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Electrical Cable Selection And Installation

There are many factors you must consider when you are selecting electrical cables. Think about what you need the cable to do and how it will be installed. Then consider the environment you need the cable to work in. Finally, your cable length, diameter and inner insulation may play a role in your choice.

You need to think about how the cable will perform. If you need a cable for robotic or pendant applications, it must hold up to movement. A cable used on a reel must have the ability to bend without damaging the inner conductors.

In what environment will the cable be used? Extremely cold temperature may cause thin conductors to snap, while excess heat may melt insulation not suited for the temperature. Chemicals can cause deterioration of many standard jacket materials. For abrasion protection, you may need a cable with a reinforced jacket. (Learn more about our harsh environments.)

General guidelines for cable selection and installation

Check the cable design for bend radius. If the application requires a tighter bend than the cable allows, the conductors will weaken. This will lead to early cable failure. In addition:

  • Select a cable with a reinforced jacket in pendant or reel applications.
  • Do not over-tighten cable ties or clamps, as this can break inner conductors.
  • In applications that require cable movement, do not restrict the movement with ties. This may cause the cable to fail.
  • Use a strain relief to prevent stretching.
  • Before installation, allow all cables to hang freely for 24 hours in the environment where they will be used. This will eliminate the tension from the packaging and acclimate the cable to the normal temperature range.
  • Select the cable with the smallest outside diameter that meets your temperature, motion and conductor needs.

Specific applications

The flexibility of a cable refers to how well it allows for bending during use from an outside source of pressure. This is different from a cable bending under its own weight. Flexibility is also not the same as flex life. Flex life measures how well the cable withstands repeated bending, often found in moving applications. An abusive environment, with constant twisting, flexing or bending, requires a heavy-duty cable.

If your application involves critical signals or variable frequency drives, look for cables that use extra shielding and insulation. The type of connectors needed also play a part in your cable and installation requirements. A harsh environment demands strong seals and couplings.

Following these guidelines will provide you with a high-performance, durable cable assembly. If you need additional assistance, our experts will be happy to help you choose the exact type of cable for your application. We will make sure that your selection holds up to your harsh environment and gives you the longest life span with the greatest reliability. We can also create custom cables specifically for your needs.

Watch our videos to see how tough TPC cable is!