When it comes to electrical wiring for your business, you need regular voltage wires that can run power to your appliances, devices, and anything you wish to power. When you think of electrical wiring, this is probably the type of wiring you envision.
Many modern buildings, however, also utilize low voltage wiring, which is commonly used for high-speed internet and the many connected devices we use today.
How can you differentiate low voltage wire vs regular wire, and which is the best to install on your commercial property? Keep reading to learn more.
What is Regular Wire?
Regular wire installed in homes or businesses is designed to power standard electrical equipment. It’s what runs to outlets and is typically 120V or 140V. All buildings that have electricity will have standard wire run throughout for power. This wire runs power to all of your outlets.
Most appliances require the voltage carried by regular electrical wire, including computers, TVs, and major appliances. Devices that you plug into your outlets use regular wire as well.
Regular wire was — and still is — the standard in most buildings. However, there are many things in modern offices that don’t need as much power as is offered by a regular wire. Many buildings now are also equipped with low voltage wire in addition to standard wire.
What is Low Voltage Wire?
Low voltage wire is installed in addition to regular wire, and it’s used to power things like WiFi, high-speed internet, security systems, lighting, smart devices, phones, AV wiring, heating and cooling thermostats, and landscape lighting.
Also referred to as structured cabling, low voltage wire is usually 50V or less. Other common voltages for low voltage wire are 12V, 24V, and 48V. This is much less than the standard 120V or 140V. Low voltage wires typically have a larger gauge than regular wire.
Low voltage wire is the standard to use today for networks for your business. The wiring for networks can be CAT5, CAT5e, CAT6, or CAT6A, with CAT5 being the most outdated and least efficient, and CAT6A being the most up-to-date and best-performing wiring. Networks that have fast download and upload speeds will require CAT6 cables to work optimally.
It’s important to have the most up-to-date wiring for your network; if your wiring is outdated, you may not be able to take full advantage of the features of your network.
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Low Voltage Wire?
Regular wire is essential if you want to have power to your building — it’s a given that you’ll have regular wire installed in your buildings. When it comes to low voltage wire, however, you can decide whether to have this type of wire installed or not.
If you want to have a modern, scalable business operate in your buildings, you probably want to consider installing low voltage wire. However, there are pros and cons to low voltage wiring, so let’s look at those to help you make a decision.
Advantages of low voltage wire include:
- Low voltage wire is more efficient than regular wiring, which makes sense because it doesn’t have to carry as much power.
- Low voltage wiring is also easily adaptable and it’s not difficult to make changes or additions to the system. As your business grows and new technologies become available, it’s easy to tap into your low voltage wiring.
- You’ll also spend less money on running costs for low voltage wire due to its efficiency and low voltage.
Disadvantages of low voltage wire include:
- Whoever does your installation and any future work on your building will need to handle the low voltage wire with care because it is fragile. Most wire can only handle 25 pounds of pull strength.
- Installation of low voltage wire can also be tricky, which we’ll explain in more detail in the next section.
- And of course, you’ll need to pay an initial installation cost to add the additional wiring to your building.
Installing Low Voltage Wire vs Regular Wire
Unless you are a licensed electrician, you shouldn’t be the one to install electrical wiring in your building. However, it can be helpful to know the differences between how low voltage wire vs regular wire is installed.
In most cases, regular wire will automatically be installed in your building. It runs throughout your building and can be turned at 90-degree angles. If you make the decision to add on low voltage wire, installation can become a bit more tricky and should, again, always be done by a professional.
Low voltage wiring needs to run at least a foot away from regular wires, and the installation should be done parallel to other cabling. Most low voltage wire can’t be installed at 90-degree angles, which can make installation tricky as well.
Making the decision to install low voltage wire during construction can make the installation process less tricky, but it is possible to install low voltage wire at any time.
When installing either type of wire in your building, it’s essential for both efficiency and safety that a professional handle the installation. Making the decision to install low voltage wire on your commercial property is probably a move you’ll thank yourself for later.