AWG stands for American Wire Gauge, and it is the wire gauge standard based on the diameter of the wire. The diameter of the wire chosen for RC models and quadcopters is important. It determines how much current should go through it and can go through it safely without failing, but also the wire wants to be as thin as possible in order to cut weight and also increase the ease of the build.
What wire to use?
First off different components will require different wire thickness’s. General rule of thumb is components such as ESC require thicker wires because they use more current.
Wire Thickness, resistance and current rating
Thicker wires have a larger diameter and cross section area, thus has a lower resistance for the same wire length, and can handle higher current.
Each wire has resistance, and the resistance has to do with the material’s conductivity, wire thickness and wire length. Thinner => more resistance, longer => more resistance.
What happens if exceeding the current rating
If too much current is drawn through the wire, it will begin to heat up due to resistance, and eventually melt. It also becomes the bottleneck in your power system and could struggle to deliver the power to your ESC/motors.
Single-strand VS Multi-strand and Insulation Material
There is not much difference in terms of resistance and efficiency of the wire, but multi-stranded wire is much easier to build with and so makes sense to use on Miniquads.
Silicone insulated wire is much higher quality than is the best for RC applications. Silicone insulated wire is also much more flexible than the standard PVC insulation (great as multirotor frames and components keep getting smaller).
What AWG wire should I choose?
Look Up Table
12AWG Wire – 130A
14AWG Wire – 110A
16AWG Wire – 70A
18AWG Wire – 45A
20AWG Wire – 27A
22AWG Wire – 17A
Does Voltage matter?
Voltage is not that important for RC applications, since the voltage range we deal with are normally within 30V. Note that the wires we use are normally designed with a much much higher voltage (e.g. hundreds of volts and higher)
Like wires, connectors also have current limitation, so you should choose carefully based on the application to avoid it becoming the “bottleneck” of your system. Here are the guideline – continuous and burst current.
- JST connector – 5A (10A)
- 2mm bullet connectors – 20A (40A)
- XT30 – 30A (60A)
- XT60 connectors – 60A (120A)