If you’re wiring a new gadget or have discovered a weird wire stapled to the baseboard, you might need a low voltage wire for your smaller devices. While many of your household appliances operate on quite high voltage, this is not the case for all of them. Some of the most basic gadgets, such as doorbells and garage door openers, require less electricity to work. So, it’s sometimes unnecessary to provide these devices with full voltage, and in many circumstances using low voltage lines is even safer.
Low voltage wires are a simple and safe method to power several gadgets or appliances in your house. While not all devices can operate on low voltage, those that can benefit from the lower costs and safer performance. To help you choose the ideal product, we’ve put together some of the top-rated low voltage wires of 2023 that you should have in your home.
A low voltage wire, sometimes known as a line voltage wire, is a wire that doesn’t use the same voltage as conventional wires seen at home. Some devices work great with the voltage in your home, while others may demand less. Because not all electronic equipment needs the same to work, a low voltage wire limits the voltage supplied to the lights or other devices, saving you a lot of money on energy bills.
Benefits of Low Voltage Wires
Ideal for low voltage devices
Many gadgets are designed to work exclusively at low voltage. This varies depending on the device, but in general, devices that run on low voltage need a low voltage cable connection to minimize the chances of short circuits and other electrical hazards.
Less expensive to operate
It’s worth noting that low voltage wiring is actually less expensive in the long run. Because they’re low voltage, you can save a lot of money, which you may use to buy other items or save up for things you’ve been wanting.
Downsides of Using Low Voltage Wires
Won’t power standard appliances
Appliances that operate on ordinary line voltage are unlikely to operate on low voltage cables. This is due to the low voltage being too unstable and not providing enough power for the gadget to function properly. It’s especially risky when using older devices since the motors and components might overheat when exposed to low voltage, causing damage and overheating.
That scenario, thankfully, won’t occur with new appliances. Almost every contemporary appliance employs an electric motor with components that detect when the voltage is too low. If the voltage falls below a certain level, the gadget will simply stop working. Although it’s much safer than the previous scenario, you’re still left with a powerless gadget until you connect it to a standard line voltage outlet.
More costly to purchase
Despite being less expensive to use, low voltage cables are more expensive to purchase. This is also true for low-voltage appliances and equipment; they are often more expensive than those that don’t operate on low voltage. While you will save money in the long term, you will have to invest a little more money to get things going.
Different Types of Low Voltage Wires
Indoor low voltage wire
An indoor low voltage wire isn’t designed to withstand extreme weather conditions. Having said that, it provides excellent insulation and looks good even when exposed. They have a higher-quality appearance and some come in a white tint that integrates nicely with most walls.
Indoor low voltage cables are simple to install and look excellent when done correctly. These cables may help you set up your gadgets properly without messing with the overall setting of your house as long as you know what you’re doing.
Outdoor low voltage wire
Outdoor low-voltage cables are far more durable than indoor lines. They are typically buried underground for lighting and other uses, exposing the wires to a significant amount of water and moisture. Fortunately, outdoor low voltage wires are water and weather-resistant, so nothing will short-circuit or be destroyed just because it’s raining.
How to Quickly Identify Low Voltage Wires
Some features differentiate low-voltage wire from wiring for higher voltage devices. The low-voltage wire is sometimes, but not always, composed of narrow gauge wires. It is sometimes buried in close contact with the dirt or stapled directly to exposed areas.
Low-voltage wire often comes with a thinner material sheath or jacket. A 12-gauge wire, for example, is used for both 120V household devices and lower voltage landscape lighting. The sheathing, however, differs — you need robust PVC sheathing 19 mils thick for domestic current and thinner, more malleable vinyl sheathing for landscape wire.
A low-voltage wire is typically identifiable by stamps on the side of the sheathing or jacket, which is a stronger sign but still not conclusive. Phone wire may be marked with “CAT 3 24 AWG” as well as other phrases and numbers. Alternatively, a network cable may be imprinted with “CAT 6 RoHS CM 24 AWG” (RoHS means that the wire is free of lead and other hazardous substances).
Safety Risks of Low Voltage Wires
While it’s not usually a safety hazard, if you don’t handle it properly, low voltage wiring can do some harm.
For one, low-voltage wires frequently interconnect with devices that carry higher voltages. Low-voltage wire can also carry enough power to spark an electric arc. A single spark in contact with flammable or combustible liquids, solids, or gasses can cause an explosion or a fire. Do-it-yourselfers, electricians, and anybody else dealing with low-voltage wire should proceed with caution and treat it as if it were higher-powered cabling.
Available in lengths of 50, 100, and 200 feet, the Firmerst Low Voltage Wire is great for putting up outdoor lights and other low voltage appliances. Thanks to its durable build and 14/2 gauge size, this wire is compatible with a range of low voltage applications outdoors. Further, this material lends this wire the much-needed flexibility to hook it up to solar panels, doorbells, patio lights, and path lights.
Because of its weather-resistant features, the low voltage wire is ideal for direct burial and won’t tangle or crack due to abrupt temperature fluctuations. Though it’s not the best-looking wire available, it comes with a reasonable build quality at an affordable price, making it a great middle-ground pick. Best of all, it is compliant with Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) and is rated to withstand high temperatures of up to 140° Fahrenheit.
The Southwire Low Voltage Wire is an easy-to-install, high-quality solution to your outdoor wiring needs. This cable works perfectly for both concealed and exposed wiring and is generally used for outdoor lights. Overall, it efficiently simplifies the installation process and saves you the labor and material cost while creating a safer electrical connection.
Wrapped in a vinyl jacket, this copper low voltage wire offers you long-lasting durability and can withstand extended sun exposure without showing any signs of wear and tear. Best of all, it is tangle-free and won’t crack even when exposed to higher temperatures or get hard in the snow.
The basic light bulb is one of the most regularly used appliances that takes very little electricity to run. Thankfully, the Wirefy Low Voltage Wire is ideal for light bulbs — and most electric lights in general — because they don’t require a lot of voltage to work. This wire is simple to install and ideal for placing lights outdoors; with the correct equipment, you can use this wire on any type of light, and with a lifetime warranty, you’re assured to have working wires or your money back.
Additionally, this low voltage wire is extremely flexible so you can easily cut, twist, or fold it. The heavy-duty bare copper wire that’s been coated with flexible rubber withstands direct sunlight, moisture, and abrasion. Most importantly, you can use it with complete peace of mind because this wire is Underwriters Laboratories listed and complies with or exceeds safety standards.
If you don’t want to mess with your outdoor aesthetic, the Zonegrace Low Voltage Wire is for you. This copper burial wire is made of heavy-duty, industrial-grade material that makes it extremely resistant to all sorts of weather conditions. It lasts a lifetime, ensuring that your appliances and devices remain powered reliably for months, and even years, without needing a replacement. Even better, the wire is enclosed in a heavyweight jacket that’s extremely flexible for quicker, tangle-free installation.
Thanks to its solid construction, you won’t need to dig up and do repairs because this wire won’t corrode or malfunction, no matter how harsh the weather is. With this wire installed, you get a complete package because it goes through a series of inspections to ensure that it meets or exceeds safety standards.
If you feel like your outdoor space isn’t well-lit, the Iron Forge Low Voltage Wire is ideal for adding lights somewhere along the way. This cable is specifically designed to withstand all weather conditions, so you can remain fully confident that your outdoor lighting will just work fine come rain or shine. Meanwhile, the water-resistant build keeps your wire safe from any moisture damage, preventing short circuits and electrical shocks.
Because the manufacturer offers a lifetime replacement warranty, you can always get a replacement for a worn-out cable, which rarely happens. Even more, this low voltage wire stays flexible and won’t tangle, crack, or become hard even if exposed to -40°F or +140°F temperatures. And as the cherry on top, the vinyl coating keeps it intact, making it a good choice for direct burial or landscaping.
ETL listed and CSA certified
Can withstand a maximum of 30 volts
Available in different lengths and gauges
A bit on the expensive side
People Also Asked
Q: Where can I use low voltage wires?
A: You can use low voltage wires to power up certain lights, doorbells, garage door openers, and other basic devices. Low voltage cables also make a great choice for landscaping because they usually come with a vinyl coating that offers moisture protection.
Q: Do I need a low-voltage wire for light bulbs?
A: While not all light bulbs need low voltage wires, you can find some cost-efficient options as well. Many light bulbs operate on line voltage, which is the voltage supplied by your power outlet.
Q: Why should I get low voltage cables?
A: While not strictly essential, they are safer and less expensive to own than standard line voltage cables. If you want to install patio or path lights or you’re tired of replacing your doorbell every few weeks, a low voltage cable is the right solution for you.
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