What Kind of Wire Should I Use for Wiring Wired Security Sensors?

The recommended wire gauge is typically 22 AWG for standard sensors and 18 AWG for higher power consumption devices.

Wire Gauge

NOTE: The numbers used to measure gauge (AWG) are, somewhat counter-intuitively, lower for thicker gauge. For example, 22 gauge is thicker than 24 gauge. 

Wire Type

  • Solid vs. Stranded Wire:

    • Both 22 AWG solid and stranded wires are appropriate.
    • The choice depends on installation needs; stranded wire offers more flexibility.
  • Conductors:

    • 2-conductor wire is generally sufficient for basic sensor wiring.
    • For powered devices or complex installations, 4-conductor wire is better.

Using Ethernet Cable for Sensor Wiring

  • Cat5/5e/6 Ethernet Cable:
    • Comprises 4 twisted pairs (8 cores in total), with a 24-gauge thickness.
    • While it's overkill for most applications, it's useful if existing wiring is present.
    • Theoretically, it can support 4 contact sensors or 2 powered sensors.

Considerations for Specific Installations

  • Length of Wire Runs:

    • Longer runs may require thicker gauge wire to prevent voltage drop, especially for high-power devices.
  • Environment and Routing:

    • Outdoor or exposed installations might need more durable wire or additional protection.
    • Wire routing (through walls, ceilings, etc.) affects the wire type choice.

Conclusion

In summary, 22 AWG wire is typically recommended for standard security sensors, while 18 AWG is better for high-power devices. The choice between solid and stranded wire, as well as the number of conductors, should be based on specific installation requirements. Ethernet cables like Cat5/5e/6 can also be used, especially for retrofitting in existing wired environments. Proper wire selection and installation are key for the effective operation of wired security systems.