Solar Cable: PV Wire vs. USE-2 Wire – Brought to you by Allied Wire & Cable

These days, we all need to do our part to
save the environment. Turning to solar energy is a great step! Not only does solar power reduce our carbon
footprint, but now there are even more incentives to
rely on renewable energy, including tax breaks, grants, and other financial incentives. Solar power is a great way to save the environment
and save some money at the same time! But how does solar energy work? We've all seen the solar panels used to collect
light and transform it into usable energy, but getting that energy to the end user takes
specialized cable. Some of the most popular types of solar cable
are USE-2 Wire and Photovoltaic Wire: PV Wire for short. USE-2 Wire has been used outdoors for interconnecting
photovoltaic modules for quite some time. PV wire is newer. It first appears in the 2008 edition of the
National Electric Code, which says both single-conductor USE-2 Wire
and PV Wire are appropriate for use in outdoor photovoltaic arrays.

Underwriter’s Laboratories now recommends
PV wire for use in exposed applications, while USE-2 wire is typically used underground. PV Wire falls under the UL 4703 standard. USE-2 Wire is rated as RHH or RHW wire. PV Wire and USE-2 Wire have similar constructions
and performance characteristics, but there are some notable differences
because of their distinct installation environments. USE-2 is underground service entrance wire
commonly used to connect service equipment terminals.

USE-2 may only be used with grounded systems. PV Wire may be used in both grounded and ungrounded
photovoltaic arrays. Both PV Wire and USE-2
are rated at 600 volts, but PV can also be rated up to 1,000 or even
2,000 volts. In wet environments, PV and USE-2 are both
rated to 90°C, but PV wire can be used in dry conditions
at temperatures up to 150°C.

PV Wire has a copper or tinned copper conductor
which is stranded to maintain flexibility. USE-2 doesn't require the same flexibility,
so its conductor may be stranded or solid. USE-2 conductors are typically made of copper,
aluminum, or copper-clad aluminum. USE-2 has a minimum conductor size of 14 gauge,
but PV Wire is available in even smaller sizes: down to 18 gauge. Both types of solar wire feature thermoset
insulation and jacketing, but PV Wire has thicker insulation and jacketing
for extra mechanical protection. These components also make PV Wire more sunlight
resistant and more flexible at low temperatures than
USE-2 Cable. Because PV Wire may have an exposed installation
in which flame could spread easily, it must pass a flame test
to make sure that it’s flame resistant. USE-2 does not need this because it is generally
used underground, as recommended by UL.

Choosing between USE-2 and PV Wire will depend
on your application. Will it be above ground or below? What are the temperature and voltage requirements? Are you dealing with a grounded or ungrounded
array? These questions will help lead you to the
right solar cable. For a particularly challenging solar application,
we can design custom solar cable for you! We’ll help you build a cable from the inside
out to ensure that it meets all of your unique
specifications. Or take advantage of our value-added services. Customize your order by adding up to three
stripes per wire. Or add custom print,
like text, numbers or even your company logo. We also offer taping, tinning, twisting, cut
& strip, and more, to save you time and make installation easy. Allied Wire & Cable is a family owned and
operated distributor of electrical wire, electronic
cable, heat shrink tubing, and wire management products. We stock the largest inventory of USE-2 and
PV wire anywhere, along with other products used in the solar
and renewable energy industries, all at the lowest prices in the industry.

We guarantee that all orders for stock items
received by 1PM EST will ship the same day, and with our locations across the United States,
we are able to ship your orders from the most convenient source. We are ISO 9001:2008 certified,
so you can rest assured the products you receive will be of the highest quality available. One sales representative handles your account. That means one point of contact
and the trust and assurance that comes with having a personal relationship with our customers.

Ready to order? Or do you have questions about solar cable
or other Allied products? Call 1-888-325-1788
or visit our website at

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