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Author Topic: Radial wire type  (Read 1954 times)
K2OWK
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« on: April 21, 2012, 03:29:06 PM »

I have a question about the best type of wire that I should use for a radial ground system. I can buy 14 ga AWG THHN wire PVC insulated in eather stranded or solid copper conductor. It costs about $50.00 per 500 feet. I can also use the same wire in 16 ga for a little less money. I would like to know which of these types of wire would be best for this purpose, or can someone recommend a suitable low priced wire that will work as well?

Thank you,

73s

K2OWK
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W8AAZ
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« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2012, 05:06:43 PM »

It does not need to be very heavy wire, I don't think, for a typical ham vertical.  But if it is steel core it will eventually rot away in the soil. It does not need to be insulated though. Just that the more radials, the merrier.  I once had a Hustler vertical ground mounted and installed some thinnish, maybe 18 ga. bare wire that I got for next to nothing with it.  I don't know if it was good to last for maybe 25 years, but it worked fine for me. I put down a whole lot of them. Just slit the soil and pushed down the layed out radials in the slot. People used to use that alum. solid clothesline wire alot, when it was cheap. But no need to use heavy guage stuff so save some money.  Unless you are going with above ground floating radials.  Then they have to endure the elements like wind and ice.
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W9GB
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« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2012, 05:22:26 PM »

Quote
I have a question about the best type of wire that I should use for a radial ground system. I can buy 14 ga AWG THHN wire PVC insulated in either stranded or solid copper conductor. It costs about $50.00 per 500 feet.
Barry -

I use 14AWG THHN Stranded for ground radials, but you could use Solid.
You can use other wire sizes/types -- if that is readily available to you (free, cheap)

I remember buying 500 foot spools of AWG 14 for $19.95 ... before the late 1990s building boom.
Last time I priced a 500' spool, it was $39.95.  I did not know that it is now $50 for that 500 feet.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2012, 05:27:09 PM by W9GB » Logged
N3WAK
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« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2012, 05:33:21 PM »

Barry--I use the 500 foot rolls of 14AWG THNN stranded from Lowes.  It's not cheap, but it does the job.  I've always assumed that the insulation helps protect the wire from lawnmowers and the elements.  I would happily use the same in 18AWG--presumably it's cheaper--but I haven't found it in any of the big box stores in town. 

73, Tony
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K9IUQ
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« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2012, 05:41:28 PM »

I can also use the same wire in 16 ga for a little less money.
73s

I was an instrument Tech before I retired. The company that I worked for used 16ga stranded wire for control wiring. This company also constantly did upgrades, installing new equipment and dismantling old. When old equipment was retired the electricians would pull the wires out of the conduit and put in big lugs. They not only did this with 16ga control wires but they did it with T-lead wiring also. T-Leads were always black insulation and varied in size depending on the size of the motor. My company would collect this wire for months and then sell it for scrap. It could not be re-used for fear of a cut in the insulation.

Since I was an instrument tech and a very good friend of the Electrician Boss, I would regularly get a pass to take some of this wire home. I did this for years and years. I still have barrels of wire even tho I have been retired for a while. Almost every antenna I have put up in the last 30 years came from this scrap wire. I also have used thousands of feet of 16ga wire for radials.

I have run out of 16ga wire. Lately I have been using 14-12 ga wire for radial use. I much prefer the 16ga wire. 16 ga wire can not be bought at Lowes or Home Depot. They are afraid homeowners would use it for circuits.

They only problem I had with it is most of the 16ga wire I got was red. Very colorful in green grass.

Use any wire that you can get cheap or free, ga does not matter for radials but I would stick with copper wire.

Stan K9IUQ
« Last Edit: April 21, 2012, 05:50:17 PM by K9IUQ » Logged
KA3NXN
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« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2012, 06:34:41 PM »

Hey Guys,

I did a search for 14AWG THNN on eBay and I have found 500' rolls from about $25-$45. Also look at the shipping. I'm also in the same boat, I just laid down a bunch of radials and I want to put some more but the wire os so expensive. At least on eBay it cheaper than Lowes. I'm getting a few 500' rolls delivered for $35.00 each.
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W9GB
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« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2012, 07:18:27 PM »

Quote
I would happily use the same in 18AWG--presumably it's cheaper--but I haven't found it in any of the big box stores in town. 
18 AWG Lamp (zip) cord is sold from 100 and 500 foot spools.
Many hardware stores sell 18-2 in brown, black, white, or clear by the foot for lamp repair.

You can split the conductors for radials.  Commercial renovation & building sites traditionally provided scrap wire.  However, with the price of copper and metals the scavengers in roving pick-up trucks (aka: Dumpster divers) will likely beat you to it.
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K2OWK
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« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2012, 08:30:58 PM »

Thanks everyone for your answers. I will try to look around for some cheep wire in the 14 to 18 gauge category. I also thought that an insulated conductor would last longer in the ground then bare wire. I want to start with 500 feet of radial wire on my 31 foot S9 (if they ever get any in at Cheep Ham from LDG). If I need to I will add more later on. I think 500 feet should be a good start.

Thanks again.

73s

K2OWK
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N4OGW
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« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2012, 06:45:24 AM »

Get solid rather than stranded if you have a choice. When you need to fix a radial connection later on, it is MUCH easier later on to clean corrosion off of solid copper rather than stranded. It's usually cheaper than stranded as well.

Tor
N4OGW
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WA2LLN
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« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2012, 07:05:54 AM »

Check out this on-line seller.  Bare copper, or tinned ("bus wire") should be fine for radials.  Prices for 16ga are not bad.  https://wesbellwireandcable.com

Another source for 16ga bare copper on 1000ft spools is Ham Radio Bookstore.  http://radiobooks.com

--
Art
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K3GM
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« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2012, 08:08:40 AM »

I run a traditional, and extensive 14AWG THNN copper radial field for my vertical setup.  But 3 years ago I deployed a 160m inverted L right when copper prices were thru the roof. I decided to try high tensil aluminum electric fence wire for that radial field.  These radials, like those used for the vertical were laid and pinned onto the ground of my small field behind my house.  To date they show no signs of corrosion and still gleam in the sun.  I don't think I'd trust the material for burial, but it appears to weather well under the thatch of the field grass, and it's very cheap.

By the way, here's the method I used for cutting all of the radials for my vertical.
http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a96/TwoSevenRight/cutting_radials.jpg

Since the accuracy of length was unimportant, I sunk 2 posts 16' apart.  I attached the spool end to a nail in the post, then walked 'round and 'round until all of the wire was off the spool.  I then cut each turn at the starting post yielding fifteen 32' radials with one short one, or I cut every other turn which giving me seven 64' radials plus one that was a bit shorter.  I used this method with ten 500' spools of wire.  If they ever dig up that field after I'm gone, someone is going to be scratching their head at the amount of wire that is out there.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2012, 08:13:34 AM by K3GM » Logged
WB6BYU
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« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2012, 08:34:40 AM »

I'd probably look for a spool of #22 to #28 magnet wire for radials.  If you are putting
down enough radials the current in any one wire is a small fraction of the total, so there
is no need to use anything larger.

Our local electronic surplus store often has spools of wire sold by weight.  Think the last
reel I got was nearly 1000 feet of #22 stranded, insulated hookup wire for $7.  I use
that for antennas (dipoles for 80m and 160m so far) but it would also work for radials.
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