A Complete Guide about Electrical Cables

Electrical cables connect two or more devices allowing electricity to run from one device from the other. There are more than 20 different kinds of cables for every job including transmission and heavy industrial use and it is important to understand which cable is the one that should be used for the task at hand. In this essay, we will explain some of the different kinds of cables as well as looking at some of the types of cabling that can be done.

Non-Metallic Sheathed Cables: These are best for grounding. They are most commonly used for residential cabling but there are special kinds that can be for outdoor or underground use. The cables have 2-4 wires and are sheathed by a flexible plastic jacket.


Coaxial Cabling: These are used for radio frequency signals and can be used for cable television distribution, carrying television signals and connecting video equipment. The reason they are best for these tasks is due to their two inner shields sharing the same geometric axis, hence the term coaxial.


Ribbon Cable: These are often used for computers or peripheral devices. They are made to handle low voltage applications only. The cables are very flexible and feature various wires running through it in a flat plane, hence it’s resemblance to a ribbon.


Unshielded Twisted Pair Cables: These are the most commonly used and affordable types of cables. They are best for signal transmission and video applications. They run in categories of CAT1 to CAT 6, CAT 1 allowing the least amount of data to be transmitted per second, while CAT 6 transmits the highest.


Fiber Optic Cables: These cables can serve as a light guide, guiding light signals from one end of the cable to the other.  These are very fast and secure and can transmit data over the greatest amount of distance, but they are also fragile and expensive.


It’s also a good idea to understand some common cabling terms:


Structured Cabling: This type of cabling is used in linking network devices. This can be residential or commercial work as it is used in a variety of buildings. The work is pretty standardized making repair and maintenance easy.


Component Cabling: Most commonly used to connect and HDTV to an HD converter box, component cabling is used to connect end user devices to a larger network.


Data Cabling: This can be used on any medium over which data is transferred. Covering a broad network of uses, commonly used cables can include Ethernet cables, coaxil cables, fiber cables and network cables.


Size and color are also factors to think about when doing electrical cabling. Color coding is done to determine active, neutral and earth conductors. However, the NEC has not dedicated any color to phase active conductors and color coding may vary depending on different countries and regions, so make sure you are familiar with the color coding of the cables you are working with. Cable size is determined by a number system and the bigger the number, the bigger the size. A 10/3 would indicate and 10 gage cable with the presence of 3 wires. Ground wire is indicated by the letter ‘G’.


Also, you before you begin any cabling work, you will need to obtain a permit from the city in which the work is being done. Once the work is completed it must be inspected to make sure it is in compliance with all the rules and regulations enforced by that city. And, of course, whenever doing any electrical job, including cabling, safety is of the utmost importance so make sure to take every precaution that you are using the proper gear and electrical equipment before embarking on any cabling work.