Bob Dolph Answers Questions on Wiring, System Documentation

Q: Some techs say that I should wire my systems with solid wire and other say stranded. Which is better?

A: In many cases you can use either, but there are arguments on both sides. Many techs like solid wire because it is often cheaper and will terminate easily. It also will fish through small equipment holes easier. On the other hand, it is much easier to nick a solid wire and have it just barely break, which causes an intermittent circuit or swinger. If you do strip solid wire, use a stripper that pulls the sheath and not cut it.

I would overall recommend stranded, with an overall jacket. It gives you that extra margin of protection from installation errors that might happen on that long day when you might be rushing a little more than you should to get the job finished. Stranded cable can have a little nick on a few stands and still be fine. The extra overall sheath protects against staples, nails, etc.  It is also more flexible and easier than solid to handle.

Q: I am sick and tired of opening up a panel and either not finding system documentation or finding it on the back of a gum wrapper wrapped in a ball. Any suggestions?

A: Yes, carry some 8.5 inch x 11 inch mail folders with you. Cut them in half and form a pocket by taping them with a nice strip of packing tape to the inside of the alarm panel door. Give the tech time to document a job properly with a system information chart. At the minimum, use the sample chart that the manufacturers usually supply with the install manual. Use carbon paper so you have a copy for the office.  Place all documentation, including a copy of the install manual, in the pocket for quick reference. Secure the panel with a tamper resistant screw. The install is not finished until you get the carbon copy of the system at the office.

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