In the early days of home audio, speakers were frequently linked using simple electrical wires or “lamp cord.” Perhaps you’ve observed that speaker wire resembles electrical wire in appearance. For example, speaker wire can be used as the power cable for a lamp or other low-power electrical equipment. Is it possible to use speaker wire for electrical power equipment, electronics, and appliances? Also, how much would they be able to handle? Can they withstand 12 volts in particular?
Speaker wire can be used for 12v electricity. The wire gauge is the only consideration. Different gauges allow for lower or higher amperes, which, when multiplied by volts (in our instance 12v), gives you the load demand (watts) that the electrical or appliance or device should be.
This article will make you feel happy to determine if the speaker wire reels you have stockpiled in the garage can be used as electrical wire.
We’ll go through the wire gauge and how much it correlates to amperage as we examine at speaker wire in depth. Then we’ll put it all together and see if you can run 12v through speaker wire and what else you could do with it.
Is it possible to power a 12v device with a speaker wire?
Yes, in a nutshell, and yes, in a nutshell, depending on a few variables. When home audio equipment was first invented, standard electrical wire (used to connect your lamp) was utilized to connect your speakers to your amplifier.
Line voltage is used in ceiling fixtures, table lamps, and similar items. Electrical equipment with transmitters has a voltage drop (120 volts is converted to 12 volts); therefore, you can use “speaker wire” to run 12-volt power.
Some speaker wire is only suitable for low-power electrical device in low-amperage situations. However, you should be aware that electrical and speaker wire exists in various grades. We have the lower-cost speaker wire and the higher-cost speaker wire.
Is there a difference between speaker wire and electrical wire?
Electrical wire and speaker wire typically are the same thing, as they are both constructed of the same insulation and wire components. The wire used for electrical connections between speakers and amplifier sources is a speaker cable. Capacitance, resistance, and inductance are the three most critical electrical qualities.
When you go to the nearest hardware store to buy electrical wire for making DIY lamps and power cords, you’ll notice that it’s comprised of two insulated wires joined side by side in a flat figure-eight shape.
If you look at speaker wires in a hardware or department store, you’ll notice that they’re incredibly similar. The only difference is that the speaker wire will have transparent outer insulation. In contrast, the electrical wire will be available in various shades (ideally suited to remember which wire is which). As a result, they can be used interchangeably in multiple situations.
Taking wire gauge into consideration when considering speaker wire
The American Wire Gauge system measures wire sizes. The diameter of a wire is used to determine its gauge. The wire gauge determines how much electrical current the wire can safely carry. Wire gauge will also influence the resistance value and the thickness of the wire.
It’s worth noting that the higher the wire gauge, the thinner the wire is, and the lower the gauge, the thicker the wire is. Larger gauges are better for products that demand more power, such as toasters or blenders, whereas higher gauges are preferable for smaller quantities of electricity.
Speaker wire is usually 12 to 16 gauges thick, making it thin. So 16 gauge speaker wire will be utilized in most audio applications, unless the wire needs to transport long distances, in which case 12 or 14 gauge will be used.
What is the maximum amount of power that can be transmitted over speaker wire?
The smaller the number, the larger the cable and the greater power it can withstand. Lamps consume very little power, especially with the modern LED bulbs, so even 18 or 20 gauge ordinary speaker wire will work. The thickness of wire (in this example, speaker wire) can carry a certain amount of energy measured in watts, depending on the gauge. Amperage multiplied by voltage equals watts.
Watts are calculated by multiplying the current by the voltage.
Consider a garden hose to help you comprehend what’s going on. The amperage is the amount of water that runs through the hose. The voltage is equal to the water pressure. The electrical load is the next step. The watts used by the electrical equipment you’ve plugged in and turned on are known as the electrical load.
The length of the wire will now define the quantity of electricity (voltage) that may safely go across a circuit (the wire gauge).
Relatively thicker wires will carry excess amperage (current) without overheating than thinner wires.
Wire Gauge Amperage
- 16 gauge > 13 amps
- 14 gauge > 15 amps
- 12 gauge > 20 amps
- 10 gauge > 30 amps
- 8 gauge > 40 amps
- 6 gauge > 50 amps
A standard electrical wire can withstand the amount listed above, and as we all know, speaker wire is similar to electrical wire. You’re probably still wondering if 12v power can be run over speaker wire, and here is where we’ll give you a comprehensive answer.
Your speaker wire can handle a 12v electrical current based on the wire gauge. However, when utilizing the equation, it would only operate electrical gadgets and appliances that correspond to the correct watt.
For instance, if you have 16 gauge speaker wire and 12 volts passing through it, you can power 156-watt electrical equipment.
Watts is measured by amperage multiplied by volts.
We can see from the equation that we already have the volts (12), and all we need to do now is find out how many amperes the speaker wire can withstand depending on its gauge.
As a result, 16 gauge wires can withstand 13 amps;
13 × 12 = Watts
Watts = 156
It is vital to know that electrical gadgets are measured in watts, and it will have them written on the pack or on the item Itself.
As a result, depending on the wattage of the device, your 12v supply, and your speaker wire gauge, determining whether your speaker wire will be capable of managing the electrical load should be simple.
What electrical equipment can a speaker wire connect to?
As it is known, you can run 12v power through speaker wire, with the gauge of the speaker wire being the only consideration. Depending on the watts of the electrical equipment, the wire gauge would permit a specific amount of charge load to be transferred over it.
Line voltage and low voltage have been discussed earlier in this article. Low voltage has a transformer that reduces the voltage to 12 or 24 volts, whereas line voltage is the standard (120 volts) found in outlets and junction boxes.
As a result, you may utilize speaker wire to power low-voltage appliances and devices like doorbells, hard-wired smart-home devices, home security sensors, thermostats, landscape lighting as garage door openers around your home. Keep in mind that your home’s outlets will be 120 volts if you reside in the United States and 220 or 240 volts if you live in Europe.
If you want to connect speaker wire to a plug and then straight to a wall socket, you’ll have to determine the gauge of wire you’ll need based on the device’s wattage; else, it will cause wire heat up and melting, and in some situations, cause a fire hazard.
Although the speaker and electric lines look similar, they are not the same. Electric cables come in stranded and solid types, while speaker wires are stranded. When used as an electric wire, the stranded wire will impact how well the speaker wire performs. Speaker wires mainly handle low voltage current, although some electric cables are built for high voltage current.
The features listed below make speaker wires an excellent substitute for electric wires;
The American Wire Gauge (AWG) number is used to classify electric and speaker wires. The AWG number for thicker wires is lower, while the gauge number for thinner wires is more significant. As a result, a 4 AWG wire will be thicker than an 18 AWG wire.
The AWG stands for the conductor diameter, not the overall wire diameter. The stranded wires (conductors) in speaker cables with a smaller gauge are thicker than those with a higher gauge.
The gauge affects the resistance of the speaker and electric cables. Because thicker wires allow for a greater flow of electric current, there is less resistance. Because thinner wires have higher resistance, the electric current flowing through the conductors is limited.
Consider watering your lawn with a hose with a small opening. Even with high water pressure, the water will encounter resistance. However, more water will flow out of the hose has a broader opening since there will be less resistance. Therefore, it can be used instead of an electric wire if the speaker wire is thick enough to allow easy electric current passage.
The cable length required when using speaker wire instead of electric wire is essential. If a long wire is needed, it must be thicker. The electric current will flow more freely through the conductors, resulting in the appliance heating or lighting as planned. However, if the speaker wire is fragile, the current flow will encounter resistance and may fail to function.
Level of voltage
In most American homes, the electric cables contain a voltage of 120V or 240V. Speaker wires contain a low voltage because they are not hooked into a wall outlet. They make use of the amplifier’s current.
The amplifier output determines the voltage carried by the speaker wire.
When a 100-watt amplifier is used to drive an 8-ohm speaker, the output voltage is limited to 30 volts. This voltage may not be enough to operate most of your devices, but it can be utilized for low-voltage appliances.
Speaker wires expand and contract quickly and are ideal in-wall wiring tight corners because they are stranded.
To make a complete circuit, speaker cables, like electric lines, have negative and positive wires. This makes it easier for the electric current to flow continuously from the amplifiers to the speakers. The wires on some speaker cables are encased with a translucent substance, allowing them to be seen. Many of the wires are colored differently, making it easy to distinguish between negative and positive wires. Positive is generally represented by red, whereas negative is represented by black.
Another reason a speaker wire can be used instead of an electric wire is its polarity.
Wiring the wall
You’ll need to plug the cord into the wall at the other end. These are available in solder-on and solderless screw-on forms, but the most basic snap over the wire’s end and pierce the insulator to make an electrical connection. The hot wire will be labeled on one end of the connector, while the neutral will be marked on the other. Place them where you want them, shut the connector, and you’re done.
A Few Limitations Speaker wire is available in various gauges, each labeled with a number. The smaller the number, the larger the cable and the greater the power it can handle.
The Wall Wiring In low-voltage applications such as sensors, thermostats, and hard-wired smart-home devices, you might try running speaker wire through your walls in addition to using it as a power cord. You’ll need a wire with a CL2 or CL3 rating if you wish to run it through a heat duct. The CL2 or Cl3 rating shall be written along the side of the code-compliant speaker wire.
There is not much difference between an electrical wire and a speaker wire. We looked into speaker wire to see whether it could hold a 12v current and discovered that it could, but we also had to consider the gauge of the speaker wire (the thickness of the wire). This provided some evidence that speaker wire can transport current, but to what extent?
The wire’s thickness (gauge) determined how much amperage it could carry, and different gauges indicated varying amperage handling capabilities.
As a result, almost any speaker wire can handle 12 volts. The only thing to keep in mind is that the wattage it produces will vary, and you’ll need to match that wattage to the electrical equipment you’ll be using with that speaker wire.
I am Baker Hughes and I live in the USA. I am an electrical engineer and work with 12 Volt products. I want to explore this section more because it is an area of interest for me that has been developed over time. I have 10 Years of experience with 12 Volt products, specifically wiring, installation, guide, reviews, and troubleshooting.