FPV Wires and Connectors – Sizes, Current and Selection

by Oscar

This article explains why and how wire and connector size can affect the performance of your FPV drone (aka quadcopters). I will recommend some places where you can get these battery connectors and wires from.


How to choose Electrical Wires for FPV Drones

Wire Thickness, Resistance and Current Rating

Resistance is proportional to the electrical conductivity of a material, cross section area and length. We can’t change conductivity so that leaves us:

  • thinner wire = more resistance
  • longer wire = more resistance

Higher resistance is a bad thing as it leads to heat and power loss. The more current you apply through the wire, the more serious the problem becomes, that’s why a wire has current rating.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to keep your wires as short as possible. You can also use thicker wires, but they are also heavier so it’s not always ideal.

Exceeding the current rating

Thinner wires have higher resistance and therefore will cause higher voltage drop between the two ends, and you will also lose power which turns into heat. When drawing more current than the wire can handle, it will simply start to heat up due to resistance. In extreme cases it can melt the solder joints and even the insulation.

If the wire size is too small it can become the bottleneck in your power system and struggles to deliver the power required to the ESC’s and motors.

Single-strand vs. Multi-strand

Wires with higher strand count are more flexible and easier to work with than single-stranded wires. We strongly recommend using Multi-stranded wires in your quadcopter builds.

Insulation Material – Silicone All The Way!

Silicone insulated wire is the best for RC applications. Silicone wire is much more flexible than the standard PVC insulation, it’s great as multirotor frames and components keep getting smaller.

Silicone wires are also lightweight and can tolerate a wider temperature range, which is important when it comes to soldering as the insulation doesn’t melt or shrink back when you apply heat. Overall they just hold up better in extreme environments.

Are red and black (or other colours) wires different?

No, they are the same wires, just different in colour, you can use any colour you want. But conventionally we use red for positive power and black for ground, which makes it easier to visualize what is what. We strongly recommend you do the same.

Colour wires are often used for signals.

What AWG wire should I use?

Wire size (diameter) is measured in AWG (American Wire Gauge), the smaller the number, the larger it is.

In order to minimize the weight of our craft, it’s important that we choose the smallest possible wires. Here are what I normally use to build a 5″ racing drone:

  • Battery XT60 Pigtail: 14AWG for powerful setup, 16AWG for light weight builds
  • ESC/Motor: 18AWG for powerful setup, 20AWG for light weight builds
  • Signals between components / Low Current (under 1A): 28AWG

Current Rating Look Up Table

To choose what AWG wires you need, first work out what your quad’s max amp draw is, then look it up in the table/guide below. The current rating is the continuous current.

Here is an example guideline from an electrical manufacturer.

current draw wire awg thickness diameter table chart

Example – Wire AWG and Current ratings

The following table is what I personally follow when considering the max burst current for a short period of time. Please note that current rating of a wire has to do with the actual material and quality, this guide is only an estimation for the copper wires I have experience with.

Burst Current: 10AWG Wire - 250A 12AWG Wire - 160A 14AWG Wire - 110A 16AWG Wire - 80A 18AWG Wire - 50A 20AWG Wire - 30A 22AWG Wire - 24A 24AWG Wire - 20A

Using appropriate wire size can minimize the voltage drop and power loss due to resistance, and the risk of overheating the wire.

On most of my 5″ builds, I prefer to use 14 AWG wires even though the maximum current is slightly over the current rating in my guideline. This shouldn’t be a problem because: firstly, the wires are so short; secondly, the current bursts only lasts a few seconds, even if you held full throttle for longer, I doubt your battery could keep up anyway.

Thinner wires are lighter, more flexible and easier to work with too.

Avoiding Bottlenecks

When connecting 2 wires, the maximum current that can be passed through them is always limited by the smaller wire. So when connecting 2 components, it’s always best to match the wire gauge that is already installed on the existing component.

For example for an XT60 connector pigtail (the connection between battery and PDB), I normally use the same gauge wires on the battery discharge lead. For example, if the batteries come with 14awg wire, then I would use 14awg wire too for the XT60 pigtail.

Another example, if I want to extend the ESCs power wires, and they came with 18awg wires, then I would use 18awg wires.

This way usually works and provides the best reliability to your system. You may use thicker wires, it won’t bring any benefits but extra weight.

Weight per meter:

  • 24 AWG – 4.5g
  • 20 AWG – 7.5g
  • 18 AWG – 11g
  • 16 AWG – 20g
  • 14 AWG – 27g
  • 12 AWG – 39g
  • 10 AWG – 61g

Why current ratings are different from different sources?

You might find different standards and current ratings from other electrical wires manufacturers. They represent the maximum current for which the heating and the losses are below a specified level. It all depends on the material and industry standard.

Does Voltage matter?

Voltage is not that important for RC applications, since the voltage range we deal with are normally within 30V. Note that the wires we use are normally designed with a much, much higher voltage (e.g. hundreds of volts and higher)

Some More Tips

Wire Quality

The chart above is based off of decent quality copper wire. Cheap, low quality wire might be made of brass or aluminium instead, which could have a negative effect on the max current it can conduct and handle. Therefore, make sure to buy wires from trustworthy sellers.

Connectors Rating

Like wires, connectors also have current limitation, so you should choose carefully based on the application to avoid it becoming the “bottleneck” of your system. Here are the guideline – continuous and burst current.

  • JST connector – 5A (10A)
  • 2mm bullet connectors – 20A (40A)
  • XT30 – 30A (60A)
  • XT60 connectors – 60A (180A)

When to use XT30? 20A or higher current. When to use XT60? 50A or higher current. You can use overkill your drone with a bigger connector, it won’t bring too much benefit, but adds more weight.

More Info and Discussion

We have a similar topics on the forum if you’d like to learn more about this subject and like to comment.

Where to buy LiPo Battery Connectors – XT60 & XT30

The XT60 and XT30 connectors share the same design but are in different sizes and are rated for different max currents. As suggested by the official datasheet, the XT60 is rated for 60 amps while the XT30 is rated for 30 amps, hence the names.

However this test confirming that the XT30 can support much higher continuous current of up to 60A without any problem as long as the wires is large enough. And this test confirmed that XT60 can safely handle up to 180A burst current for 10 seconds without problems.

XT60 Connectors

XT60 14AWG Pigtail if you are too lazy to solder your own…

XT30 Connectors

Where to Buy Silicon Electrical Wires

12 AWG (for XT60 pigtail, high power 5″ racing quad)

14 AWG (for XT60 pigtail, medium power 5″ racing quad)

16 AWG (for XT30 and XT60 pigtail, low power up to 80A burst)

18 AWG (for XT30, ESC power, and motor wire extension, up to 50A burst)

28AWG (for signal)

Edit History

  • May 2014 – Article created
  • Apr 2017 – Article revised
  • Nov 2017 – Added product shopping options

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Dick T 9th June 2022 - 1:22 am

When you say voltage does not matter, it does since power a cable can handle is W = V * I. So AWG 18 cable under 120V can handle 1.5A for 180W. The same cable at 7.4V can handle about 24A. Mind you cable spec varies from manuf to manuf, length of cable, it’s resistance and material to name a few impacts calculation. It is important that you are also looking at the right chart since a chart for 30V (RC environment) and a chart for 120V (home wiring) will be different.

Oscar 9th June 2022 - 1:09 pm

We are discussing wires/connectors for FPV drone use, the maximum voltage we deal with are only up to 6S (25V)

Nick 15th June 2022 - 3:49 pm

You are completely wrong! Power dissipated in cable DOES NOT related to voltage passed trough cable. AT ALL.
Ohm laws says, that Voltage equal Current multiplied by Resistance. We have to use this formula to find voltage dropped in cable, then we have to use this voltage to find power dissipated in cable.
For example, 1 meter of 18AWG copper conductor cable has resistance ~0.02 Ohm. If we pass 1.5A trough this cable, voltage drop will be 0.02Ohm*1.5A = 0.03V and power dissipated in cable will be 1.5A*0.03V = 0.045W. If we pass 24A trough this cable, voltage drop will be 0.02Ohm*24A = 0.48V and power dissipated in cable will be 24A*0.48V = 11.52W.

Francisco Duran 5th April 2022 - 9:24 am

Thank you, great article!

jimmy liang 4th October 2019 - 5:36 pm

Very good info for me. thank you very much

Luciano Gonzalez 10th August 2019 - 10:06 pm

Hi Oscar how are you? Really nice stuff here in you site, thanks for all data you provide !!
Just a quick question: is there any way to install GPS Modul to SucceX Mini F4 V2 Flight Tower System 2-6S with 500MW VTX??
Thanks in advance

Dale Erickson 7th July 2019 - 4:41 pm

hello, I just recieved a set of 20Amp EMAX bullet ESC and noted that the PDB to ESC +/- leads were 20awg
I thought that a little low, I think 20awg is ok for the three ESC to MOTOR wires as the load is distributed acros 33% more wire but is that not too low of a guage for the power supply to ESC?

Vlad 7th July 2019 - 7:02 am

Hello Oscar. I’ve completed 5 inch quad build. Everything works the way it should but I haven’t flown it yet.

My question is about the wiring harness which connects 4-in-1 ESC with flight controller. Will those thin harness wires be able to supply enough current without burning down or sagging the voltage? The flight controller gets 6S battery voltage via the harness. Do I have to upsize the Vbat and ground wires by removing them from the harness and direct soldering 22 AWG or 26 AWG jumpers between the ESC main battery pads and the Flight Controller Vbat pads? Can I add more components like GPS to the Flight Controller with my current set up?

I used Lumenier LUX F7 Ultimate Flight Controller which supplies power to everything listed below:
Two micro eagle FPV cameras via 5V
TBS Unify EVO VTx via switchable Vbat pad
TBS Crossfire Diversity Nano RX via 4V5 pad
5V buzzer

Your help is much appreciated!!!

Oscar 15th July 2019 - 5:04 pm

Your FC doesn’t take much current, the provided harness is fine.
Yea you can add GPS.

Daniel 9th January 2019 - 10:28 am

if i have a 4in1 esc does that mean i need wire that can handle 112a or just 28a



Garrett 15th November 2018 - 10:48 pm

Great information in this post, thank you!

Le krux 11th September 2018 - 7:59 am

Which wire size is suitable to connect the escs to a 40A rated brushless motor? I am always using the default cable attached to the motors But my new motors came with wires and motors detached (have to solder the 3 wires to the pads on the motors). Do I use a 40/3 =~13.3A rated wire ie. Awg 20?

Pinak Oza 23rd November 2017 - 5:51 pm

Very nice and informative article. Thanks for sharing this.

My quad DH410 acts weird for what I need your advice. When I first built it, it was about 1400gms (with no gimbal and camera) including 4000mAh 4S lipo. It used to give about 11 min of hover. But then I decided to slim it down. I made many changes in wiring and connectors esp and successfully reduced it’s weight by 100-120 gms. Mainly I removed all bullet connectors from each and motor and also reduced the wire gauge of all 4 Sunnysky X2212 980kv motors from 18 to 22.

Now Pixhawk gives low battery alarm in just 30sec of flight ending up in RTL. BUT with 2200mAh 3S battery, it still flies for 9 min (total 950gm wt). With 4000mAh 4S, just 30 seconds. I have 2 batteries – 4S 4000mAh, and with both it behaves same. So can it be a gauge of motor wires triggering RTL? Telemetry shows voltage literally crashing from 16.4v to 13.8 in few seconds. Please advise; thanks.

Oscar 28th November 2017 - 2:23 pm

I think the problem you described is caused by something else though, try swap the wires back, you shouldn’t really change out original wires unless they need to be upgraded to larger gauge. Also 4S is going to draw more current than 3S, so you really shouldn’t use smaller Awg wires.

Pinak Oza 21st August 2018 - 11:06 pm

Thanks Oscar. Sorry for toooo late reply. The problem solved long ago, almost in 1-2 days of above question. It was actually the led wires that were creating the problem. Now quad giving me good flight time with 22 gauge wires.

Seth 27th September 2017 - 2:41 am

Hi Oscar I have these emax Bullet 30A esc’s gearbest.com/multi-rotor-parts/pp_603577.html what wire do you think the red and black ones are?

Oscar 5th October 2017 - 1:48 pm

18awg :)

Dave 6th December 2016 - 5:02 pm

Hi Oscar,
What AWG wires would you recommend for the following:

[1] from [Flight Controller] >>> [KISS ESC 2-5S 24A Race Edition]?
[2] from [Battery 3S/4S] to [PDB]?


Oscar 21st December 2016 - 6:33 am Reply
Markus 12th October 2016 - 1:03 pm

Hi Oscar,

I have these ESC’s
and want to know the cross-section of the power cables (red and black).
Do you know the thickness of these wires?!

Thanks in advance for your help!!!!


Oscar 13th October 2016 - 3:44 pm

those are 20AWG wires, you can look up the thickness now :)

Mathijs Groothuis 13th September 2016 - 11:32 am

I have 20A littlebee’s and 2300KV E-Max. Should I then go for the theoratical values of:

4 X 30 A (Littlebee’s Burst) which makes about 120 AMPS, needing 12 AWG?

Still need to buy batteries, but can’t find the AWG size of them (looking on HobbyKing)

Oscar 14th September 2016 - 2:30 pm

nah just match the size of the cable with the batteries you are using, and you should be fine. For most 1800mah 4S 65C for example they normally use 14Awg.

Bruno 20th March 2017 - 3:08 am

Oscar i noticed many 4S battery are now coming with 12 AWG wire (Lumenier 1300mAh 4s 75c LiPo Battery (XT60), PULSE Graphene 1550mAh 4S 14.8V 95C Battery w/ XT60, Thunder Power Adrenaline Series 1300mah 4s 80c, Tattu etc, etc, etc) Should i still use a 14 AWG as usual or i should upgrade my battery pigtail?

Oscar 24th March 2017 - 12:42 am

If you don’t mind the few extra grams, I think it’s safer to use 12awg :) But I don’t think 14awg would cause any problem either :)

Erick Cruz 16th June 2016 - 5:15 am

Thank you for this useful article.

Just wanted to ask, I’m planning to tranfer my existing quad to a 500 frame and would need to extend the existing wires I have from my 2212kv motor to my 20A ESC. I had trouble finding 20AWG wires and only found 18AWG wires. Would there be any specific issues I might encounter if I hook those up to extend the existing wires?

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Oscar 19th June 2016 - 10:31 pm

apart from more weight, it’s absolutely fine running thicker wires.. or combining different awg wires, shouldn’t be any issue.

Russ 19th October 2015 - 2:02 pm

Hi Oscar,
The ESC KDE 35A might not be the correct esc. Typically for the motors that are being used the KDE 55A are recommended.

Chris 28th August 2015 - 3:59 am

Hi Oscar,

Thank you for writing very useful and informative articles. They have certainly helped enormously with my quad build.

I would like to ask you advice in regards to wire type when connecting the ESC signal wires to the FC.

I run BL30A ESC (Opto). I plan on replacing the signal and ground wires that are on the ESC’s with just a single signal wire. (The ESC’s will be grounded to the PDB). I would like some advice if possible in regards to wire type. Should I run stranded bare copper wire or tinned copper wire?

I have read that tinned copper wire provides extra durability to the copper wire but I am wondering if bare copper provides better signal performance than tinned?

Also what AWG do you recommend using for the ESC signal wire, 26AWG? or thicker?

Thanks in advance. :)

Oscar 28th August 2015 - 12:04 pm

Hi Chris
Any electrical wire should be fine. 26awg is perfect, signal wire doesn’t carry much current, and it’s usually fairly short anyway.

moosestang 23rd August 2015 - 3:52 pm

So i’m having an oscillation problem on a small quad i built with 18a spider esc’s. The thing is small, 141 grams with battery. I’ve tried every pid combination i could thing of, tpa, etc, etc, but still it oscillates at full throttle. Googling it i found someone that supposedly fixed their oscillation by changing to a higher gauge wire for the escs, so i looked over all my wires and the battery wire is 18awg, but my jst power wire is 22awg. I’ve ordered some 18awg jst connectors, but i wonder if this bottle neck in the power distribution can cause such oscillations? I have the esc’s soldered to a pdb.

Oscar 24th August 2015 - 11:15 am

anything is possible in this hobby :D but 22awg wire for the main power cable does sound small, and when ESCs might not get enough power at high throttle and start to struggle.
best thing to do is check your motor/prop combo and see how much current they draw to work out best awg wire to use… otherwise you can just use same awg wire on the battery.

moosestang 24th August 2015 - 9:57 pm

sorry, it’s actually 20awg, but still it’s a bottle neck. it could be a lot of things i know. I end up replacing the esc’s with dys 20a just to rule them out i’m sure.

Zewill 30th July 2015 - 1:31 am

Hi Oscar,
I have a question regarding the jst connectors. I have a 3s lipo 1500 mah 35c with xt60 connector with 14 or 16 awg. I would like to do an adaptor for jst but my jst wires are quite fin (22 awg). Would that be problematic? What could happen? It’s only to power a light plane so 1 engine esc and 3 servos! Thanks!

Oscar 30th July 2015 - 11:06 am

depends on your max current draw through that JST connector? For around 10A your 22awg wire should be fine… you might get away with a bit higher current going through it, but it might start to heat up.

Jo 17th March 2015 - 4:53 am

Great article and very informative!

I would love to have your help with something which is related to this article.

My X8 octocopter won’t lift off when I add more payload to it. Right now the AUW is 15lbs (with no gimbal, cameras or FPV accessories). When I connect one battery it hovers fine but will only fly for a few mins, but when I add two batteries, in parallel, then due to the added weight it takes off for two seconds and lands hard as it starts yawing to the right.

My power distribution board had 3.5mm connectors but changed them to 5.5mm Castle Creation connectors. Because of that I replaced also the bullet connectors from the ESCs end side to 4mm. I also upgraded the wire to 10AWG but even after doing all that I’m still having the same issue. Now the only connectors I haven’t replaced yet are the motor bullet plugs from the motors, as well as the connectors on the speed controllers to the motor side which are 3.5mm.

The propellers I use are 15×5.5 T-motor equivalent.
Frame: Gryphon Dynamics GD-X8
Motors: KDE FX4014 380kv
Battery: “MonsterRC” 35C 6s 10000mAh
FC: NAZA V2 (with low voltage alarm disabled)
AUW: Estimated to be 14-15lbs without gimbal, camera or other components.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Oscar 20th March 2015 - 2:51 pm

sorry i don’t have much experience with multirotor of that size.
but by the sound of it, it’s a power issue? could you upload a video in this group?

Alexander James Curtis 27th November 2015 - 3:53 pm

I’ll answer it. That’s far too heavy a battery for the power being generated by those motors. 20,000 6s in insane. Try a 5000 6s at most