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mtw vs thhn wire

In our This vs. That series, we're comparing (and contrasting) two seemingly similar products. A lot of products seem the same at first glance but can greatly affect the outcome of your next application. Today, we're taking a closer look at MTW and THHN wire.

MTW wire and THHN wire are electrical PVC wires used in building applications. MTW and THHN are built in accordance with the National Electrical Code for general purpose wiring for installation in conduits or other recognized raceways. These cables share several overlapping characteristics, although there are a few distinct differences that set them apart.

What is MTW Wire?

MTW stands for Machine Tool Wire, and as the name implies, is primarily used for the wiring of machine tools, appliances, and control cabinets. It is a PVC hookup wire and, although machine tool wire is qualified for many wiring applications, it is a simply constructed wire made of a highly stranded bare copper conductor.

This high stranding of bare copper gives the wire more flexibility than the THHN building wire. Also available with a tinned copper conductor, MTW wires offer increased corrosion protection and moisture-resistance. MTW wire is resistant to heat, moisture, oil, and gasoline. It is rated for up to 600V and has a temperature range of -25 °C to 90 °C. MTW wire passes the VW-1 Flame Test and meets several UL ratings including 1028, 1283, and 1284.

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What is THHN wire?

THHN wire stands for Thermoplastic High Heat-resistant Nylon. This wire is made of thermoplastic material (PVC insulation), can withstand high temperatures, and features a nylon jacket. THHN wire is a building wire and is primarily used to carry electrical currents to external power sources. THHN wire is rated for up to 600V, with a temperature range of up to 90°C in dry locations and 75°C in wet locations. THHN wire features either a bare copper or aluminum conductor and comes in both stranded or solid, depending on the size.

How Do They Compare?

Although both MTW wire and THHN wire are suited for use in similar applications, there are a few characteristics that set them apart and can make a big difference when trying to decide which type of cable will best meet your needs.

MTW and THHN can both feature a bare copper conductor, but THHN is also available with an aluminum conductor depending on the size, and MTW wire is available with a tinned copper conductor. At the core, MTW offers a higher strand count in the conductor, making it more flexible than THHN, which also features a nylon coating that further restricts movement.

MTW vs THHN Specs for Construction
MTW Wire THHN Wire
Conductor Size 22 AWG-1000 MCM 14 AWG-1000 MCM
Conductor Type Stranded Solid or Stranded
Conductor Material Bare or Tinned Copper Bare Copper or Aluminum
Insulation Material Polyvinylchloride (PVC) Polyvinylchloride (PVC) with Nylon Jacket
Max. Temperature 90°C 90°C
Max. Voltage 600V 600V

If you’re unsure if MTW or THHN would work best for your wire and cable needs, let Allied help you out! Compare full THHN and MTW specs or give your sales rep a call at 800-472-5655 with any questions.