Differences Between The Automotive Wire And House Wire: The Ultimate Guide

In this article, we will examine some key differences between automotive and house wires.

The way electrical systems work can sometimes be very confusing for some. Therefore, you must understand the various aspects of both automotive and house wires.

Doing so will allow you to diagnose issues, plan for renovations in your home, complete any repairs, and ensure that your wiring is up to code. 

The Basics of Home Electrical Wire

The following are some basic electrical wires terms that can make your hardware shopping smoother.

Cable vs. Wire

People often use the words ‘cable’ and ‘wire’ interchangeably because they think they are the same thing, which is not the case at all. 

An electrical wire, any material capable of conducting electricity, is the individual conductor inside a jacket and can be bare or insulated.

A cable combines two or more wires assembled using a single jacket. 

Cable-Sheath Color Coding

The external sheathing of cables uses a color-coded system that tells users the size of the wires within the cable and the amperage.

The followings are the colors and their respective size and amperage:

  • Black: 8 or 6-gauge wire, 45 or 60-amp circuits
  • Orange: 10-gauge wire, 30-amp circuit
  • Yellow: 12-gauge wire, 20-amp circuit
  • White: 14-gauge wire, 15-amp circuit
  • Gray: UF or underground feeder cables.
Various Wire Colors

Various Wire Colors

Wire Color Coding

Wire color coding applied with all conductors and home electrical wires is typically limited to the following:

  • White: It is a neutral color responsible for completing a circuit by returning the current to a panel.
  • Black/Red: These colors represent the hot wires that carry electrical current from a panel to a device, an appliance, a light fixture, a switch, or a receptacle.
  • Bare/Green: This color coding represents ground wires that come into play when there is a ground fault. They help establish a path for the current so that n return to a home’s circuit breaker, blows a fuse, and cuts off power.

There are also colors for wires, but the ones mentioned above are the most common in your home.


Cables and wires use a labeling format to indicate the wire’s material, size, the number of cables within the cable, the kind of insulation, and various other special ratings. 

Wire Size

Wire size refers to the diameter of a conductor in a wire and is set by the American Wire Gauge system.

All in all, the smaller a wire is, the larger the gauge. 

Another important element to remember is that the size of the wires you pick has to match the amperage of the circuit.

If they don’t, the possibility of short circuits and wires increases significantly. 

Stranded Wire vs. Solid

You will require a solid wire to push a wire through a conduit.

On the other hand, pulling it through a conduit will require a stranded wire since it is more flexible and can get to those hard-to-reach areas or around corners. 

What Are The Properties Of Vehicle Wires?

The following are some of the properties of vehicle wires. 

Wire Size

A primary aspect of vehicle wiring is size because the amount of current it can carry is directly related to its thickness and length.

Signal wires, like those from a sensor to a computer, don’t need to be very big since the amperage is fairly low.

On the other hand, major power applications like alternators and electric motors require bigger wires to support the load.

Also, there is a voltage drop since any time you run wires; you lose a certain amount.

You can solve this problem by using bigger gauge wires.

The further the distance from the source, the greater the diameter should be. 

Wire Material

The material used to make wires is just as important as its gauge.

You will find most wires use copper, which is an ideal material for various electrical applications.

However, despite all of its advantages in electricity, copper tends to be very expensive. 

Some of the other possible alternatives include copper-clad aluminum and standard aluminum.

These materials conduct about 40% less electricity than their copper counterparts.

Therefore, if you decide to use them, you must get larger wiring to heat more.

Aluminum is also known to corrode easily, which is an aspect that you should keep in mind when making your decision.


There is a direct correlation between the length of the wire and its overall electrical resistance.

The longer a wire is, the greater the resistance it will encounter, leading to energy loss.


Automotive wires are typically copied to ensure they remain organized, and each goes to its assigned destination.

Nonetheless, the way they are packed can, at times, affect their capability to dissipate heat effectively.

A wire bundle containing various wires can only carry a fraction of the current that it would carry if there is just a single wire in the bundle.  

Bundled Wires

Wire colors

Wire harnesses for vehicles come in a range of colors based on their function, allowing technicians to distinguish the purpose of each one whenever they are conducting repairs.

You must also read your vehicle’s electrical diagram in the service manual to know more about the functions of each wire color. 

The Special Design of High Voltage Harness for Vehicles

The car’s high-voltage cable is most likely composed of multiple thin copper wires.

This is because automotive wires are flexible and have several fine wire strands, so they can easily bend and break if flexed constantly. 

The other thing about automotive wires is that they can withstand the rated voltage of 300 to 600 volts and can handle greater temperatures with increased conductivity levels. 

Whenever the conductor has an alternating magnetic field or current, a skin effect usually will lead to the current being concentrated in that section.

If the alternating current frequency is high, the skin effect will be more dominant.

You have to remember that the high voltage platform of a new energy car is approximately 300 to 400 volts and has a frequency potential of kHz, which is 10x higher than that of a home appliance.

As a result, the high-voltage wiring harness needs to have a reduced core area.

Vehicle High Voltage Wiring Harness with Shielding Layer

Professionals normally use shielded high-voltage cables to decrease the impact of ElectroMagnetic Interference (EMI) and RF Interference (RFI) on the automotive system.

These shielding covers of the high-voltage harness of the controller, motor interface, and battery are connected to the motor controller housing via the crimping structure, for example, the plug-in, which is then connected to the body ground.

Types of Electrical Wire in a Home

Several kinds of cable and wiring are found throughout people’s homes and around them.

Some of these are highlighted in the information below:

Non-Metallic Cable

Homes built after the mid-1960s tend to have the same kind of wiring, non-metallic or NM.

There is also the Romex cable, which happens to be the most popular brand name for this type of electrical wiring.

The NM cable typically has three or more conductors wrapped in a flexible plastic jacket called sheathing.

You will find a ground, hot, and neutral wire in a single NM cable. 

The NM cable is often for dry, interior household wiring, including switches, appliances, outlets, and light fixtures. 

Armored Cable

Armored cables use flexible metallic sheathing that offers additional protection for the internal conductors.

Also known as BX, AC cannot be in residential or commercial constructions that exceed 3 floors, just like its NM counterparts.

Armored Wire

Armored Wire

Underground Feeder Cable

You will need an Underground Feeder cable whenever you run a wire to outdoor projects or underground.

It is non-metallic and can be buried underneath the ground without any circuit.

The other thing is that just like the NM cable, the UF contains three wires: hot, neutral, and ground.

Underground Feeder Cable

Underground Feeder Cable

Metal-Clad Cable

This cable typically runs through unfinished areas, such as the basement, where physical damage can occur. 

Low-Voltage Wiring

You can use this kind of house electrical wire for items that don’t need a lot of power, like landscape lighting, doorbells, and most thermostats.

Ranging in sizes of 12 to 22- gauge, they are typically covered in cable sheathing or insulation.

Phone and Data Wire

The type of wire used for phone and data is Category 5, also known as Cat 5, which is eight wires wrapped together to make four pairs.

They also tend to be very efficient for phone and data transmission.

Data Wire

Data Wire

Automotive Wire Types

Below are the various types of automotive wires.

Differences Between The Automotive Wire And House Wire: Automotive Primary Wire

Primary wiring in automotive applications comes in various configurations, is ideal for general-purpose applications, and offers a perfect solution for harsh environments or hard-to-reach locations.

Using wires, different constructions can fulfill some of the most demanding application requirements.

Differences Between The Automotive Wire And House Wire: Hookup Automotive Wire

It is a popular type of automotive hookup, the most common being the TEW UL1015/Thermoplastic Elastomer Wire or Motor Wire.

It is used for internal wiring applications of different appliances and HVAC equipment. 

Differences Between The Automotive Wire And House Wire: Battery Cable (SGT or SGX)

Battery cables are another popular automotive wiring that can distribute power throughout a vehicle’s electrical system.

They are also larger and heavier to reduce the chances of corrosion. 

Differences Between The Automotive Wire And House Wire: Speaker Wire 

It is a pair of stranded wires designed for audio applications.

It carries sound from a stereo receiver to the speakers and is meant for low-voltage use.

As a result, it should never be used to carry loads.

Differences Between The Automotive Wire And House Wire: Trailer Wire

It is usually a primary or GPT wire configured and colored for basic trailer applications, which can be Brown, Yellow, Green, or White based on the various lighting functions. 


Regarding home and vehicle wiring harnesses, it is important to select the proper wire for voltage and current and not necessarily make your decision based on thickness.

In addition, the demanding conditions of use, the higher the required standards of automotive high voltage harnesses.

In case of any queries, feel free to contact Cloom Tech.

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