Types of Cables : Working & Their Applications

At present, almost everything is powered and operated by electricity due to the advancement in technology. So we require an uninterrupted and smooth power supply which is attained through different types of cables and wires. In the electric sector, electric wires and cables play a key role in transmitting & distributing power to industries, houses, offices, etc. Most of the fields depend on different types of electric cables to provide an uninterrupted power supply.


Generally, electrical cables & wires are considered as same but they are somewhat different. A wire is designed with a single electrical conductor whereas an electrical cable is designed with several wires in a common sheathing but both of them are used to carry electrical current. This article discusses an overview of different types of cables, working and their applications.

What is a Cable?

A thick wire or a set of wires in a plastic or rubber covering is used to carry electricity for transmission & distribution to homes, industries, etc is known as cable or electric cable. In electrical and electronic circuits, electrical cables are connected by using connectors which are known as cable assembly.

Cable
Cable

The labeling of the electric cables is very significant because it provides information regarding the type of insulation used, the number of cables & the measure of the cables. The most significant label of cable is the plastic coating or the insulation around the conducting wires. Some of the common labels written on cables are THHN, THWN, THW & XHHN. In every type of label, each letter meaning is given below.

T – Thermoplastic insulation is a fire-resistant material.

H – Heat-resistant is capable to withstand up to 167 F temperatures.

HH – Highly heat-resistant is capable to withstand up to 194 F temperatures.

W – Wet, this wire is also appropriate for dry locations.

X- Insulation made with a synthetic polymer i.e, flame-retardant.

N – Nylon-coated, protects from gasoline & oil.

Electrical Cable Construction

The construction of electric cables can be done by using a copper material because copper is not expensive. Generally, a cable includes three essential components like conductor, insulator, and sheath.

Construction of Cable
Construction of Cable

Conductor: The conductor material allows the flow of electricity and the conductors used in the cable are copper & aluminum.

Insulator: Insulator material is used to maintain the conductors alienated from each other to avoid un-intended lanes for the flow of current, the wires are protected through insulating materials like different synthetic polymers.

Sheath: Sheath is an additional layer that gives protection to the wires in the cable from the atmosphere & chemical reactions. A common material like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is used for the sheath.

Working

The working of Electrical cables can be done by providing a less resistant lane to allow the current to flow through it. The layers in the cable allow the metal core to conduct electrical current securely in the location it is installed in.

The amount of effective flow of current in the cable can be determined by different factors like the insulation material, environment, installation technique, the resistance of the material, conductor’s cross-sectional area. The insulation material can get damaged due to overheating which can cause a short circuit, fire, or electric shock.

Electrical Cables Size Chart

The cable size and its current rating is listed in tabular form

Cross Section (mm^2) Overall Diameter (Approximate) (mm) Current Rating for Single Phase in Amps Current Rating for Three Phase in Amps

1.5

2.8 17.3

15.3

2.5

3.43 23 21
4 4.3 31

27

6

4.65 42 37
10 5.97 56

51

16

6.94 75 67
25 8.6 101

88

35

10.7 123 108
50 11.7 152

135

70

13.4 193 170
95 15.6 230

206

120

17.5 295 240
150 19.2 300

261

185

21.4 340 295
240 24.4 400

345

300

27.8 456 392
400 30.6 545

466

500

33.7 625 532
630 37.5 721

612

Types of Cables

There are different types of cables available in the market which are used based on the requirement. Not all types of cables perform the same function but it depends on different types of cables like Electrical cables, computer cables & Power cables.

Types of Cables
Types of Cables

Electrical Cables

The cable which is used for the transmission & distribution of electric power is known as electrical cable. These cables are mainly used for high voltages transmission in locations where overhead lines are not practical to use. There are different types of electrical cables are available in the market, so types of electrical cables mainly include the following.

Electrical Cables
Electrical Cables

Non-Metallic Sheathed Cable

The Non-metallic sheathed cable is also called NM cables or non-metallic building wire cables. These types of cables contain flexible plastic jackets including 2 to 4 wires and also a bare wire used for grounding. These electrical cables are used in outdoor or underground applications. The most common type of indoor residential cabling is NM-B & NM-C non-metallic sheathed cables.

Underground Feeder Cable

Underground feeder cables are very similar to NM cables, but instead of every wire being separately enclosed in thermoplastic, wires are connected together & fixed in the flexible material. These cables are available in different gauge sizes and are used in in-ground & outdoor lighting applications. These cables are ideal for damp areas such as pumps, gardens, air lamps because of their high water resistance.

Metallic Sheathed Cable

Metallic sheathed cable is also called BX, armored cables. These cables are frequently used to provide an electric supply for large appliances. These cables include three copper wires where one wire is used for the current, the second one is a grounding wire & the third one is the neutral wire.

These wires are protected with PVC bedding black PVC sheathing & cross-linked polyethylene. BX cables including steel wire sheathing are frequently used for high-stress installations & outside applications.

Multi-Conductor Cable

A cable that contains more than one conductor is called a multi-conductor cable. In Europe, this cable can be described more frequently by using the term multicore. These cables include a minimum of two and a maximum of 100 or >100 conductors which are twisted in pairs. The whole construction of these cables will change based on some factors like the voltage, temperature, electrical performance, etc. These cables can be made with different shieldings like foil, spiral, or braid.

Coaxial Cable

Sometimes, a coaxial cable is also called heliax which includes an insulating layer. The inner conductor of this cable can be protected by an insulating layer & enclosed by a tubular conducting shield. This cable uses an external sheath for additional insulation. In a coaxial cable, the term coaxial means, since the two shields inside divide the similar geometric axis. These cables carry TV signals and connect video equipment.

Unshielded Twisted Pair Cable

The unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cable includes two wires that are twisted as one, so this cable is used for the transmission of signal & video applications, telephones, data networks & security cameras. As compared to optical fiber or coaxial cables, UTP cables are more reasonable. These cables are also used for outdoor purposes. UTP cables including solid copper cores & copper wires are popular choices because they are flexible to use on walls.

Direct-Buried Cable

Direct buried cables or DBCs are particularly designed bundled fiber-optic or coaxial cables. These cables do not need any extra sheathing, piping, or insulation before being placed underground. These cables include heavy metalcore with different banded metal sheathing layers, gel, for shock-absorbing, thread-fortified tape wrapped by waterproof & heavy rubber coverings.

These cables are very popular due to moisture, changes from high tolerance to temperature & other ecological factors for transmission or communication requirements.

Twin-Lead Cable

These cables are smooth two-wire cables, used for transmission in between an antenna & receiver such as a TV &radio.

Twinaxial Cable

Alternative of coaxial cable is twin axial cable that includes two conductors rather than one. These cables are mainly used for very short-range high-speed signals.

Paired Cable

The paired cable includes two conductors which are insulated individually. These cables are used in low-frequency AC or DC applications.

Power Cables

Power cables are mainly used for electric power transmission from substations to necessary locations. These cables can be used as underground or overhead based on the requirement. These cables include several conductors which are protected through an external coating known as insulation. Power cables are available in different types like Belted, Screened, H-Type, S.L. cables, Super Tension, Oil Filled & Gas Pressure. Some of them are discussed below.

Power Cables
Power Cables

Belted Cables

The cables that include three conductors which are bunched together & enclosed with an insulating paper ‘belt’ are known as belted cables. In these types of cables, every conductor can be insulated with paper impregnated through an appropriate dielectric. These cables are used where the voltage range is from 11kv to 22KV.

Screened Cables

Power cables like screened cables are applicable up to 33KV of the voltage range, however, in some cases, the voltage range can be increased up to 66KV. These cables are available in two types like H- type and SL type.

Pressurized Type Cables

These cables use gas or oil to maintain the pressure of the cable above the atmosphere. These cables are available in two types gas pressure and oil-filled. Gas pressure cables are applicable for up to 275KV whereas oil-filled cables are applicable for up to 500KV. Oil-filled cables are available in three types self-contained circular type, flat type & pipe type.

Computer Cables

A cable plug or cord that transmits data or power to different devices is known as a computer cable. These cables include one or more wires and are coated with plastic material. In the computer, there are different parts available which are connected directly otherwise uses different cables for connecting from parts of the computer to the system. There are different types of computer cables available in the market which are discussed below.

Computer Cables
Computer Cables

HDMI Cable

In HDMI cables, HDMI stands for “High Definition Multimedia Interface”. It is one type of computer cable, used to transmit the signals like audio & video through images. This cable can be used to connect different electronic devices like HDTV, TVs, Projector, cable boxes, DVD players, media streamers, etc.

DVI Cable

DVI (Digital Visual Interface) cable is a video display interface, used to attach the video card & LCD monitor. By using this cable, one can watch high-quality pictures without having any trouble.

These cables transmit video data to monitors at high resolutions like 2560 x 1600, so these are mostly applicable in CRT monitors with a VGA connection. The main intention to design this cable is to transmit analog and digital signals to the computer system.

VGA Cable

VGA (Video Graphics Adapter) cable is mainly used to transfer video signals by connecting the CPU & monitor of a computer. At present, these cables can be found in projectors & TVs.

Please refer to this link to know more about VGA Connector.

Ethernet Cable

Generally, the Ethernet cable is used in a wired network to connect different devices like PCs, routers & switches in a LAN. If this cable length is not long or not durable then the connection quality will be reduced. The port of Ethernet can be observed on the motherboard to plug the cable directly.

These cables are very similar to telephone cables but it includes the number of wires. There are different types of Ethernet cables available in the market in different colors. So based on requirement we can select and use.

PS/2 Cable

This PS/2 (Personal System/2) cable is available with a round connector with 6 pins. These cables are mainly used to connect the keyboard & mouse to the computer system. These cables are available in small size but we can extend by using some adapters based on the requirement. These cables are replaced by USB cables because USB cables can be plugged in very easily.

Audio Cable

Audio cables are used to connect headphones & earphones to the system. Generally, these are mainly used for connecting a PC sound card, small stereo audio device, or small CD player to any speaker.

USB Cables

The USB (Universal Serial Bus) is very popular and standard cable used to connect different peripherals to a computer device. The devices which are connected by USB are music players, mice, keyboards, flash drives, and many more.

MIDI

MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) cable carries music data, panning, vibrato, event messages, etc. These cables can be found in different earlier computer systems where sound cards include MIDI ports that joint different electronic musical instruments to computers. This cable also connects a synthesizer or MIDI keyboard to the computer.

Types of Cables Advantages

The electric cable advantages include the following.

  • Underground electrical cables can decrease the visual impact
  • Fewer transmission losses
  • Less affected from different weather conditions
  • Increases reliability for power supply.
  • Shielded twisted pair cable has high capacity, simple installation,
  • UTP cable is less costly as compared to optic fiber & coaxial cable.
  • Coaxial cables have higher bandwidth & less expensive as compared to FOC or fiber optic cables.
  • Fiber optic cable has very high speed & bandwidth.

Types of Cables Disadvantages

The electric cable disadvantages include the following.

  • Underground electric cables are expensive as compared to others
  • Finding damage and fault is difficult
  • Maintaining underground cables is difficult.
  • Shielded twisted pair (STP) cables have a large diameter and are more expensive as compared to coaxial or UTP cables.
  • UTP cable has signal attenuation, so applicable for shorter distances.
  • The number of node connections in coaxial cable is limited.
  • Fiber optic cables are unsafe.

Applications

The electric cable applications include the following.

  • Electrical cables are widely used to provide wiring in buildings, industries, etc
  • These cables are used to transmit electrical energy from one location to another.
  • These are widely used in electronic devices.

How do I determine electrical cable size?

Electrical cable size can be determined based on three essential factors voltage regulation, current carrying capacity & short circuit rating.

What are electrical cable codes?

The electrical cables are allocated with codes by using numbers or letters for representing the voltage of cable, insulation material used, sheath, structural element, type of conductor.

What is a 10 digit commodity code?

The 10-digit commodity codes are mainly used for the import of goods from outside the EU & they are required for the declaration of TARIC imports.

What is Mims cable used for?

Mims cables provide an ageless, fireproof & lifetime electric cable solution. These cables are used for protecting necessary ‘life-critical’ circuits in tunnels, high-rise buildings, shopping centers, airports, towers, hospitals, hotels, etc.

What type of protection does a cable sheath provide?

Cable sheathing includes different insulating material layers & weatherproofing. So, a cable sheath protects workers & passersby by reducing the possibility of straight contact with an electrical cable.

Which is the most type of wiring used in domestic applications?

Conduit wiring is mostly used in domestic applications due to several benefits like long life, waterproof, good appearance, reliability, the possibility of alternation, support for combustion, durability, etc.

Thus, this is all about an overview of different types of cables like electrical, computer and power. In electronic and electrical systems, electrical cables are used for transmitting electric power whereas telecommunication cables like coaxial, twisted pair, fiber optic are used for transmitting telecommunication signals from one location to another. These cables are used in different applications based on the requirement. Here is a question for you, what are communication cables?

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