Wire AWG Chart – Thickness Diameter For Quadcopter RC

What is AWG – Wire Gauge

American Wire Gauge (AWG) is a wire gauge standard based on the diameter of the wire. The diameter of the the wire chosen for RC models and quadcopter is important, because it determines how much current should go though. As you might know wider diameter wires (thicker) can handle more current.

I found that the higher strand count, the more current it can handle and the more flexible silicon wire is, which is best for RC applications.

What AWG wire should I choose?

Two ways to decide.

1. Simply work out what the maximum amp draw is, and look it up in this table. This is the continuous max current. The amp requirement can be larger for our hobby since we choose wire according to peak current (at 100% thorttle, which don’t normally last more than 10 seconds in most cases I guess?)

wire-awg-amp-diameter-resistance-chart

So generally this is the rules that I personally follow.

13AWG Wire - 100A
14AWG Wire - 80A
16AWG Wire - 50A
18AWG Wire - 30A
20AWG Wire - 20A
22AWG Wire - 10A

2. Use whatever gauge is on the component you’re using. For example if the batteries have 14awg wire, so I use 14awg to go from battery to power distribution. If the ESCs have 18awg power wires, so my power distribution is a bunch of 18awg wires connected to that 14awg. This way usually works and provides suitable wires for the components you are using.

Max Currents are different from source to source?

The “max currents” you read off of various tables are often different. They represent the maximum current for which the heating and losses are below a specified level, and each industry has different standard and specification. For RC quadcopter, the above table should be good enough.

Does Voltage matter?

Voltage is not relevant for our use in RC as the wire is designed nominal voltage of 600V and tested at 2000V.

Some More Tips

Wire Quality

The chart above is based off of decent quality copper wire. Cheap, low quality wire might not be made of copper but brass or aluminium, which could have a bad effect on the max current it can conduct. The consumers would not know this unless electrical tests are done on the wires. Therefore, make sure you buy the wires from trustworthy sellers.

Wire Connector

Also Limitation in amp draw of the wire does not account for any limitations on the attached connector. As an example, 22 AWG wire is good for up to 10 amps, but the JST/BEC connector is limited to 5-6 amps.

More Info and Discussion

We have a similar topics on the forum if you fancy more information.

19 thoughts on “Wire AWG Chart – Thickness Diameter For Quadcopter RC

  1. Dave

    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]?

    Thanks
    Dave

    Reply
  2. Markus

    Hi Oscar,

    I have these ESC’s
    (banggood.com/de/DYS-BL20A-Mini-20A-BLHeli-ESC-OPTO-2-4s-for-RC-Multicopter-p-975798.html)
    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!!!!

    Markus

    Reply
  3. Mathijs Groothuis

    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)

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      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.

      Reply
  4. Erick Cruz

    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!

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

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

      Reply
  5. Russ

    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.

    Reply
  6. Chris

    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. :)

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      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.

      Reply
  7. moosestang

    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.

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      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.

      Reply
      1. moosestang

        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.

  8. Zewill

    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!

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      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.

      Reply
  9. Jo

    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
    ESCs: KDE 35A
    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!

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      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?
      facebook.com/groups/Copter.Fans

      Reply
    2. Alexander James Curtis

      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

      Reply

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