What cable to use for wiring in the apartment: a review of the wires and choosing the best option

Vasily Borutsky
Checked by a specialist: Vasily Borutsky
Author: Lyudmila Gudkova
Last update: October 2019

A variety of wires are available for sale, varying in material, cross-section, marking, design and color.

When laying electrical systems, it is necessary to solve the priority question - which cable to use for wiring in the apartment to ensure the safety and reliability of the laid electrical communications.

Agree, the choice of a suitable conductor is not an easy task. We will try to help you, and offer you to get acquainted with the detailed classification of cables and the specifics of connecting electrical equipment.

Reasons to replace cables

Full or partial replacement of power grids is usually necessary in two cases:

  1. Posting Age. Overhaul is recommended to be carried out after 15-20 years after entering a new apartment. During this time, established communications wear out, becoming a source of potential danger to residents.
  2. Redevelopment and repair of premises (especially with the addition of powerful household appliances). Modern electric stoves, washing machines, dishwashers have increased wiring requirements. It is undesirable to connect them to old power grids due to mismatch of characteristics. When planning to purchase such units, it is better to update communications in separate rooms, for example, in the kitchen or in the bathroom.

Regardless of the reason for replacing the power supply network, work should begin with the preparation of electrical wiring diagrams and selection of cable products.

Differences between cables and wires

Novice masters often ask the question of what to buy for laying electrical communications - cables or wires.

To solve this problem, you need to find out the difference between these products:

  • According to the GOST 15845-80 adopted in the USSR, a cable consists of one or more conductors (cores) covered with insulating material. Such elements, in turn, are enclosed in a plastic, polyethylene, metal or rubber shell, on top of which an additional protective cover, including armored, can be installed.
  • Thanks to double insulation, the cable is reliably protected from moisture, light, exposure to aggressive substances, mechanical damage. The increased strength and reliability characteristics allow the use of such products in the most difficult conditions, for example, under water and underground.
  • A wire consists of one or several twisted cores, which can be either insulated or bare. Usually they are enclosed in a non-metallic sheath (PVC, cross-linked polyethylene) or a braid / winding of textile or wire. The security of the wire is much less than that of the cable, so the scope of its use is quite limited.

According to professionals, for laying a stationary electrical network in an apartment, it is necessary to use exclusively cables. Wires can be used for portable electrical equipment, as well as in low-current systems with a voltage not exceeding 24V.

Differences between cable and wire
Wires differ from cables in the presence of bare conductors and a lighter protective sheath. They can be used to create electrical systems that do not have high requirements.

When choosing materials for laying electrical networks in residential premises, preference should be given to impeccably high-quality products. Only in this case, you can install a safe, fireproof and reliable wiring, which will ensure the delivery of electric current to every corner of the apartment.

Key Features of Cable Products

When purchasing products used for electrical communications, it is important to consider the following features.

Cable Material and Design

In the assortment you can find wiring elements using copper and aluminum conductors. Although the latter are cheaper, copper products are more reliable: they have a higher current conductivity and lower resistance - moreover, conductors made of this metal heat up more slowly.

Copper is also more ductile and not susceptible to rapid oxidation, due to which the veins from it serve for a long time.

Based on such characteristics, existing documents (PUE 7.1.34 and SP 31-110-2003, p. 14.3) prescribe for the wiring device in apartments to use exclusively copper cables and wires.

Aluminum cable
Although aluminum products are widely used in industry, their use for electrical wiring in residential premises is prohibited by the rules of the electrical installation

By design, the wires can have one or several cores. A single-wire element is a monolithic conductor surrounded by an insulating sheath. Such a product is conveniently and simply mounted, in addition, it is cheaper than multi-wire.

At the same time, cables of this design, especially of large cross-section, are stiffer and often break when bent. Because of these features, experts prefer plastic multicore products.

Such models well tolerate twisting, bending, and turning, making them suitable for laying any kind of electrical network.

Additional processing of cable ends
To connect wires having multi-wire cores to electrical equipment (terminal blocks of switches, sockets), termination or additional crimping with lugs is necessary

However, in case of acute need for the use of plaster, a single-core copper product is allowed, since the finishing material provides additional protection.

More on cable cross-section

This indicator, measured in square millimeters, reflects the current throughput. Copper cable products have one mm2 It is capable of passing a current of 8-10 amperes, while aluminum has a maximum value of only 8A.

Wire diameter measurement
Cable cross-section should not be confused with its diameter. If the last characteristic can be measured with a caliper or even a ruler, then the cross-sectional area is calculated using a special formula, one of the variables of which is the diameter

To ensure the safe operation of the power supply network, it is better to select conductors with greater bandwidth.

Due to this, the core does not heat up above the permissible norm, which protects the insulation from melting. Section margin is also important because the wiring hidden under the plaster is poorly cooled.

At the same time, it is not recommended to take a cable whose rating is much higher than the calculated one (for example, 4 instead of 2.5 mm2) In this case, it is necessary to apply the wiring protection calculated on the basis of this indicator, that is, automatic machines and RCDs of greater power are required.

Cables of different sections
For wiring electrical networks in an apartment, several types of cables are usually used. The thinnest ones are used for organizing lighting, the middle ones are suitable for sockets, and the thickest ones for connecting electric stoves

Ideally, the cross-section should correspond to the marking indicated on the cable product tag, however, the actual figure often has a lower value.

Slight discrepancies are acceptable because certification focuses on resistance rather than cross-section. Significant discrepancies in numbers indicate marriage.

When choosing and calculation of the cross section of electric cables need to be guided PUE 7.1.34In addition, each wiring line must be calculated separately, taking into account the expected load.

However, in most cases it is permissible to be guided by practical experience in the installation of electrical wiring. Based on numerous observations and calculations, cables with the following section are often used in the wiring device:

Vein insulation thickness

Any conductor used in a multicore or single-core cable is surrounded by insulation, for which PVC or other types of plastic are used (they can be ordinary or have low combustibility and smoke formation).

The insulation thickness is regulated by the relevant GOSTs: for household cables rated for voltages up to 660 V, with a cross section of 1.5 and 2.5 square millimeters, the standard provides for the use of an insulating layer of 0.6 mm.

In order not to be mistaken, it is better to buy cables of well-known brands offered in reputable specialized stores.

Cable sheath thickness

The outer sheath forms an integral cable, fixing and protecting the insulated conductors inside.

Like vein insulation, it is usually made of various types of plastic (PVC, cross-linked polyethylene, polymer with reduced flammability), but has a greater thickness.

According to the adopted rules, the layer of protective sheath of single-core cables is 1.4 mm, and multi-core - 1.8 mm, in practice, the thickness of such products may vary slightly downwards.

All components of the apartment wiring, even if they are supposed to be used for areas with minimum power, should be made of cables having sheathed wires and an integral sheath.

Double insulation maximally protects the power grid from damage and ensures the safety of people, helping to avoid electric shock.

Rules for reading cable markings

The cable sheath used for electrical installation in a residential building contains all the information necessary for choosing a product. The inscription, which should be clear and well readable, is printed or squeezed out during the manufacturing process.

Cable marking
Basic information about a particular type of cable product is applied along the entire length of the product, at a small distance from each other.

Here are some notation.

The first letter used in the marking indicates the material for the insulating sheath:

  • P - wire or insulation made of polyethylene;
  • AT - polyvinyl chloride (PVC) insulation;
  • TO - control cable;
  • R - rubber insulation.

The second letter indicates the material of which the sheath of the core is made:

  • AT - PVC insulation;
  • R - rubber sheath;
  • P - polyethylene insulation.

In addition, the marking may contain other letters that reflect other characteristics of the power cable:

  • ng - cable insulation has reduced flammability;
  • Seam - protective sealed wire; PVC hose
  • LS - When melting the wire, little smoke is produced;
  • Bb - a protective shell consisting of two steel tapes;
  • E - shielded cable;
  • B - armored wire;
  • s - cable with filled gaps between the conductors;
  • P - flat wire;
  • G - a cable having increased flexibility;
  • Coolant - single-wire core.

The letter for the material of which the cable is made is available only for aluminum products (AND) A letter is not indicated for copper wires, since this metal is used by default.

Labeling may also contain the following important information:

  • name of manufacturer;
  • year of issue;
  • number of cores;
  • section;
  • voltage (nominal).

Catalogs and price tags usually do not indicate the manufacturer and date of manufacture. In this case, the marking has the form VVGng (ozh) -0.66 kV 3x1.5.

What stands for a three-core non-combustible (ng) flexible (G) copper cable with three single-wire conductors (ozh), the cross section of which is 1.5 sq mm. The cable is designed for a rated voltage of 660 V, and has insulation and a sheath of PVC plastic (BB).

For more information on marking cables and wires, see this article.

Cable core colors

Wires can be either uniformly colored or have a one-millimeter strip on the sheath along the wiring.

Wires of different colors
The conductors in the cable are of different colors. This greatly facilitates the process of connecting the elements, which is important when conducting electrical work

Decryption wire colors:

  • Red, brown, white wires are usually used as a phase (indicated on the diagrams as L).
  • Blue wires indicate zero (N).
  • Green or green-yellow veins which are put on the plan by letters PEalways match grounding.

Such color specifics greatly facilitate electrical work.

Packaging and certificates of conformity

There are two types of standard packaging for electrical wiring. Cables intended for retail sale in construction and other specialized stores are wound around bays.

Products offered to wholesalers, construction companies and other large consumers are packed in drums.

Cable tag
Each packaging of cable products must be accompanied by a tag, which may have a different color, shape and mounting option

Regardless of the packaging, a tag with a description is attached to the products, which includes:

  • factory name or trademark;
  • brand of cable products;
  • production date;
  • GOST or TU according to which the cable product is released;
  • number of segments with designation of length;
  • drum number;
  • conductor weight;
  • mark of conformity;
  • controller mark.

When you purchase a cable with an entire bay of 100 m in size, the tag is handed along with the products. When purchasing a wiring piece - a label is provided by the seller for viewing.

Cable quality is confirmed by special documents. Products must have a fire safety certificate and a certificate of conformity confirming the possibility of using this type of cable for certain electrical work.

The document relating to a particular type of product must indicate GOST or TU, as well as the expiration date. Sellers must present a certificate for review at the buyer's first request.

The external state of cable products

When buying electrical wiring, you should also pay attention to the appearance of the products. It is better to avoid products that have external damage: severe kinks, flattening, bruising.

Such malfunctions can signal internal problems: conductors with external defects can have breaks or be closed on top of each other. In order not to make a mistake with the choice, it is advisable to carefully inspect the electrical wire in the store, and only then pay for the purchase.

Existing Product Varieties

It is difficult to unequivocally answer the question of what wires and cables are needed to carry out wiring in the living quarters of an apartment, since various types of similar products are required to carry out such work.

Three core cable
According to current safety regulations, all home appliances and sockets must be grounded. Therefore, in apartments, a three-core cable is widely stretched, having a "phase", "zero" and "ground"

For the lighting circuit, on which the smallest load of the mains falls, a cable with a section of 1.5 mm is suitable2. For him, it is enough to provide a circuit breaker of 10 A (2.3 kW).

For sockets, the load in which can reach up to 3-4 kW, it is necessary to take products with a cross section of 2.5 square meters. mm, capable of withstanding currents up to 27 A and power 5.9 kW.

However, you should not load the line to such limits: for correct operation, a margin of one third of the planned load is required. In this case, you need a switch rated for 16 A (3.6 kW).

If planned installation of a socket for an electric stove (hob), it is necessary to lay a cable with a cross-section of 6 square meters. mm for power up to 10.1 kW.

In this case, it’s important choose the appropriate machinedesigned for an electric current of 32 A (voltage 7.3 kW).

When choosing the parameters of the input cable to the apartment, it is important to consider the power allocated to the apartment. As a rule, in this case it is necessary to use a product with a section of 6-10 square meters. mm

Popular types of wiring

Among the commonly used types of products for electrical installation, two common models can be distinguished: VVG and NYM.

Option # 1 - VVG cable

The most popular product of domestic production, which is often used to perform electrical work in an apartment. The cable refers to unarmoured flexible power wires.

It can consist of 1-5 copper cores, the cross sections of which vary from 1.5 to 240 square meters. mm Conductors, which can have a round, triangular and flat shape, are surrounded by polyvinyl chloride insulation and a common sheath.

The VVG cable has several modifications:

  • VVG - the main type, the characteristics of which are given above.
  • VVGng - a power cable having an outer sheath and core insulation made of non-combustible polyvinyl chloride.
  • VVGng-LS - wiring whose cores have a non-combustible, self-extinguishing insulation, and the sheath has a low smoke emission rate.
  • VVGng FR-LS - non-flammable cable with low smoke, having additional protection against fire, made of mica tape.

Although conventional VVG is cheaper, its shell does not have fire-resistant properties and emits a lot of smoke when burning. These products are also not suitable for bundle laying, while non-combustible products are mounted in bundles, so that several cable lines can be laid simultaneously in corrugations, pipes or pits.

Varieties of VVGng cable
One and the same type of product (for example, VVGng cable) produced by various enterprises may have slight differences in appearance and technical characteristics

Based on the above reasons, for wiring electrical networks in an apartment, it is better to take reliable and practical products of the PPGNG-HF and VVGNG-LS brands, the most safe in domestic operating conditions:

Option # 1 - NYM Cable

These are copper products manufactured at Russian plants under a German license. The cable complies with both domestic GOSTs and European standards.

According to the main characteristics, the model coincides with the performance of the VVGng cable; it is also rated for a rated voltage of 0.66 kW.

A NYM single-wire multi-core cable with a cross section of 1.5-10 mm is available for sale.2 and multiwire, the cross section of which exceeds 16 mm2.

For incombustibility of the product, a rubber filler is placed between the polyvinyl chloride sheath of the product and the cores insulated with the same plastic (1-5).

NYM wire structure
NYM and VVGNG wires have a sheath made of a poorly burning polymer, so the insulation is prone to self-extinguishing. Another plus: when burning the shell, a small amount of smoke is released that does not contain hazardous components

Cables VVGNG and NYM have similar characteristics.

Among their advantages include:

  1. Quality performance. All wiring components (insulation, cores, sheaths) comply with accepted GOSTs, so the products are reliable and durable.
  2. High fire resistance and safety. Cables that meet all the requirements work flawlessly under the prescribed load, and especially strong insulation allows for beam laying without the risk of fire when the cores interact.
  3. Easy cutting and easy installation. The round cable packaging allows you to comfortably carry out installation, avoiding twisting when laying networks. In this case, the wiring can be sealed at the terminal.

Another plus is a large assortment of similar models, differing both in technical characteristics and in price.

Subtleties of connecting electrical equipment

Apartment owners often need to connect large aggregates of household appliances, for example, an electric stove or washing machine.

Flexible wires are intended for these purposes, clause 2.1.48 of PUE 7according to which it is possible to take only products whose purpose is indicated in the standards and specifications.

For example, to connect the hob, you should select a wire, in the certificate of which there is a mention of a similar application of this product.

Which wires are not suitable?

There are product options that are strictly forbidden to use for laying electrical networks, even in extreme cases. These include the following types of products.

Item # 1 - PVA wire

Connecting copper element having a sheath and PVC insulation. It has a multi-wire design with 2-5 conductors with a cross section of 0.75-10 square meters. mm

A wire rated for a voltage rating of 0.38 kW can be used to connect household electrical equipment to the mains and to make extension cords.

For laying the PVA wiring is not suitable for the following reasons:

  1. It has a multi-wire core design, so tinning and soldering is necessary for connecting the ends, which requires a lot of time and a lot of experience.
  2. The product creates a fire hazard: because of the wire cores, the cable heats up more strongly, which is why the insulation wears out faster, which can lead to a short circuit.
  3. PVA can not be laid in a bundle, while almost all cable models are suitable for this. Due to the fact that the wiring lines should be at a certain distance from each other, you will have to perform strobes under the wall for each of them.

Thus, even the low price of such wires cannot compensate for the high installation costs, and the quality of the laid power supply will not be too high.

Product # 2 - ShVVP, PVVP wires

Cords or cables having one or multi-wire cores made of copper can be used to connect household appliances, electrical equipment.

However, they are not suitable for stationary electrical communications, since these products lack non-combustible insulation.

Electric wire ШВВП
Although a flat cord with polyvinyl chloride sheaths (ШВВП) is not recommended for laying electrical networks, it is quite suitable for organizing low-current lighting up to 24V, namely for laying wiring from a transformer to LEDs

In addition, the life of the ball screw and the runway is quite short, and a multi-core design requires processing of the ends and soldering during installation.

It is also worth mentioning PUNP (universal flat wire), which was banned for electrical wiring in the apartment back in 2007.

This obsolete product has poor insulation and low power, which is why it does not withstand modern loads

Conclusions and useful video on the topic

The proposed video provides detailed information on the selection of products for the organization of electrical wiring in residential premises:

Despite the wide variety of products, it is quite easy to choose the necessary material for laying electrical communications. It is necessary to carefully read the labeling, tags and product certificates, pay attention to the technical characteristics and quality of the cable.

Share with your readers your experience of wiring in the apartment, tell us which cable you used. Please leave comments on the article and ask your questions. The feedback form is located below.

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Visitors Comments
  1. Faced a situation that in the country it was necessary to replace the wiring. The old age was already decent and it was necessary to lay it under the new layout. Having asked what is better in modern realities, I went in search of the Internet. Having stumbled upon this article and studying it, I realized that everything is simple, you just need to choose the right model for the appropriate characteristics, reading the markings. Now the next weekend you can go shopping.

  2. I read it. And did not understand. which wire to choose ...

    • Expert
      Vasily Borutsky

      The choice of wires and cables for the home electrical system is associated with two parameters: reliability and cost. Reliability means network length and wire size. The thicker the more expensive! Having chosen the optimal size, we will not throw money away.

      We carry out calculations based on the availability of electrical equipment, the desired lighting, the equipment of the kitchen, bathroom. It is advisable to make wiring with cables, all wires are colored, do not get confused.

      Sockets, switches are also selected according to the nameplate power of the connected devices, each with a girlfriend, so as not to pull out and loosen the contacts. If you know what a screwdriver is, handle it!

  3. Valery

    There is a lot of information, but concrete help for self-laying wiring zero, lots of water!

    • Expert
      Vasily Borutsky

      Valery, with all due respect, this article is about choosing a cable for wiring, and not about how to make this wiring.

  4. I also did not understand which brand of cable I need to choose for wiring.

    • Expert
      Vasily Borutsky

      Good afternoon, Oleg.

      When the text is voluminous, you need to work with its main blocks. Here I took screenshots of the main thoughts of the author for you (the material is attached at the bottom of my comment).

      About the choice of cable - the text gives an example of decoding the letter marking of the cable, which is used in apartment wiring - VVGng (ozh) -0.66 kV 3x1.5. The last value, I recall, is determined by the calculation of the network. This type of cable and you can choose.

      If you find an analog with high voltage, you can give preference to it. In the article, by the way, there is a section called “Popular Varieties of Electrical Wiring”, which lists the main brands of cables and wires used.

      And once again - all sections are determined by calculation. Next, you should be guided by a specific situation (humidity, temperature, chemical environment, other characteristics of the room), under which insulation, protective sheaths, and other cable coatings are selected.

      Pay attention to the section "Which wires do not fit."

      Attached photos:
  5. Damir

    Thank you for the article. I came in handy.

  6. Arthur

    I will say briefly, sockets - cable 3x2.5 automatic 16A
    light - 3x1.5 automatic 10A
    all vvgng-ls