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Multi-conductor wire type for lights

449 Views 13 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Chonks
I'm installing strobes in my work truck. I need 16ga for the (+) and 10ga for the ground (-). I know I can ground them anywhere, but for minimum disassembly of the interior, I think it'd be easiest to just run the neg up to the controller and ground it up there. I've wire shopped online and there is a plethora of types of multi conductor wire, all with features that I don't comprehend... and don't want to pay for. I want four 16ga wires and one 10ga wire all in one package for ease of install. What terminology do I need to find regular, flexible (not solid, like speaker wire), electricity carrying copper wire? If multiple sizes isn't possible in one pack, I could get a 16/9 or 14/7 and have multiple grounds to get the capacity I need, but if that's the case I'll probably just get 16/4 and a separate ground.

This is what I'm looking for if my description is inadequate.
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Strobes are a heavy load flashing on and off. I would use 18 or 14 stranded wire.

Multi conductor cable is typically not rated for use outside or in the wet and mud.
I think I'll actually go 14 ga. 16 is on the low side for the advertised 2A load I'm planning on.
I've never thought about number of strands being a factor. It must matter since residential wire is solid.
Everything will be in the cab so it just needs to stand up to heat and humidity.

You should use SAE approved automotive wiring unless you want to have problems later. Using solid wire or THHN in a car is asking for trouble. A car is a much more challenging environment than a building wall.

Yeah, that seems clever...

... but I've done a lot of work on cars and I've never seen factory harnesses made that way. They use individual wires, gathered into harnesses with spiral wrap and/or convoluted tubing. So yeah, build your own harness and done.

Yeah, shopping for electrical "online" rarely goes well, especially when it involves a large river in Egypt - I mean Brazil. Everything is stupid overpriced because experienced people don't buy online, so who's left? Novices (very high return rates) and fools who don't care what the price is (Adam Smith says fleece 'em).
The reason I thought to use multi-conductor is cause it's lower profile/ thinner than multiple wires in a wrap... easier to stuff under the headliner and behind trim. I have no clue about ratings of this stuff. All I see is copper (well.. Al for the cheap stuff but this will be Cu) coated in rubber. I don't even know what SAE means, but I've seen it allot. Speaker wire is my go to wire for basically all DC stuff cause it's cheap, packaged nicely, the correct number of conductors, and easy to work with. I'm sure that'll change if you follow up to this post though :giggle:
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The strobes are real Xenon strrobes or just very bright LEDs?
Maybe you buy a trailor lighting kit at wally world comes with 4 long stranded wire SAE rated, then just add your #10 fget a spool at the automotive or rv or tractor supply store..and the tubing and just junk the trailor lights on eBay
They're LED. A quick search for trailer wire yielded some very interesting results. Check out the first link I clicked. There's several multi-gauge multi-conductor wires.
Well, traditionally strobes weren't a huge surge load, because they didn't - like - sit there drawing 0 amps then suddenly draw 100 amps for the millisceond they flash the light. They sit there drawing 0.5 amps continuously charging a capacitor, then dump the capacitor into the strobe in 1 millisecond, then charge again.

I don't know how LED strobes work, maybe it's that same trick. LEDs can be spectacularly overloaded for very short times, the limit on LEDs is thermal mostly.
LEDs are probably far less demanding than traditional strobes. I forget if I was reading about lights or controllers, but one of them recommended a duty cycle (time led is on) to be 50%. That probably means the led is a bit overpowered for its size.

Another way to look at it is they’ll probablydraw More current than a headlight, and those wires aren’t too beefy.
How important is it to get electrical capacities right? I worked hard to guestimate the wire size and relay capacity I need. For maximum current expected (I'd bet actual is half of the numbers I'm using, but say it's correct) I need 14ga wire and a 2A relay. What if I used 20 or 28 ga wire and half or a quarter the relay size? I'd bet that many automotive electrical installs are vastly under speced by folks who have no idea that it matters... Except for audio guys. The audio world is all about big numbers. Gotta have 00 power wire and a 140A fuse to run that 2000W amp off your Carolla's 80A alternator
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