Type of Electric Cables & Conductors with Application
In layman's terms, cables and wires are sometimes used interchangeably and might mean the same thing, but technically the two are not the same. While a wire comprises a single electrical conductor, a cable has a bunch of wires held inside a common sheathing. However, the purpose of both wires and cables is the same – carrying electric current from one point to the other.
There are different types of electrical cables, which are designed for specific requirements. There are various categories into which cables are classified depending on different parameters. Some of the most common parameters include their place of application, the nature of the cable, the materials with which the cables are made, the current carrying capacity, and many other things. Apart from knowing the cable requirements, you must also know what are the sizes of electrical wires.
Different types of electrical wires and cables and conductors have myriad applications in communication and data transmission networks, the transmission of electric power, establishing safety connections, earthing, and so on.
Let us take a look at different types of electrical cabling, wiring, and conductors for various electrical applications.
Different types of electrical cables as per their use
Before you go into the details of types of electrical cabling, you must know that an electric cable is measured in volts and hence they are typically categorized as per their voltage. There are low voltage cables of two types (up to 750 volts and up to 1000 volts), medium voltage cables (from 1kV to 36kV), and high voltage cables (from 36kV). The uses of the cables are classified accordingly to these categories.
The different uses of the cables are as follows:
1. Low Voltage Cables
These cables are used in various applications and are designed and created as per harmonised standards. These cables are used in general industries, infrastructures, public installations, and similar places. Listed below are some of the most common uses of low-voltage cables:
- Power cables – These are energy cables for public places and industrial facilities. These cables can be commonly found in applications used for power transmission in various kinds of low voltage connections through variable frequency drive and industrial use.
- Fire-resistant cables – These are specially designed cables for transmitting electrical energy in extreme conditions like during prolonged fire etc. These cables guarantee power supply to various emergency equipment like acoustic alarms, signalling, water pumps, smoke extractors, etc. Emergency circuits in public places have these kinds of cables.
- Solar cables – These cables are mainly suitable for connecting photovoltaic panels. They are also used to connect the panels to the DC or AC inverter. Solar cables are resistant to extreme temperatures and solar radiation. They can be installed outdoors without any concern.
- Cables for electric panels – These types of electrical cables are flexible and are primarily used for wiring electric cabinets. These cables are great for domestic use, small electrical appliances, public place installations, switch boxes, internal wiring of electrical cabinets, and many other places.
- Armoured cables – It is evident from the name of the cable that these come with special reinforcement of aluminium or steel for installations with risks of mechanical aggression. These types of electrical wires and cables are abundantly seen in installations where there is a risk of explosion and fire or in places with lots of rodents.
- Instrumentation cables – Instrumentation cables are shielded and flexible and are used for the transmission of signals between various equipment in different industrial installations. These cables are highly suitable for maximum data transmission in environments where there is a high level of electromagnetic interference.
- Special cables – Different kinds of electrical cables are needed for special installations. Some of the uses are as follows –
- in connections for overhead cranes
- purification systems
- temporary light garland installations at trade fairs
- applications in drinking water areas and submerged pumps
- hoists and lifts
- swimming pools for lighting and cleaning systems, etc.
2. Medium voltage cables
The main use of medium voltage cables is for distributing electricity to transformer stations from the electrical substations. Here are some of the most common uses of medium-voltage cables:
- HEPRZ1 – These medium voltage electric cables come with HEPR insulation, are halogen-free, and are not fire or flame-propagating. These cables are ideal for the distribution and transportation of energy in various medium-voltage networks.
- RHVhMVh – These types of electrical cables are designed for medium voltage for special applications. These are mainly made of aluminium or copper. The use of such cables is highly recommended in installations where there is a risk due to the presence of various chemical agents and oils belonging to the hydrocarbon group or its derivatives.
- RHZ1 – Similar to HEPRZ1 cables, RHZ1 cables come with XLPE insulation. These cables are halogen-free as well. These cables are highly suitable for the distribution and transportation of electricity in medium-voltage networks.
- MV-90 – As per American standards, these are medium voltage cables with XLPE insulation. Like other medium voltage cables, these cables are also used for the transportation and distribution of electric current in medium voltage networks.
3. High Voltage Cables
High-voltage cables are used for transmitting power at high voltages. There are different types of high-voltage cables and each type has its specific uses. Some common types and uses are fire-resistant, steel tape armoured, and flame retardant, which is used for underground tunnels, overground, indoors, and pipelines.
Read More: Electric Circuits: Dos And Don’Ts
Understanding the different components of an electrical cable
Now that we have a fair idea of the different types of electrical wires and cables and their uses in various places, let us discuss and understand the various components that make up an electrical cable.
- Electrical conductor – This is probably the most important component in any cable. The electrical conductor is the main part which channels the electricity flow through the cable.
- Insulation –All cables and wires must have proper insulation. Insulation is like a cover on the wire and contains the flow of electricity in the conductor. Insulation makes the cable/wire shockproof and safe for handlers and users.
- Supporting elements – Apart from the conductor and the insulation, there are other supplementary elements in a cable which offer protection to the cable and ensure its durability and longevity.
- Outer sheath – All the above-mentioned items are covered by the outer sheath, offering optimum protection against shocks and accidents as required.
What are the different kinds of electric conductors?
You will be surprised to know about the plethora of different kinds of electric conductors that are used in the various types of electrical cabling. Here are some of the most common conductors which are used:
- Single-core cable – This is a cable which has a single conductor.
- Multi-core cable – Just opposite of single-core cable, this cable has many conductors in it.
- Bare wire conductor – A bare wire conductor is a single wire in a solid state. Moreover, these conductors do not have a coating and are not flexible as well.
- Copper electrical conductors – These are probably the most well-known and commonly used conductors in different cables.
- Flexible copper wire conductor – A flexible copper wire conductor is a set of fine wires, which are usually covered with an insulating material. These conductors are highly malleable and flexible at the same time.
- Aluminium electrical conductor – The electrical conductivity of aluminium is way lower than that of copper. However, in many cases, aluminium electrical conductors are used instead of copper conductors.
What are the sizes of electrical wires?
Did you know that the different types of electrical cables come in varying sizes as well?
While the maximum cross-section of typical cable measures about 25 mm2, the minimum cross-section measures 1.5 mm2. The higher the cross-section area of the cable, the higher the current consumption because of more resistance.
Cables with cross-sections measuring 25 mm2 or 16 mm2 are used in industrial equipment, central air conditioning, electric power connections, electric stoves, etc. Medium-sized cables, measuring about 10 mm2, 6 mm2, or 4 mm2 are generally used in dryers, refrigerators, blenders, microwave ovens, lighting, and so on. Small-size cables measuring 2.5 or 1.5 mm2 are usually used in lamps, bells, security systems, or thermostats.
Schneider Electric eShop – your one-stop destination for all kinds of electric cables
Different types of electrical wires and cables are needed for various purposes. Know the requirement and purchase the wires and cables accordingly. Seek help from an electrician if needed.
When looking for quality low-medium, or high voltage cables, Schneider Electric eShop should be your go-to destination. If you intend to purchase different types of electrical cables at the best rates, the Schneider Electric eShop has a range of the same available for your perusal. Visit the website of the eShop, check out the products, and you can decide on the cables which would fit your requirements best.
The eShop also houses other different varieties of electrical equipment. Check out the website for more information.