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Old 12-11-2014, 09:15 PM   #1
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1973 25' Tradewind
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Adding Circuits AC stranded or solid

Hi Folks. I am hoping someone can help. I have added 2, AC 20 amp circuits to my 73 Tradewind. I ran the 12 gauge stranded wire in non metalic flex conduit.

I have received conflicting advice from two different qualified sources I respect. It isn't that they said I was wrong or right but it was a matter of degree in which they favored as the correct way. One felt the stranded was great for the trailer situation (an electrician). The other felt solid was better mostly because AC devices are looking for solid wire.

I am wonder how others feel and would appreciate any input you are willing to provide.

Many Thanks


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Old 12-11-2014, 10:06 PM   #2
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Typically solid wire like Romex is used for the AC side of life. Stranded wire is used for the DC side of life.
There are those that recommend only marine grade wire for everything.
Crimp type connectors are routinely used in the wiring of an RV. This type of connector works best on stranded wire.
Wire nuts typically are used on solid wire. But are known to be used on stranded wire.
One must keep in mind that stranded wire is nothing more than a bunch of solid wires in a sheath. While much more forgiving. If not supported or protected properly can also be subject to damage by vibration.

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Old 12-12-2014, 05:42 AM   #3
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Being 'one of those' that recommends the use of marine grade stranded cable for everything, I have seen enough breaks in solid copper Romex used in RV's over my 14 years in this business to fully justify the use of marine cable.

And for the breaking issue, try a little experiment yourself: grab a single wire 12" piece of 12AWG Romex and a similar piece of 12AWG stranded, tinned marine cable and bend them back and forth to simulate unsupported bouncing inside the wall of an RV. I will send you a $100 check if you can prove to me that the stranded cable breaks at all before Romex will. I'm sure you will find that the Romex will break well before the marine cable (I am not talking about residential stranded cable here), if you can even get the marine cable to sever.

Boats and RVs are very similar in the way they are used (either bouncing down the road or bouncing thru the waves) and the ABYC (American Boat and Yacht Council) that writes the marine standards forbids the use of any solid copper cable in boats. Why should RVs be any different?

Marine cable does cost more, but you will never experience a wire break or corrosion of any kind. And wire nuts work well also (I always tape any wire nutted connection), and you will appreciate the ease of running the flexible marine cable.

As far as your 'qualified' source stating that AC devices are 'looking' for solid wire, I would love to know what the source of that advice is. The movement of electrons form electricity, and those electrons have actually been found to move on the surface of the conductors that carry them, so in reality, stranded cable will have more surface area and the ability to carry more electrons.

Any AC device doesn't 'care' how it gets it's required electrons for proper operation, it just needs the right amount. Be certain that your cables are of the right size to carry sufficient amperage to the device, and size your over-current protection (circuit breakers and fuses) to the wire gauge used in that circuit (14AWG =15 amps, 12AWG = 20 amps) and realize that the breakers and fuses are thee to protect the wire from an over-current event.

Be safe out there and do the job right the first time.
Lew Farber...ABYC Certified Master Marine Electrician...RVIA Certified Master Tech ...AM Solar Authorized Installation Center...AIRSTREAM Solar & Electrical Specialist...Micro Air 'Easy Start' Sales and Installations
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Old 12-12-2014, 06:16 AM   #4
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I second Lewster's comments above. They are 100% correct. As far as the check is concerned, that's on him!
Having owned boats and been in the boating industry all of me life, he couldn't have said it better.

Not sure what your other source's background is that said solid wire is better, but that applies to non-moving electrical circuits, such as your house, NOT an RV. If he were to re-think his remarks geared towards the APPLICATION, I'm sure he would arrive at a different conclusion. Each form (solid wire or stranded) has it's applications, and industry standards. The old adage "voltage burns, amperage kills" can apply here. In that I mean, do not skimp on the wire size. Follow the standard & Lewster's advice above for a worrysome & trouble-free installation.
Like I heard for 5 yrs as a generator mechanic in the military: "Come correct, or don't come at all."
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Old 12-12-2014, 08:38 AM   #5
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Thanks for taking the time to reply. My cousin, an accomplished electrician and not in my will, said the same thing as you folks. I just wanted to be sure since I already went with stranded. Unfortunately it was not marine. It was 12 gauge, for 20amp breakers.

I think what the other source (not my cousin) was thinking when he suggested solid for AC was how it actually hooked up to the breakers and outlets. He was humble and did defer to the pro's saying "he was just a dude on the internet"

Many thanks for helping me stay out of trouble.

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Old 12-12-2014, 09:15 AM   #6
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Stranded copper for trailers, boats and aircraft. My first career was as aircraft electrician (Navy), no solid wire used for AC or DC circuits. It would eventually fail in the constant movement.
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Old 12-12-2014, 09:47 AM   #7
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Stranded for AC and DC. I'm using shielded twisted pairs and triples aviation wire, with all grounds returning to split common ground buses, one for AC and one for DC.
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Old 12-12-2014, 10:57 AM   #8
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Stranded for flexibility. Tighten terminations. Tighten again.
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Old 12-12-2014, 11:06 AM   #9
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Stranded Wire or Solid.

Having been a Master Electrician for some 40 years, here is my take. The stranded is better for a trailer as it tolerates vibration better. The system cares not what type wire us use but the stranded will take the vibration so this is my advice for what it is worth.
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Old 12-12-2014, 11:32 AM   #10
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As long as the stranded isn't soldered to make solid and a crimp connect is used was the better advice of the 'qualified' sources. Too much movement of either wire would be a problem. Last problem I had was with unexpected broken wires I found in the new indicator led's china thinks shrink wrap over insulation will suffice, maybe it would if connecting wires were thicker than hair.
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Old 12-12-2014, 10:29 PM   #11
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Stranded is the better choice, and is about the same in cost per foot. Use the Carflex/Nonrigid sheathing with the correct connectors to the gang box or the outlet.
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Old 12-12-2014, 11:03 PM   #12
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If you have or go with solid

I would NOT use the push in connections on the outlet. I like to tin the ends of stranded wires.
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Old 12-13-2014, 06:45 AM   #13
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Stranded or Solid

Originally Posted by mandolindave View Post
I would NOT use the push in connections on the outlet. I like to tin the ends of stranded wires.
The stranded vs solid wire debate seems to come up often but the part that usually doesn't get addressed is the method/s to use if the ends of stranded wire are going into a 120 volt circuit breaker. Is tinning the preferred choice in that situation?

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Old 12-13-2014, 08:53 AM   #14
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If you do tin the ends of the wire, you should still put it under the screws. The push-in connections are only for solid wire.

That said, stranded wire is still best for use in a mobile situation like an AS.

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