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Old 02-01-2010, 11:33 PM
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Wire question

Can the electrical thhn stranded wire sold through home depot or lowes be used in an automotive application? Not the solid or romex type, but the braided copper wire. It's a heck of a lot cheaper then going to an auto parts store.

thanks

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Old 02-02-2010, 12:37 AM
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Actually I found a good selection of wire at Ace Hardware,when I did a rewire and a better color selection and price since you can buy by the foot and it was USA made,a lot of the connectors from the Auto chain stores are Chinese garbage,I found USA made 3M connectors at Wal-Mart.
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Old 02-02-2010, 03:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NWayne
Can the electrical thhn stranded wire sold through home depot or lowes be used in an automotive application? Not the solid or romex type, but the braided copper wire. It's a heck of a lot cheaper then going to an auto parts store.

thanks
It will work just fine, BUT you may not want to use it where it will be exposed to extreme temperatures. That wire has a temperature rating that could be exceeded if used in close proximity to an exhaust manifold, etc.
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Old 02-02-2010, 05:12 AM
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OEM automotive wire has a more durable coating than the stuff you buy at the hardware store, which is why the original wiring seems to last so long. However, that doesn't mean the wiring from Lowes won't work for many applications.

If you are wiring inside the passenger compartment, or very far away from heat in the engine compartment, then any good quality wiring of the right size should work. If you are wiring near the engine or any other source of heat, I would use wiring like they sell at this link.

http://www.kayjayco.com/catPWireSelect.htm

Bruce
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Old 02-02-2010, 06:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 75gmck25
OEM automotive wire has a more durable coating than the stuff you buy at the hardware store, which is why the original wiring seems to last so long. However, that doesn't mean the wiring from Lowes won't work for many applications.

If you are wiring inside the passenger compartment, or very far away from heat in the engine compartment, then any good quality wiring of the right size should work. If you are wiring near the engine or any other source of heat, I would use wiring like they sell at this link.

http://www.kayjayco.com/catPWireSelect.htm

Bruce
Bruce is correct except for one small point.THHN wire was originally designed to be used in a industrial application ,such as control cabinets and relay cabinets. Most wire of this type has a thin clear coating over the color jacket and this clear coat does deteriorate and turn a brownish color if exposed to light and even moderate heat (such as cars heating system in the interior of a car)it becomes brittle and flakes off.Also it is not oil resistant and it is hard to form.I would not use this wire in my car but wire as Bruce describes in his post.
My .01 (inflation )
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Old 02-02-2010, 07:15 AM
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I'm putting the battery in the trunk and Home depot has some 1/0 gauge cable for solar installations for about $1.65 ft, that's why I'm asking.

Thanks
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Old 02-02-2010, 07:38 AM
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house & commercial wire

Thhn and other types of stranded wire is rated to be used in situations where the wire does not move during use, Automotive wire uses much finer stranded wire that allows many more movement cycles before wire fatigue and breaking of the strands. A good example is the short wire in a flat head Ford distributor that moves each time the dist timing advances and retards.. That wire is made from wire strands about the size of dog hair. A lot of new cars use a lot of small solid wires in their situations where the wires do not move after installations. Stranded house-com wire would work in situations where it doesn't move. e.g. tail lights along the frame, inside the floor etc. Engine wiring should use automotive wire. I use welder cable of the appropriate size to run from the battery to large loads. I have a Tommy lift tailgate lift. And an elect powered dump and a power lead from the 2 batteries under the hood to the back of my truck to run the winches on the trailers.
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Old 02-02-2010, 09:56 AM
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I would not use it for the above mentioned concerns plus one more. THHN wire and wire not ment for automotive use also does not have the level of resistance to chafing automotive wire has. Don't cheap out on this very important application.

Vince
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Old 02-02-2010, 10:32 AM
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You might find that your car parts place is about as cheap. I had to buy more 1/0 last spring from my local guy and if I recall, it was ~$27 for 20 feet. The Lowe's/HD wire is great stuff for a home installation, but is tough to work with plus really doesn't do well out in the elements. I used some 12ga THHN from HD to rewire a car haul trailer - it didn't last and I had to redo it a couple years later with a NAPA Balkamp trailer light 'kit'.

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Old 02-02-2010, 10:54 AM
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to compensate for the extremely long cable length added ohm resistance/voltage drop/amps lost,,,you want the #1 wire that has the maximum number of conductor strands in the bundle...

or use a elcheapo #0 wire with less strands...

the energy flow is along the surface of the conductor so you want as much strand surface area as possible...

local wire in all sizes I have looked at lately is all junk (minumum strands count possible)....

(LOL,,,anybody got about 5' of excellent fine strand #8,,,it's been on my shopping list forever,,,using 2 #10's till I find some!)

edit:
if the cable is going to run under the car very wise to protect it with sheet metal shields/metal flex conduit cover/whatever from crap thrown up under the car...

Last edited by red65mustang; 02-02-2010 at 11:02 AM.
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Old 02-02-2010, 04:04 PM
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If you choose to go to your local auto parts store be very careful that you don't buy wire with PVC insulation. If they can't tell you what the insulation is pass on it. Most wire I have found in the local auto parts stores is PVC insulated and is from China . PVC has a very low resistance to heat. The above reply by red65 is right on the money as far as getting the cable with the maximum number of strands. The wire with more strands will carry more current. The wire with more strands has far more surface area and electricity travels on the surface of the wires

Vince
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Old 02-02-2010, 04:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 302 Z28
If you choose to go to your local auto parts store be very careful that you don't buy wire with PVC insulation. If they can't tell you what the insulation is pass on it. Most wire I have found in the local auto parts stores is PVC insulated and is from China . PVC has a very low resistance to heat. The above reply by red65 is right on the money as far as getting the cable with the maximum number of strands. The wire with more strands will carry more current. The wire with more strands has far more surface area and electricity travels on the surface of the wires

Vince
Vince - so far the NAPA wire still says made in USA but I believe it has PVC insulation - but is still a lot better for general automotive use then the THHN. Advance/Auto Zone is Chinese crap

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Old 02-02-2010, 06:08 PM
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Check out marine wire fine stranded and tined for more amperage. Very chafe resistant and flexible. The finer the strand the less loss over a longer run.

Also check your local fab shop for welding leads.
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Old 02-02-2010, 06:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 302 Z28
If you choose to go to your local auto parts store be very careful that you don't buy wire with PVC insulation. If they can't tell you what the insulation is pass on it. Most wire I have found in the local auto parts stores is PVC insulated and is from China . PVC has a very low resistance to heat. The above reply by red65 is right on the money as far as getting the cable with the maximum number of strands. The wire with more strands will carry more current. The wire with more strands has far more surface area and electricity travels on the surface of the wires

Vince
Alternating current, especially at higher frequencies does indeed tend to flow on, and near the surface of the conductors. However, direct current tends to flow throughout the conductor, rather than on/near the conductor surface. I do agree that the wire with more strands, and non-PVC type would certainly be preferable, but I've used THHN/THWN wire in automotive applications many times, and have never had a problem with it.
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Old 02-03-2010, 11:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by red65mustang
to compensate for the extremely long cable length added ohm resistance/voltage drop/amps lost,,,you want the #1 wire that has the maximum number of conductor strands in the bundle...

or use a elcheapo #0 wire with less strands...

the energy flow is along the surface of the conductor so you want as much strand surface area as possible...

local wire in all sizes I have looked at lately is all junk (minumum strands count possible)....

(LOL,,,anybody got about 5' of excellent fine strand #8,,,it's been on my shopping list forever,,,using 2 #10's till I find some!

edit:
if the cable is going to run under the car very wise to protect it with sheet metal shields/metal flex conduit cover/whatever from crap thrown up under the car...
lolz................
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Last edited by poncho62; 02-03-2010 at 06:31 PM. Reason: Advertising. Please see: commercial posting guidelines.
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