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Choosing the Right Sprinkler Wire for Your Irrigation System

When setting up or revamping your irrigation system, the type of sprinkler wire you select is crucial for ensuring efficient function and longevity. The sprinkler wire acts as the conduit between the irrigation controller and the valves, telling them when to open and close according to the programmed schedule. Here’s a guide to help you make the best choice for your system.

Understanding Wire Specifications

Conductor Size: The conductor size, often referred to as the gauge, is critical. Common sizes include 18-gauge and 16-gauge, with 18-gauge being suitable for most residential systems. For longer wire runs or commercial systems, a thicker wire such as 16-gauge may be necessary.

Number of Strands: Sprinkler wire is available with multiple strands, typically ranging from two to thirteen. The number of strands should match the number of valves in your irrigation system plus one for the common wire. For instance, a system with five valves will require a wire with at least six strands.

Insulation: Look for wires with high-quality, UV-resistant insulation to protect against the elements, particularly if the wire will be exposed to sunlight or buried underground.

Color Coding: Wires with different colored strands can be beneficial for organizing and identifying connections to various valves.

Types of Sprinkler Wire

Single Strand: This type of wire is used when only one valve needs to be connected. It’s less common than multi-strand wire in residential systems.

Multi-Strand: Most systems utilize multi-strand wire. It’s more convenient when running multiple lines to various control valves.

Direct Burial vs. Conduit

Direct Burial Wire: Designed to be buried underground without additional protection. This wire is often thicker and has a robust coat of insulation.

Wire in Conduit: If local codes require, or you prefer an added layer of protection, you can use thinner wire that runs through a protective conduit.

Considerations Before Purchase

  1. Length of Run: Calculate the distance between the controller and the farthest valve. Purchase enough wire to cover the distance with some extra length for slack and any future adjustments.
  2. Local Building Codes: Always check your local building codes and regulations as they may dictate the type of wire or installation method you must use.
  3. Interference: Consider electromagnetic interference if you’re running wires near power lines or other sources of interference; shielded cable might be required.
  4. Quality: Invest in good quality wire from reputable brands to avoid issues with performance or durability down the line.
  5. Wire Connectors: Use waterproof wire connectors specifically designed for use with sprinkler systems to prevent short circuits or corrosion.

By considering these factors, you will ensure you choose the right sprinkler wire for your system’s needs. Remember that proper installation is vital. If in doubt, consult with a professional for both advice on wire selection and installation to guarantee optimal functioning of your irrigation system.


If you have any questions or need any type of sprinkler system repair, the experts at SprinklerRepair.com will be glad to help. Give us a call or (888) 427-5022 to set an appointment.