Electrical cables are tasked with transporting electrical energy from one point to another. Depending on the application at hand, cables are available in a myriad of configurations, with their design being based on national and international regulations. To better understand the functionality of electrical cables, we will outline their varying types, classifications, and uses.
Low Voltage Cables
An electrical cable is measured in volts, a specification that categorizes them into a few different groups. For instance, low voltage cables of up to 750 V are used in a variety of applications, and they are usually equipped with thermoplastic and thermoset coatings. Furthermore, this cable type is designed according to harmonized standards. Additionally, there are also low voltage cables of up to 1,000 V that are designed according to international standards and are utilized for industrial power installations in countless sectors including general industry, public installations, and infrastructures.
Power cables serve as energy cables for wiring electric cabinets, making them especially suitable for domestic use, installation in public places, internal wiring of switch boxes, and small electrical appliances.
Armored cables are made with aluminum or steel reinforcement for installations at risk for mechanical aggression. As such, they are often found in places where rodents are present or in areas susceptible to fire and explosion (ATEX).
High security halogen-free (LSZH) cables provide low smoke and corrosive gas emission in case of fire; thus, they are suitable for installation in wiring of electrical panels and public places. Some common examples include emergency circuits, public distribution networks, and mobile service.
Medium Voltage Cables
Medium voltage cables, on the other hand, can handle up to 1kV to 36 kV and can distribute electricity from electrical substations to transformer stations.
Medium voltage cable type RHZ1 with XLPE insulation are halogen-free and non flame and/or fire propagating. They are well-adapted for the transportation and distribution of energy in medium voltage networks.
Medium voltage cable type HEPRZ1 is equipped with HEPR insulation, are halogen-free, and non flame and/or fire propagating like their RHZ1 counterparts.
RHVhMVh are copper and aluminum medium voltage cables intended for special applications. They are especially ideal for installations where there is a presence of oils and chemical agents of the hydrocarbon type or their derivatives.
High Voltage Cables
High voltage cables of 36 kV are utilized to transport electricity from generating plants to electrical substations.
Components of an Electrical Cable
Electrical cables consist of four main components: an electric conductor, insulation, auxiliary elements, and an outer sheath. The electric conductor channels the flow of electricity, and the insulation encapsulates the electric flow in the conductor. Meanwhile, the auxiliary elements protect the cable and ensure longevity. Lastly, the outer sheath covers all the aforementioned materials protecting them from the outside.
For added protection, some cables may have metal shields. For example, screens serve as electrical metal protections that isolate the signals that make their way through the interior of the cable, causing potential external interference. In addition, armor can be used to protect the cable from possible external aggressions like animals, blows, and more.
The last major specification to keep in mind with regard to electrical cables is sizing criteria. For copper cables in particular, it is important to consider the American Wire Gauge (AWG) and European sizing. AWG conductors are defined by specifying a number of wires and the diameter of each wire. Conductors that adhere to European sizing standards are defined by specifying the maximum resistance of the conductor (Ω/km).
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