10-25-2013, 12:39 PM   #9
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In agreeing with Steve (I think I am anyway)........

Come On... we are not wiring the space shuttle here. My number one source for wire is partial rolls that I find at the local flea markets and garage sales. Yes, I look for a quality wire on a well labeled roll, and I don't buy the cheap coiled up wire usually offered for speakers and stuff.

I have probably bought 50 end rolls of wire (and a few full ones) over the years and have saved tons on $$$$ as well as usually using better quality and heavier wire than needed.

Added Note: The high price for scrap copper has cut into the availability of roll ends, it's quicker to sell it as scrap, but I buy it when I see it, not when I need it.



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Old 10-25-2013, 12:43 PM   #10
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NAPA has the jacketed two strand wire, 16ga, in 25 foot lengths. I used it in our Uhaul for some of the rewiring.
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Old 10-25-2013, 12:43 PM   #11
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Hmm. My sense is that wire in a trailer does see a fair amount of vibration during travel. I agree it’s not constant since you have to park it sometimes.

I note the qualifier with respect to wire meeting standards. I'm of the opinion that wire, say from Harbor Freight, has a good chance of not being to any US standard, whether they identify it as such or not. (I’m shocked! I just implied the Chinese might mislabel products.) Buying wire from a reputable manufacturer goes a long way, presumeably, of assuring at least a minimum level of quality. I suppose that’s the meaning of “standard”.

I use a lot of marine hardware on my trailer. The marine 12v plug, for example, doesn't do any different task than a P.O.S. one from J.C. Whitney but I'm reasonably confident any chrome won't start flaking off the marine one after 6 months. (Not that there aren't poor quality marine stuff out there.) So I assign some benefit to the “marine” adjective.

So one is left with whether there is any benefit, perceived or otherwise, to one type of rated wiring. Fortunately, that’s up to us to decide for ourselves. My winter hobby is woodworking and I use maple or oak. My buddy uses luan plywood or pine and his stuff does the same things as my projects.

To paraphrase one of Gallagher's routines, it's sometimes about "style".
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Old 10-25-2013, 01:08 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Steve L. View Post
Hmm. My sense is that wire in a trailer does see a fair amount of vibration during travel. I agree itís not constant since you have to park it sometimes.

I note the qualifier with respect to wire meeting standards. I'm of the opinion that wire, say from Harbor Freight, has a good chance of not being to any US standard, whether they identify it as such or not. (Iím shocked! I just implied the Chinese might mislabel products.) Buying wire from a reputable manufacturer goes a long way, presumeably, of assuring at least a minimum level of quality. I suppose thatís the meaning of ďstandardĒ.

I use a lot of marine hardware on my trailer. The marine 12v plug, for example, doesn't do any different task than a P.O.S. one from J.C. Whitney but I'm reasonably confident any chrome won't start flaking off the marine one after 6 months. (Not that there aren't poor quality marine stuff out there.) So I assign some benefit to the ďmarineĒ adjective.

So one is left with whether there is any benefit, perceived or otherwise, to one type of rated wiring. Fortunately, thatís up to us to decide for ourselves. My winter hobby is woodworking and I use maple or oak. My buddy uses luan plywood or pine and his stuff does the same things as my projects.
Wire designed for high flexibility is normally used on machinery where the same operation is done over and over 24 hours a day 7 days a week or on machinery like a rock crusher where the whole machine tries to tear itself to death . Electrical devices are labeled based on their use IE residential , commercial , hospital , marine ,hazardous location etc. and the cost rises accordingly . A residential grade 15 amp receptacle can be purchased for 37 cents each where a hospital grade receptacle is $8 each and a hazardous location receptacle is $200+ each but in most applications they are fed by the same type wire THHN/THWN or THW . Highly stranded wire is seldom used in construction because of the cost and little or no gain in its usage . With global sourcing it is sometimes difficult to judge the quality of a product . I bought cases of GE light bulbs that were made in Mexico and over half the lamps were dead shorted from the factory
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Old 10-25-2013, 01:25 PM   #13
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In my experience with RV's of all types, is wiring is the most frustrating thing in the whole industry. You can go from just enough to barely get by to all the way to space shuttle overkill. I haven't personally seen any trailer get by with a factory wiring job that last its life without some form of electrical wiring repair. Everyone cuts corners and sooner than later someone has to stick their head in a compartment someplace to fix something where the connection fell apart. My personal goal when I deal with wiring is to end up with a product that wont fail on my watch and the next owner can figure out what was done and not worry that it will fall apart on them eithor. This costs alot of time and money to get what I feel is right for me. Yes that means I use twice the amount of wire and too large a wire than necessary to boot, with more wire hold downs in one compartment than the Manufacturer used in the whole trailer. There are places that scotchlock connectors, wire nuts and staples just don't belong even though its easier to get the job out the door. My personal pet peeve is at the battery connection in these trailer where the industry thinks its OK to use balck and white wires at a 12 volt DC battery connection when everyone is trained in the automotive red and black world. To not even tag the wires is a crime. How much money and time has been wasted with this better idea.
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Old 10-25-2013, 01:40 PM   #14
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Bottom line in RV's, esp if it is more than a year old, "Never Trust Wire Colors".



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Old 10-25-2013, 01:46 PM   #15
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Interesting discussion. The only thing I will add is that I prefer tinned wire (which is getting hard to find locally) and I prefer to solder connections when appropriate. My area is electronics not electrical which may explain my bias. Raz
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Old 10-25-2013, 01:47 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by steve dunham View Post
After 40 plus years of being an electrician I can honestly say wire is wire is wire . The conductivity of the copper in any brand of wire is basically the same (UL & ANSI Standards) . Solid or stranded wire again is manufactured to UL standards , Type and thickness of insulation is again uniform and manufactured to UL standards . Wire varies by insulation types by use --temperature rating -sunlight resistance -wet or dry location -oil & gas resistance - underground use - installed as a cable or in a conduit system - voltage rating - subject to physical damage. MTW can be purchased with 37 strands to increase flexibility versus the standard 19 strand , but in a trailer the wire is not subject to constant flexing . When I would order wire for a job , sometimes a million feet at one time ,I was mainly concerned with cost which varied with copper prices ,cause wire is wire . We did have problems with wire from Korea but they had a limited exposure in the market and the wire did not meet ANSI standards .The NEC limits solid conductors to sizes #14 -#12-# 10 ---#8 or larger is stranded (General Code Rule but there are exceptions)

I agree wire is wire. However all insulation is not created the same. The automotive and trucking industries require SAE GLX or SLX insulated wire. Primarily because or resistance to abrasion and fire. You put cheap vinyl insulated wire in your trailer you're looking for a trailer fire. Wire that meets UL94 is better than not, but the best for your expensive trailer is SAE SXl, however, I believe GXL (Special purpose Cross Link, General purpose Cross Link) The difference is the thickness of the insulation.

Is your thousands of dollars trailer worth putting in cheap wire and risking fire or is it worth spending a bit more and reducing the risk of fire?
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Old 10-25-2013, 01:52 PM   #17
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Interesting discussion. The only thing I will add is that I prefer tinned wire (which is getting hard to find locally) and I prefer to soldered connections when appropriate. My area is electronics not electrical which may explain my bias. Raz
Hi Raz.
Having worked in trucking electronics I discovered that the soldering not a very good connection. If you look in automobiles and airplanes, even in today's computers you wont find soldered wires. What you will find is connectors attached to a PC board with the wires crimped.
However not all crimps are made equal. Here again a few extra bucks will save a lot of time and trouble. A hand crimper that requires you to get the crimp tight enough before the handles will release is worth the extra cost. Those cheap crimpers with wire strippers and cutters can cause a lot of trouble.
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Old 10-25-2013, 02:07 PM   #18
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Those cheap crimpers with wire strippers and cutters can cause a lot of trouble.
Well, we agree here. That's progress.
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Old 10-25-2013, 03:20 PM   #19
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Try buying 1/0 stranded cable in black and white insulation for a battery to inverter run. Best for those ignoring the rv insulation key to tag their battery leads positive and negative in the interest of those coming after.

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Old 10-25-2013, 03:55 PM   #20
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Try buying 1/0 stranded cable in black and white insulation for a battery to inverter run. Best for those ignoring the rv insulation key to tag their battery leads positive and negative in the interest of those coming after.

jack
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