The Benefits of Tracer Wire

Kelly Benjamin
February 4, 2015

Benefits of Tracer Wire

Tracer wire (also known as locating wire and electric wire tracer) is an underrated multi-use, general-purpose wire that has many uses in residential, commercial, and industrial settings. Its common uses include wiring circuits, internal appliance wiring, and machine tool wiring. Common application uses include control panels, refrigeration equipment, air conditioning equipment, and more. The robust wire has many advantages for use in many applications, including locating plastic pipes and fiber optic lines.

Contractors often overlook instances where electric wire tracer is necessary, though THHN is mistakenly used. Durable, flexible, and insulated wire is imperative for underground tracer wire applications, like connecting houses or buildings. Plastic pipes and fiber optics are needed and THHN is used in TH/THW’s place, which becomes problematic, as it lacks the insulation necessary to sustain over time. The nylon covering of THHN is susceptible to water and moisture damage, causing breakdown of the wiring itself in extreme conditions. The wear and erosion on the THHN make it useless over the course of several years and will need to be replaced once or twice during the building project’s lifespan.

Underground tracer wire is laid alongside underground pipes and lines during installation and is then used to locate them at a later date for safe digging. For instance, if a gas leak or cable fault occurs, the pipe or line will need to be dug up to find the exact location of the problem. Because THHN can wear after being subjected to extreme conditions, the wire may only last a maximum of about 30 years.

Contrary to THHN, TH/THW wire is made up of a high molecular weight and high-density polyvinyl compound (or PVC). This makes it resistant to heat, moisture, chemicals, oils, abrasions, and crushing. It is capable of withstanding temperatures up to 90 degrees Celsius. Tracer wire is available from Performance Wire and Cable in sizes 14- 8 6 AWG, standard and custom lengths, and an array of colors specific to intended application needs.

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