How to Buy: Wire & Cable
Price vs. Qualityâ€œWhen buying wire and cable, price and quality are the biggest considerations," says Dan Budinoff, president, Security Specialists, Greenwich, Conn. â€œThere are very real differences in the quality of wire and cable, such as how durable a wire is when pulling it across a 100-foot ceiling. But price is the bigger concern, when it comes down to it,â€ Budinoff says.
Steve Oâ€™Connor, director of product development, A-1 Security Ltd., Las Vegas, agrees that price is the preeminent consideration when buying wire and cable.
â€œBecause we purchase large quantities of wire, cost is a major issue. One-thousand foot spools are ideal, with larger gauge speaker wire (14 and above) being purchased in 500-ft. spools. We tried 500-ft. spools for smaller gauge wire, but the installation benefits did not outweigh the additional costs,â€ Oâ€™Connor says.
Others in the industry, however, disagree.
â€œCost is an issue, as you can imagine, but having inventory ready is the key,â€ says Dan Jacquish, president, American Protective Systems Inc., Bridgewater, N.J.
The wire goes in first, so if a supplier does not have the wire we need, then the entire job is delayed.
â€œWe do large jobs for industry, so we are using larger-gauge multi-conductor fire wire in many cases. It is not stocked by the average supplier. Therefore, we use a jobber. He is in direct contact with the mills and knows their inventory on line. He actually stocks our most common wire spools in-house for immediate delivery. You only get that kind of service when you are a reliable, ongoing customer. Shopping for price, thereby saving a few dollars, is counter-productive and more costly in the end,â€ Jacquish says.
Technical Knock OutOn one hand, many dealers and integrators give due consideration to technical issues.
â€œDue to the length of our runs, shielding is critical. We buy only the best. We do premium systems for premium clients and therefore provide premium products. Most of our work is leased. Therefore, we are responsible for service for years to come. Using inferior products would be cutting our own throat,â€ Jacquish says.
On the other hand, some dealers and integrators donâ€™t distinguish between the technical capabilities of basic wire, but they do see different applications.
â€œThere are not many technical considerations for most basic wire,â€ Oâ€™Connor says. â€œMain considerations are delivery, minimum order requirements for not paying freight, and the like. Other considerations are mostly convenience related: Siamese for cameras, MC cable for large commercial, color coding for some large government jobs, etc.â€
In the end, price, quality, availability, and applicability all fall under the category of brand and vendor loyalty to their dealers and integrators and vice versa.
â€œThereâ€™s no real magic when it comes to buying wire and cable. You just really have to shop around. I turn to people who I have experience with,â€ Budinoff says.