Electrical Cable: Definition, Types and Applications

Electrical cables are the means of transporting electricity from one point to another. An electric cable is made of materials that are conductive and have an insulation layer. If connected to devices at the proper terminal, it generates power for operation. The type of cable to be used is determined by a number of factors in line with the application.

What is an Electrical Cable?

The current carrying wires, which are bonded, twisted or braided together in a single assembly, are electric cables. The wire is of electrically conductive materials secured to a single or multiple layers of insulation. This whole setup is called the cable assembly. The electric signals carried by these cables are used for generation, transmission and distribution of electricity.

Components of an Electrical Cable

The electric cable is made up of three main parts:

1. Conductors

Conductors are the wires that transmit electricity over a cable. These components are based on high performing metals such as copper and aluminum with low resistance, which is suitable for use in demanding applications at high voltage.

2. Insulators

In order to prevent any abnormalities in the flow path, conducting wires shall be isolated by use of an insulation material. These are weak conductors of the power, preventing short circuits and undesired current flow paths. Paper, cloth and rubber have been used for insulation in earlier times but are now replaced by different synthetic polymers on the basis of their use. Examples: polyethylene, butyl rubber and so on.

3. Sheath

These wires are designed to protect the cable from atmospheric conditions such as high moisture in the air, chemical reactions or fires. Sheaths that are frequently utilized are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

Wire Color-Coding

The wires in the cable are differentiated by color-coding based on their respective phases of power supply and voltage applied. This is to allow for compliance with safety standards and ease of identification. Each line, neutral, and ground wire is required for a single-phase supply.

In contrast, three horizontal wires, neutral and ground wire shall be necessary for the 3-phase power supply. Every country in the world has its own coding standards.

Electrical Cable Characteristics

The following are some common characteristics of cable wires:

1. Flexibility and Strength:

Wires should be simple to install and have excellent insulation against outside influences. for instance, cameras, phone lines, etc.

2. Fire-resistant:

The wires are susceptible to damage from fires and exhausts. In the event of a fire assault, damage is minimized by a fire-resistant wire material.

3. Long-Term Durability and Heat Resistance:

It is not practical to perform routine maintenance on wiring in public or private buildings. Therefore, wiring materials should be viable and able to bear heat according to requirements.

4. Non-toxic and eco-friendly:

Depending on where they are installed, wire materials must not contribute to the creation of pollutants that endanger life and property.

5. Easy Application:

The use of wirings is constrained by complex circuits. Therefore, the wirings are generally understandable for residential and commercial usage, and exterior insulation is guaranteed for security reasons.

6. Cost-effective:

The foundation of electrical circuits are cables. This necessitates making sure they are accessible and reasonably priced.

Electrical Cable General Applications

Almost every element of our daily lives involves the use of electrical cables. Electrical cables are utilized in a variety of locations, including:

  • Buildings, malls, homes, and tunnels

  • Mines

  • Projects by Metros

  • Airports

  • Factories and Power Plants

  • Ships

  • Sites of Railroad Construction

To adhere to the established requirements, electrical cable and component manufacturers have a difficult task ahead of them. Serious accidents due to defective wiring might harm susceptible people and property sites. The dangers of fire, smoke, and hazardous exhausts might make things even worse. Therefore, there are tests in place that require approval in order to guarantee safety in the aforementioned institutions.

Types of Electric Cables

Following are a few electric cable kinds and their applications:

Shielded Cables

For applications such as security systems in public spaces, they shall be applied to the application of higher voltage transmission. Inside the conducting layer, one or more insulating wires shall be installed. The shield is made up of copper or aluminums strands woven together, followed by the polymer conducting layer which extends under the jacket as a whole. Such an arrangement shall remove interferences with the frequencies of devices as well as any external disturbances.

Coaxial Cables

It’s the type of shielded cable you use to transmit television and radio signals. Conductive concentric layers provide protection of the internal conducting core. They are separated into layers of insulation and the entire construction is covered in a jacket.

Fiber Optics

These cables are used to transmit optical data signals. In order to carry information between two points, light based technologies are used. The basic composition of such types of cables is made up of slender strands of glass or plastic. This type of cable is mainly used for transmitting Internet signals.

Twisted Pair Cable

In order to ensure the prevention of interference from outside, this cable type is primarily used in telephone cables. In this type of cable 2 or more insulation wires are twisted into each other and color-coded.

Power Cables

Due to the flexibility of use, that type of cable is applied in power lines and extension cables. These consist of a single or several electrical connections which are tied together in a sheath. These cables, which are mostly used for electrical power transmission, can be buried underground as well as used overhead. portable equipment, mobile tools and machinery are also fitted with shielded power cables.


Conductor, insulation, and sheath are the three main elements that make up electrical cables.

Electric signals are carried by the conductor, the electric circuit is kept safe by the insulation, and unintended chemical reactions brought on by outside influences are avoided by the sheath.

Broadly speaking, there are two sorts of cables: shielded and power.

Coaxial, fiber optic, and twisted-pair shielded cables are the most common types of cables used to build networks. In contrast to a three-phase supply, which requires three line wires, a neutral, and a ground wire, a single-phase supply only requires a line wire, a neutral wire, and a ground wire.

Electrical cables are used in a variety of places, including residences, buildings, malls, tunnels, mines, metro projects, airports, factories, power plants, ships, overhead power lines, railroads, and construction sites.