What on earth is AWG?

Friday, 16 September 2016  |  Richard

All across our website and in fact all across ANY website relating to electronics, wires, connectors or soldering you will see references to a unit called AWG.

But what does this actually mean?

AWG stands for American Wire Gauge. The smaller the awg number, the bigger the diameter of wire.

When I first came across this unit, I knew it was trying to tell me about the size of something, but I always found it extremely difficult to translate that into something that would make sense to me. If I was buying solder and the description said it was 18awg, I would think "yeah, that sounds about right", buy it and then find out that it was actually WAY to thick for what I wanted to achieve. so I would go back and try the 24 awg stuff instead. Trial and error wins the day!

If I said to you that something was 5mm wide, you could immediately picture, in your minds eye, exactly how wide that thing is. You could look down at you desk and almost "see" it. But, if you are anything like me, if I said that something was 22 awg, chances are you would find it quite difficult to imagine how thick that really is.

For us electronics guys, we have so much to think about every day, we just want to get into the fun stuff, so I thought I would write this ready reckoner style blog that will hopefully help you to immediately picture the correct size of wire or solder or crimp for a job when a description gives you it in awg.

Since awg is American, it lends itself better to direct translation to inches, but i've done the calculations so we can see them in mm.

 

AWG to mm

AWG Diameter in mm Area mm²
1 7.35 42.4
2 6.54 33.6
3 5.83 26.7
4 5.19 21.2
5 4.62 16.8
6 4.11 13.3
7 3.67 10.6
8 3.26 8.4
9 2.91 6.6
10 2.59 5.3
11 2.3 4.15
12 2.05 3.3
13 1.83 2.6
14 1.63 2
15 1.45 1.65
16 1.29 1.31
17 1.15 1
18 1.024 0.82
19 .912 0.65
20 .812 0.51 Nice Size For Solder
21 .723 0.41
22 .644 0.33
23 .573 0.25
24 .511 0.2
25 .455 0.16
26 .405 0.12 Good size for stranded hookup wire, can handle about 2A
27 .361 0.1
28 .321 0.08
29 .286 0.065
30 .255 0.05

 

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