What is American Wire Gauge (AWG) and how does it work

American Wire Gauge (AWG), also known as Gauge, is a common term you hear and see if you are using cables. Even if you don't use cables, you have probably come across this term because of its widespread application in networking and electrical wires.  In this article, we will look into what AWG is, what its types are, how you can calculate it, and more.

American Wire Gauge (AWG): Definition

American Wire Gauge - previously known as Brown and Sharp wire gauge is the standard measure of the size of a wire conductor. It is commonly referred to as “Gauge”.  You can use AWG to tell how much current a wire can carry.  If the gauge of a wire is large, it means it can carry smaller amperes of current and if it is smaller, the cable is capable of carrying greater amperes of current.  Although it is the standard measure of wire size in North America, it is also widely used around the globe. 

History of AWG: (Brief)

American Wire Gauge has been used since 1857. But it was only standardized in 1957 by Joseph Rogers Brown for Browne & Sharpe - a manufacturer of measuring instruments. 

Types of AWG

AWG is measured differently for different types of wire. For example, solid core wires are made out of a single piece of conductor metal which makes it easier to measure its size.  On the other hand, stranded core cables are a bunch of thinner wires bundled together to make one thicker wire. Measuring the AWG of stranded wires is, therefore, difficult. 

What is AWG in Ethernet cables?

Standard bulk ethernet cables such as Cat5/e, Cat6/a, etc come usually with 23 and 24 gauge. However, slim ethernet and flat ethernet cables are much thinner.  AWG in ethernet cables determines how good a cable will perform. The thicker the conductor, the better it will be at transmitting data. For instance, 23 AWG cat6 cables are thicker than 24 AWG cat5e cables, and hence better at data transfer and other ethernet applications. This is because of the application of the cross-sectional area of the cable. It is the primary factor that allows for more packets of data to be transferred in the form of current.  The gauge of various ethernet cables is provided in the next part. 

AWG of different ethernet cables

The gauge of ethernet cables remains the same for all ethernet cable categories. However, the overall diameter of the cable can vary for different cables because AWG is only the measure of the conductor.  Cat5e Cables: 24 AWG. Cat6 Cables: 23 AWG Cat6a Cables: 23 AWG You probably noticed that the gauge of Cat6 and 6a cables is the same. Now, you might ask how does the performance of these cables differs when the size of the conductors is the same.  The performance of different ethernet cables differs depending on the material of the conductor, shielding of the cable, length, etc. AWG is not the sole factor that determines how good a cable will or will not perform. 

Which Gauge Ethernet cables to use?

To answer this question, you need to decide what applications you will be using on your cables. If you are likely to cables for PoE connections, you better buy ethernet cables with a lower AWG. Because they are thicker and provide more real estate for signals to flow.  This Cat6a plenum is the best cable you can get for all high-performance ethernet applications. For moderate ethernet applications such as 100Base-T, you can have a perfect network connection with high-quality ethernet cables of 24 AWG such as this Cat5e Plenum.

How to find AWG of ethernet cables?

Finding the gauge of ethernet cables is simple. It is mentioned prominently on all cables because it is an important specification. A user can tell a lot about the cable from its AWG.    For instance, you can figure out if the cable is compatible with your network from the size of its conductors.  You can also find out if the cable can be fed into the types of patch panels you will get. Moreover, the gauge of an ethernet cable can tell people how much power or signals it can carry, which ultimately prevents safety hazards. If you use the wrong cable for high-capacity signal transmission, it can catch fire so you better choose the right cable with due consideration to its gauge.

American Wire Gauge in a nutshell

In short, AWG is the measure of the size of a cable conductor. It is used to determine the number of signals a cable can carry. It is, however, a bit counterintuitive - the larger the AWG the smaller the thinner the conductor, and vice versa. 

Why NewYork Cables

New York Cables is an industry leader manufacturing high-quality ethernet cables. All of our bulk ethernet cables and accessories exceed all industry standards such as FCC, CE, CSE, ISO/IES. For instance, the bandwidth capabilities as per TIA standards for Cat5e cable is 100 MHz but our Cat5e comes with 350 MHz. The same goes for our Cat6 and Cat6a ethernet cables. Also, our ethernet cables are RoHS compliant.  Get in touch now at sales@newyorkcables.com. We offer free shipping orders above $299.99 and our legendary 10-year warranty (Terms and Conditions apply) on all of our ethernet cables.