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Cable A vs Cable B

Thermostat Wire vs. Sprinkler Wire: How Do They Compare?

Thermostat and sprinkler wires are often compared as both are copper low-voltage wiring of the same 18 AWG Gauge. How do they compare? Can you substitute one for the other?

What is the thermostat wire?

A thermostat wire is an 18 AWG low-voltage copper wire with five conductors color-coded in different colors: red hot wire, white heat wire, yellow cooling wire, green fan wire, and blue common wire. The wire is exclusively used for wiring thermostats and is not used for other applications. 

What is the sprinkler wire?

A sprinkler wire is used in automatic sprinkler and irrigation systems, including the simplest ones used to water the lawn and the more complex industrial ones. The goal of the sprinkler wire is to run from the controller to the valves so that they open in time to pour the water. Sprinkler wire is rated for direct burial as it has to be buried in the ground as it is installed. It has excellent UV resistance.

  A sprinkler wire is often color-coded in white, with additional control wires color-coded in different colors. Common sizes of sprinkler wire are 16 AWG and 18 AWG. Though it is theoretically possible, a sprinkler wire is not often used in applications other than irrigation systems. Depending on the manufacturing, a sprinkler wire can double as a UF-B cable. In this case, it can be used in all applications in which a UF-B cable is used.

Can I Use Sprinkler Wire For Thermostat and Vice Versa?

As both are 18 AWG low-voltage copper wire, you can use sprinkler wire for your thermostat in the absence of your thermostat wire. There will not be any voltage drops, and you can theoretically use a sprinkler wire for any length of a run. The issue here will be color-coding, which is not consistent with the color-coding of the thermostat wire. To avoid confusion, you should label your sprinkler wire.

Swapping one for the other does not work the other way around. A thermostat wire cannot be used for a sprinkler wire because it is not ranked for direct burial.

If anything, it is best to keep sprinkler wire and thermostat wire to their respective applications. The differences in price are not significant to swap one for the other for budgeting reasons. At Nassau National Cable, you can buy high-quality thermostat wire and sprinkler wire at excellent prices.

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