Max Current Through Broken Strands

This calculator uses equations developed by Preece and Onderdonk to estimate the amount of current that will cause a copper wire to melt or burn out. With this calculator you can explore the maximum current of wires with broken strands. If you have any questions call us - 1-800-441-9910.


Step 1: Enter the wire information

                         Wire Gauge 
Number of Strands (strands, 1 to 200)
Number of Broken Strands (strands, 0 to Number of Strands - 1)
Duration Current is Applied (msec, 1 to 100000)         

Step 2: Calculate






Wire Gauge: ___ gauge (with __ strands where __ strands are broken)
Wire Diameter: ___ mils
Wire Area: ___ cmils
Area per Strand: ___ cmils
Area of Conducting Strands: ___ cmils
Preese Current: ___ Amps (A rough estimate of the amount of current needed to melt the wire)
Onderdonk Current: ___ Amps (An estimate of the amount of current that will melt the wire in about __ seconds)
Max Current: ___ Amps


  • 1 mil = 0.001 inches
  • 1 cmil (circular mil) = the area of a circle with 1 mil diameter = 785.4x10-9 square inches
  • The area (A) in circular mils of a wire with diameter (d) mils is: A = d2
  • Ambient temperature is assumed to be 25°C
  • The melting point of copper is assumed to be 1084.62°C
  • Heat lost in the connections to the wire is neglected (thermal end effects are ignored)
  • Only heat lost to the air is considered
  • This model works well for wire gauges less than 20 when 0.75 inches of strands are exposed to the current
  • If broken wire strands act as heat sinks (due to small separation distance between broken strands) the fuse current will not be much lower than copper wire without any broken strands.

References: The Preece and Onderdonk equations for fusible metals were found in the Standard Handbook for Electrical Engineers, 15th Edition 2007, Ed. by H. Wayne Beaty and Donald G. Fink. McGraw Hill 4-25