Electrical Cable Types: Choose the Correct Cable for Your Appliance

FACTS CHECKED BY  Jose George​

Everything around us needs an electrical current supply. Whether our household electrical items or automobiles, components are available that will light up with the current. However, every type of wire harness needs a different kind of wire and cable with a particular way of arrangement. This article will show different electrical cable types.

How to Arrange Different Types of Electrical Cable?

People often use the cable and wire terminology interchangeably, which is incorrect. A cable is a group or bundle of wires. Before starting the topic, you must know that individual cables have a single electrical conductor. 

Stranded Wire vs. Solid Wire

Single conductor wires have only one conducting line inside. Over it presents a layer of insulation of multiple colors, describing different use. 

The single wire has two types, solid and stranded.

There are multiple thin strands of conductors present in the single-stranded wire. Thus, it offers flexibility and is ideal for outdoor locations that need bending or twisting during installation.

 On the other hand, the single solid wire has a solid conducting core inside plastic insulation that offers stable signal transmission. Hence, you can use it in places with no movements and bending required. However, it is difficult to bent and might break under extreme pressure.

Shielded or Screened Cable

A cable usually has a shield. It protects against EMI or electrical noise from nearby devices. You can ground the protection from one point to exit the different signals. Also, dropping the shield into shielded cables is necessary to avoid electrical surges.

An additional metallic layer is present in shielded or screened cable, offering extra protection against external interference. Here, the shield can be made of braided aluminum, copper, or other metal. Moreover, it can be made as a braid, foil, or present as a simple spiral tape around the inner metal.

 

Electrical Cable Types

Here are some common types of electrical cables that are present around you.

Fiber Optic Cable

Fiber optic cable has multiple glass threads that can transmit the light waves from one point to another. The design and structure of a fiber optic cable are complex. Hence, you will need to understand how the light travels from one point to another inside it.

In simple words, the cable’s outer casing refracts the light to the inner layer or the core. That way, it traps the light between these two layers and continues to travel from one end to another. Moreover, the companies configure optical fiber cables into two kinds, multi-mode, and single-mode. Single-mode is best for MAN, WAN, and for LAN, and SAN network setup, Multimode works better. It might not be much different in look, but their performance has a significant gap.

Twisted Pair Cable

A twisted pair cable is a standard wire that links many household and business computers to the telephone provider. It is formed by twisting two distinct insulated wires and putting 4 of them parallel to each other, which helps to prevent resonance or magnetic induction in them. You can use the twisted pair cable to transmit balanced differential signals. 

Moreover, the benefits of better signal-to-noise ratio, interference, and ground bounce that signal propagation provide are especially significant in elevated and wide-bandwidth systems. Also, there are two types of twisted pair cables, namely Unshielded Twisted Pair Cable (UTP) and Shielded Twisted Pair Cable (STP).

Coaxial Cable

Coaxial cable is made with an inner conducting copper wire and a foam insulation layer. Additionally, the coaxial cable also has a wrapping of woven braided metal shields and an extra layer of plastic wrapping. The design ensures that you can install near metal objects without inferring signals.

Moreover, the coaxial cable allows a high-frequency transmission. It is 80 times more capable of transferring signals from twisted-pair wires. Thus, you can choose it for radio transmissions, internet connections, and cable television signals.

Direct-Buried Cable (DBC)

As the name suggests, you can bury the DBC or Direct-Burial cables in the ground without extra insulation, piping, or sheathing. These cables have multiple strands of fiber optic wires, thick metalcore, and layers of waterproof, shock-absorbing materials to be unaffected by heat and moisture.

Non-Metallic Sheathed Cable (NM, NM-B)

NM Sheathed Cables also go by their trademark name, “Romex.” Here, the outer sheathing is plastic that protects the inner conductor. There are two different types of NM Cables, Two-wire and three-wire NM cables.

In a two-wire NM-B cable, two insulated conducting wires and a separate bare wire for grounding. However, three insulated conducting wires are present with a separate grounding wire in a three-wire cable. Every wire is color-coded. Thus you can make the connection quickly.

Metallic Sheathed Cable (Armored Cable, AC or BX, MC)

Metallic sheathed Cables have an extra layer of metal, in the form of braid or twist, present outside the plastic insulation. These cables are also known as AC, MC, or BX. BX is the trading name of AC cables.

In armored cables, the metal sheathing is steel, providing extra mechanical strength to the connection. You can also ground the steel layer to provide a path to excess current. However, the metallic sheath cannot be a grounding source in the metal-clad cable. Thus, an additional ground wire is present in green color in a metal-clad cable.

Multi-Conductor or Multicore Cable

Multi-conductor cables have several conducting wires present inside one jacketed cable. These multi-core cables also have multiple connector pins on their ends. That way, you can avoid messy connections and time wastage by connecting a single cable instead of many.

Electrical Cable Types-Ribbon Cable

In Ribbon Cables, there are multiple slight grade wires parallels, forming a flat shape like a ribbon. These cables are flexible but can handle low voltages. Thus, they are present in computers, electronic devices, and hard drives as data buses.

Submersible Cable

The users can apply the submersible cables in wet locations, underwater, or in other liquids. Such cables have sound insulation and are highly durable. Submersible cables are available in round and flat shapes so that you can choose one according to your need.

Electrical Cable Types-Paired Cable

A pair of insulated conductors are encased in an insulation sheath to form a paired cable. They are primarily employed in DC and low-frequency AC applications, respectively.

Twin-lead

This two-conductor flat cable carries RF power signals. A plastic layer separates and evenly distances the conductors. However, they are more sensitive to external disturbances and weather conditions, so you need to consider them during installation. Despite its superior noise immunity, Users choose twin-lead cable for reduced power loss over coaxial cable.

Electrical Cable Types-Underground Feeder (UF) Cable

It is a non-metallic encased cable suitable for wet environments like streetlights. NM cables have a free plastic sheath around them. In contrast, UF cables have conductors individually wrapped in a solid thermoplastic layer for added protection.

Due to the water-resistant insulation, you can utilize them in damp areas such as garden sheds and lampposts. Moreover, they have a grey outer sheath. Therefore, you should run them underground to avoid poles and exposed cables.

Electrical Cable Types-Flexible Cables

Flexible cables can resist repeated bending in moving applications. Stranded conductors provide flexibility. They are utilized in automation businesses where equipment constantly moves, such as material handling machines and CNC machines like engraving and milling.  

Moreover, the conductor wire or core can be of two types, Multi-layer or braided.

Overhead Power Line

Transmission lines strung from electrical towers or poles, known as overhead power lines, transport power over large distances. Moreover, you will need aluminum to make the conductors, sometimes bare. Depending on its construction, a conductor’s mechanical and electrical qualities change.

When and Where You Shouldn’t Use Ones as Extension Cords

Although the use of extension cords is every day, some instances where using them is not a good idea. Depending on the device and its distance from the PowerPoint, you have to decide. Here are some points you need to remember.

  • Thicker the wire gauge, the longer the area it can cover as an extension. Moreover, the voltage can become minimal before reaching the appliances, and it might not get enough power. That can result in many safety hazards. Thus, it is not good to use lightweight cables over longer distances.
  • The companies do not advise installing the cords inside the wall as they are unshielded and can melt down if high power signals pass through them.
  • Moreover, using an under-rated extension for high-wattage appliances is not a good idea. Thus, always look for a suitable type of cord.
  • In some cases, you buy a higher gauge power cord for the appliances that are expensive for you. Hence, check for the rating, not for the wire thickness.

Conclusion

Electric cables are of many types. Each type has its application ways to handle. Thus, you should have complete knowledge before choosing the correct cable type. That way, you can install the cable in the right way. Here at Bloom, we offer kinds of cable assemblies. Your connection is made with attention to detail. To avail of our services, contact us now.

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