In brief, yes you can use speaker wire for 12v lights. Technology has evolved and so have the tools. In the old days, we used to have speaker wires that looked like a flat-eight where two wires were joined together side by side. But today, both the speaker wire and the electrical wire look identical. That’s why people wonder whether they can use them interchangeably or not.
Therefore it can be a question of whether you can use a speaker wire for 12v lights instead of an electrical wire.
So, if you have a stack of speaker wires and are wondering what to do with them, we have a solution for you.
In this article, we are going to have a deeper look at the speaker wire, where you can use it, how it is different from the electrical wire, or does it really have the power to light up a 12v light. Read on to know these all.
What Is A Speaker Wire?
A speaker wire is used to make the connection between loudspeakers and amplifiers. It is thin in diameter (wire gauge) compared to any electrical wire. The functionality is also the same as the electrical wire as it is also made from copper that can transfer electrical currents.
As it looks identical to electrical wire, people sometimes expect to use them interchangeably without knowing the differences.
Is The Speaker Wire Different From The Electrical Wire?
Basically, there is no significant difference in the sight between speaker wires and electrical wires. A speaker wire comes with the same wire, insulation, and materials as an electrical wire.
The noticeable difference you may see is in the color of its insulation. A speaker wire may come in transparent insulation whereas electrical wires come in a variety of colors like green, red, and black to identify which is which.
But there are other functional differences too. Speaker wires are compatible with transferring electrical current at a low voltage which makes them different from the electrical wire.
In some cases, speaker wires are thinner too. That’s why you won’t see any electrician using it for a heavy-duty project. Because the speaker wire can not handle the heavy load due to the thinner diameter and may cause electrical hazards.
Can I Use Speaker Wire For 12v Lights?
Now the question is, can you use speaker wire for 12v lights? The straight answer is YES, you can. A speaker wire can handle anything of 12v power including LEDs.
It’s because LEDs use a minimum voltage that a speaker wire can easily carry. To be very precise, you can use speaker wire for 10-24v electrical devices whether it’s a light or any electrically powered equipment. But you must consider the wire gauge which stands for the diameter of the wire.
While using a speaker wire for any appliances anywhere in your home, you must understand the wire gauge. The wire gauge actually decides how much current the wire will be able to transfer at a time. To understand how a gauge affects the current transmission, think of it as a water pipe. The larger the diameter of the pipe, the greater amount of water the pipe can carry. Similarly, the thicker the diameter or wire gauge, the more the current will pass through it.
The thinner ones are used mostly for light-duty appliances. Therefore, if any light duty works like powering a 12v light, you can use a speaker wire without a doubt. Not just the 12v lights, you can make the best usage of speaker wires for doorbells, remote wires, LED lights, etc.
But remember, it will always be safer if you use it within a 50 to 100 feet distance to handle the voltage drop.
What to Consider While Choosing Speaker Wire For 12v Lights?
There are a few things you should consider while choosing speaker wire for 12v lights. Those are given below.
Make sure the wire is compatible with transferring the adequate amount of current required by the lights. The higher the gauge, the lesser the electricity it will transmit. For 12v lights, 14-16 gauge will be safe to choose.
Before using the speaker wire, be sure that it’s made of copper. Coppers are highly conductive and can be checked just by looking at the product description on the packaging.
Last but not least. Experience always counts. So if you are not experienced in using speaker wires as electrical wires, you will barely know how to use them properly. We recommend you call a professional if you are going to do it for the first time.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Many Volts Can a Speaker Wire Carry?
A speaker wire may carry from 12v to 30v. Speaker wires are not supposed to be used for any heavy-duty electrical load. Best, if you could check the wire gauge to assess the load capacity. To do that, multiply the amperage that the wire gauge ensures with the voltage. That will give you wattage that indicates the electric load capacity of the wire.
Does Speaker Wire Carry Electricity?
Yes. The speaker wire can do electricity. Though it’s not similar to electric wires which transmit power from an external source, it can carry current as it does from an amplifier. The wire can also be used as a power cable for low-watt electrical devices including 12v lights. Also, the pure copper construction helps it to transmit power with ease. But that should not be of anything high volt.
Can Speaker Wire Be Used As Primary Wire?
Yes, a speaker wire can be used as a primary wire. But it must satisfy two conditions. First, the wire should be able to handle less than a 3% voltage drop. Second, the insulation should not be rigid and must be able to handle the voltage level you will operate on.
If your speaker wire can satisfy both conditions, you can use it for the primary wire. Experts recommend that you use speaker wire as a primary wire for low-current devices just to be on the safe side.
If you are considering using speaker wires for your 12v lights, go for it. There is no harm in using a speaker wire instead of an electrical wire for light-duty use.
But there is something that you always need to keep in mind and that is the wire gauge. The wire gauge will tell you how much electrical load capacity your wire has. Therefore, you must check the wire gauge before using it to ensure its load capacity. This will help you to avoid any unwanted hazards.