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Wire reviews

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Wire reviews

Post by scionwithbass on Thu Mar 01, 2012 11:55 pm

Ok, so I three kinds of wire im going to review. I needed 0 gauge for the big three so I got some Knukoncepts from Luis, then yesterday I got XS wire from mountaineer Ryan and some welding cable (which I don't know the brand of). So the Knu wire is very very light for a big wire. The Xs is heavier than the Knu wire but a little tiny bit smaller, the welding cable is much heavier. The Knu wire seemed to have more wire strands than XS, but the quality of the XS seems better than the Knu. Overall I think the XS wire is a better product through visual examination, I didn't do any fancy tests with electricity flow or anything, but I did the "flexable" test and the XS flexed very well, same with the Knu but the difference is the XS was much easier to pull into a knot than the Knu, the Knu could flex as much as the XS but it takes more force, the welding cable is fine for grounds. I personally don't care if it can flex in a knot, because im not wrapping my wiring in tight circles everywhere. Anyway, I took a bunch of pics so you can see for your self. I say the XS is the best in my opinion.













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Re: Wire reviews

Post by Emery.H on Fri Mar 02, 2012 2:14 am

Welding cable is 100% OFC though. I would choose that any day over CCA. The Knu and XS is larger to make up for the lack of copper, still doesn't compare though. The welding cable has more than enough flex to be easily ran anywhere in a car.
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Re: Wire reviews

Post by baaudio on Fri Mar 02, 2012 2:16 am

I'm with Emery. I'll take ofc over cca all day. Good review though. I've been curious about the xs power wire
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Re: Wire reviews

Post by basshead92 on Fri Mar 02, 2012 2:20 am

good to know, i have knu 0 gauge wire in my car right now but that's fine for now.
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Re: Wire reviews

Post by ABob89 on Fri Mar 02, 2012 6:17 am

It's always been interesting to me that people rave about the KNU stuff. It's cheap enough but I feel like it's just another CCA wire. I suppose to their credit it does seem to have a pretty solid strand count. No Pyle wires there...
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Re: Wire reviews

Post by Emery.H on Fri Mar 02, 2012 12:44 pm

Strand count does nothing other than change flexibility. That whole issue is over hyped in my mind, why would anyone ever need a 2" diameter knot in their install?
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Re: Wire reviews

Post by ABob89 on Fri Mar 02, 2012 1:34 pm

Electrically speaking DC power travels on the outside of wire rather than through the core of wire. So a higher strand count would create a larger amount of surface area for electricity to travel across. That's why no one makes solid core power wire for automotive applications (besides being horrid to bend).

Least that's what Ive always been told lol
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Re: Wire reviews

Post by Emery.H on Fri Mar 02, 2012 1:46 pm

No, the "skin effect" is in AC, in relation to the frequency, so I've read.

The reason nobody makes solid core wire is that it's not flexible.
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Re: Wire reviews

Post by Guest on Sat Mar 03, 2012 7:28 pm

Strand counts / more flexable and do a test between ofc and Cca on a 15 foot run u well actually be shoked not much of a difference.

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Re: Wire reviews

Post by bassmechanic253 on Sun Mar 04, 2012 4:56 am

I agree with meathead, there is not much difference in cca and ofc if the cca is an actuall good brand most runs are 15-20 ft long and the difference in current would be minimal and even if ofc can handle 30 more amps or so how about add another run of cca and get another 250 amps for the same price hands down cca is a great choice for wire.

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Re: Wire reviews

Post by scionwithbass on Sun Mar 04, 2012 3:31 pm

I agree with you emery, welding cable is probly better. I was trying to focus on Knu vs XS since I didn't know the brand of welding cable, and wasn't really using it for anything but a ground,and alot of people argue over Knu vs XS.

Also having the 2" knot un the install is stupid, who does that?
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Re: Wire reviews

Post by Emery.H on Sun Mar 04, 2012 4:21 pm

Audio manufacturers around the globe are waging an unseen battle. Most people have no idea that the war is going on, much less who is winning. You see, a significant percentage of the cost of the electronics and loudspeakers we enjoy and, in particular the wiring that interconnects them, is linked to the price of copper.

Since 2004, the price of raw copper has more than doubled and manufacturers have been fighting to keep the cost of products low, as one must do in a highly competitive marketplace. Although the price of raw copper has a direct affect on amplifiers (PCBs have copper traces and copper windings in transformers) and loudspeakers (most voice coils are copper), no category of car audio has been as directly affected as cable and wire. You may have noticed that a quality "amp kit" that used to sell for $49.95 a few years ago is now $99.95 or more. This increase is directly attributable to the amount of copper in those products and the rising cost of the raw material.



In an effort to reduce "sticker shock" for those shopping for amp kits, several companies began producing a different kind of wire as a more cost-conscious alternative. The new wire isn't really new; it was used occasionally in past automotive applications. But high prices make for innovation and now we have "Copper-Clad Aluminum" (CCA) wire that costs about half the price of pure copper cables. While this can be a great alternative to expensive copper, it can also lead to problems if misapplied and its limitations aren't fully understood. Here is how to find out if it's right for your system.

Description
CCA wire is an aluminum wire or many strands of aluminum wire coated with a very thin layer of copper. In practice, the "copper-clad" part of the nomenclature is mainly there to assuage potential buyers' doubts, as the amount of copper used is inconsequential to the actual performance.

The construction and gauge sizes of CCA wire are the same as copper wire. The strand size and count can differ just like various qualities of copper wire, as will the flexibility of the conductor. The insulating material is the same PVC or silicone-based material found on copper wire.

The big difference between pure copper wire and CCA wire is resistance. If you look up the conductivity of common metals used as electrical conductors, some facts might surprise you.

The best metal for conducting electricity isn't gold, as many believe. The absolute best conductor is pure silver. The second best is copper, with a very good conductivity at 97.6 percent that of silver. This is the main reason that copper has been the most popular material for an electrical conductor—it's a fraction of the cost of silver with almost equal performance. Gold ranks third, with 76.6 percent the performance rating of silver (the real benefit to gold is its ability to resist corrosion and oxidization). Aluminum, however, is a distant fourth at the 63 percent mark, or about two-thirds the conductivity of copper. Stated another way, and when we include the tiny bit of copper applied, CCA cable has about 34 percent greater resistance than a pure copper cable of the same gauge and construction. Let's take a look at what that additional resistance can mean in the real world or car audio.

If you're reading CA&E, you probably already know that resistance in a conductor causes a loss of power in that conductor, in terms of voltage and/or current. It also can become a source of heat if the resistance and amount of power delivered are high enough.

A quick Ohm's law refresher reminds us that E*I = P or, for those not familiar with the symbols, voltage multiplied by current equals power. So if we want to maximize the ability of our amplifier to make power, we need to maximize the voltage and current that supplies it. Any amount of resistance in the conductor delivering that voltage and current becomes a limiting factor to maximum power delivery.

It's not essential to go into the mathematics here. The point is that for optimum performance with a given supply voltage and a known current delivery requirement, we can calculate how much resistance in the conducting cable is acceptable. Since most of us have been taught the general rule of thumb for selecting wire gauge in systems of various power levels using pure copper cables, it's very important to rethink those requirements when using a less effective conductor, like the CCA cable. While some of you already have your mental light bulb coming on, for those of you new to CCA cable, I provided some additional data to explain what goes on from a technical perspective.

Lab Measurements
As we discussed earlier, additional resistance will increase the heating in the conductor and decrease the amount of power delivered. Let's look at safety first and examine the heat developed in the cables.

Why is the heating important? In most vehicles a portion of this conductor must "live" in the vehicle's engine compartment. Vehicle underhood temperatures here in Arizona often exceed 180F. The insulating jacket on most cables is only rated at 105C, or about 221F. That doesn't leave much of a safety margin for internally developed heat and, in extreme cases, can lead to softened or even melted insulation on the conductor.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Here at Cogent Audio Labs, we're fortunate enough to have a special camera that allows us to photograph heat. In the accompanying photos (see below) you'll see radiometric images of three different cables, all sold as 4-gauge and measured under identical test conditions.



A pure copper cable and a CCA cable were measured and proved to be "full-spec" 4-gauge as determined by the American Wire Gauge chart. The second pure copper cable is sold as 4-gauge but is about 10 percent under spec in strand count and diameter. It's also less expensive than the full-spec copper, so that may be an indication for the buyer to pay attention.

Each cable was exactly 20' in length and the heating test involved passing 100A of current through it for a 30-minute duration. This is a severe condition but not impossible to duplicate in large systems. The ambient temperature and the start temp of each cable was 76F (see measurements below).



Conclusion
At this point you might be thinking that CCA wire is bad and shouldn't be used, but that's not the case. We've done extensive testing on CCA wire for several manufacturers and our results show that it can work very well for all but the highest current applications. Because of the additional resistance you simply can't substitute the same gauge CCA wire for the traditional gauge copper wire. Our strong recommendation would be to simply use one gauge larger size of the CCA cable than the copper cable.

That being said, if you compensate for the increased resistance in the CCA cable by going to the next larger gauge size, you'll probably end up with equal or maybe even less resistance than the smaller gauge pure copper. But along with an increase in cable size comes an increase in price. This could mean little difference in bottom line prices between comparable copper and a +1-gauge in CCA, so be aware of what you're buying. —Garry Springgay

Garry Springgay is the owner of Cogent Audio Labs, and a former contributing tech editor for Car Audio and Electronics magazine.
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Re: Wire reviews

Post by Emery.H on Sun Mar 04, 2012 4:22 pm

Ahh crap, the pictures aren't working, and they didn't post the exact measurements outside of the picture. It was a fairly large difference. CCA got HOT.
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Re: Wire reviews

Post by RRR37 on Sun Mar 04, 2012 10:54 pm

That basically says the same thing. OFC is better, but a size up of CCA will handle as much or more as the copper at equal or lesser resistance. Aluminum is a good conductor and while copper is more common, and a little better, I see Aluminum used every day for commercial and industrial electrical installations. Even on 3000 amp services.
I would say if you are going to use one or the other, just make sure you know what the wire can handle. Go big on wire to avoid any issues and ensure proper current flow while reducing your resistance.
Copper can handle more current than aluminum of the same size, but it is generally cheaper to use more aluminum to make up that difference and then some.

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Re: Wire reviews

Post by Zooook on Mon Mar 05, 2012 5:57 am



Knu kca is blue

Xs xp flex grey

Xs rates there xp 1/0 for 300amps of current for 20ft run. Highest rating of "1/0" cca I've ever heard of. Also the largest "1/0" I've ever seen. I've had many brands of 1/0. Also is a great price. Also has more strands than knu. Highest strand count knu offers is 5150. xs is 5250.

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Re: Wire reviews

Post by ABob89 on Mon Mar 05, 2012 7:07 am

Very interesting read. Thank you very much Emery.H for providing that article.
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Re: Wire reviews

Post by mrd6 on Mon May 07, 2012 5:18 pm

RRR37 wrote:That basically says the same thing. OFC is better, but a size up of CCA will handle as much or more as the copper at equal or lesser resistance. Aluminum is a good conductor and while copper is more common, and a little better, I see Aluminum used every day for commercial and industrial electrical installations. Even on 3000 amp services.
I would say if you are going to use one or the other, just make sure you know what the wire can handle. Go big on wire to avoid any issues and ensure proper current flow while reducing your resistance.
Copper can handle more current than aluminum of the same size, but it is generally cheaper to use more aluminum to make up that difference and then some.

These are very good points, I am working on a design project for school right now and we came to the exact same conclusions for conductor selection in an entirely different scenario.

Also remember your connections and terminals are just as important as the wire itself.
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