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Old 06-27-2016, 08:23 AM   #1
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Default Number of conductors in a cable

I was at the local wire bandits buying some underground cable last week and the dude there said even Master Electricians have problems with this. The number of conductors in a cable always refers to insulated conductors. If you have a red, black, white and bare ground, for instance, it's three conductor. If you have a red, black, white and green, it's a four conductor.

I always specify exactly what I want. Cable is too expensive to screw it up.

Anyway, that's what happened last week. It wasn't a particularly eventful week .
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Old 06-27-2016, 08:29 AM   #2
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The ground is insulated in this bundle.

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Old 06-27-2016, 08:30 AM   #3
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The only time you count the ground is in SJ cord, for some strange reason.
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Old 06-27-2016, 08:31 AM   #4
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Maybe the thought is that if it's insulated it could be used as a hot wire?

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Old 06-27-2016, 08:36 AM   #5
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See, it IS confusing .
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Old 06-27-2016, 08:40 AM   #6
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See, it IS confusing .
I think that dude was confused. I've never heard the ground counted in Mc cable.

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Old 06-27-2016, 08:46 AM   #7
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I think that dude was confused. I've never heard the ground counted in Mc cable.

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Maybe it's Canadian. We don't have MC up here. What's the difference between MC and AC90?
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Old 06-27-2016, 08:50 AM   #8
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It is confusing if you don't deal with it every day. Make yourself a cheat sheet. You can't return cut wire and you don't want to get to the job and realize you should have asked for 12-4 MC instead of 12-3 MC. I know it's a pain but the time you don't check the order it will bite you in the rear.
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Old 06-27-2016, 09:40 AM   #9
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MC and AC-90 are the same thing, BX. Yes in Canada, the only time you include, count the ground is in cab tire.

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Old 06-27-2016, 09:44 AM   #10
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Kind of funny, I deal almost exclusively with ASLC at work and it is a single conductor #8 unshielded and ungrounded.
ASLC- Airfield Series Lighting Cable.

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Old 06-27-2016, 09:59 AM   #11
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Quote:
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MC and AC-90 are the same thing, BX. Yes in Canada, the only time you include, count the ground is in cab tire.

Tim.
Which makes sense since cab tire has an insulated ground.
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Old 06-27-2016, 11:19 AM   #12
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Quote:
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MC and AC-90 are the same thing, BX. Yes in Canada, the only time you include, count the ground is in cab tire.

Tim.
AC in this country is the same as BX. AC stands for armored cable and has a steel jacket while MC has an aluminum jacket that is much lighter than AC cable. I have not seen ac used around my area any more...
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Old 06-27-2016, 11:20 AM   #13
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AC never had an equipment grounding conductor either.. Maybe now it does but the jacket was used as the equipment grounding conductor along with a tiny steel wire strip that was run inside the armor
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Old 06-27-2016, 11:22 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Alwon View Post
AC in this country is the same as BX. AC stands for armored cable and has a steel jacket while MC has an aluminum jacket that is much lighter than AC cable. I have not seen ac used around my area any more...
Are you sure about that? I thought they made AC lite with aluminum sheath?
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Old 06-27-2016, 11:25 AM   #15
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That's the difference, AC-90 up here is an aluminum sheathed single or multi conductor cable. In Canada, you can not buy it without the ground. The old cable used a flat aluminum ribbon as ground.
I'm sure you can get steel flex but honestly everything I order comes aluminum, even a 4 inch.

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Old 06-27-2016, 12:00 PM   #16
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I used some stuff (2000-03?) thought it was AC that had an bare aluminum wire. It was supposed to be wrapped back on the corrugated aluminum sheathing. The insulated conductors were copper with an insulated ground. I prefer MC with the proper connectors.
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Old 06-27-2016, 05:39 PM   #17
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AC-90 has a bare ground.
MC has an insulated green.
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Old 06-27-2016, 05:46 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 99cents View Post
I was at the local wire bandits buying some underground cable last week and the dude there said even Master Electricians have problems with this. The number of conductors in a cable always refers to insulated conductors. If you have a red, black, white and bare ground, for instance, it's three conductor. If you have a red, black, white and green, it's a four conductor.
Yes , I've made that mistake.

Refering to insulated conductors only works great in Canada cause our 2 wire BX (AC-90) has a bare copper ground conductor.
2 wire MC on the other hand has an insulated ground. Used in the US.

Last edited by eddy current; 06-27-2016 at 06:29 PM.
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Old 06-27-2016, 06:39 PM   #19
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Are you sure about that? I thought they made AC lite with aluminum sheath?

I am not sure but that was the way ac or bx used to be. I have not seen AC cable in 20+ years
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Old 06-27-2016, 06:41 PM   #20
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Quote:
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Yes in Canada, the only time you include, count the ground is in cab tire.
Other multiconductor cables also count the green. Lapp cable, control cable, that sort of thing.
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