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Your distribution source for Belden Cable, Alpha Wire, Southwire Cable and equals
Your distribution source for Belden Cable, Alpha Wire, Southwire Cable and equals
Cable Glossary

Cable Glossary

There are hundreds of different types, definitions and classifications of cable and naturally, that presents a problem when trying to make a purchase - having to navigate a veritable ocean of jargon. That's why we at WAVE have compiled this useful guide to assist you through the process and shed some light on the words used colloquially the wire & cable industry.

Electric Wire and Cable

Name: AWG This stands for American Wire Gauge. This is the standard set of wire conductor sizes which include copper and aluminium – also including household and telephone wiring. Name: Coaxial 'Coax' was mostly know as the cable that connected television. There are typically two types of coaxial cable: thicknet and thinnet. Name: CSA Known as Cross Sectional Area. Cross section is a mathematical way of calculating the diameter of a round wire. Name: DS3 Digital Signal 3 is a cable carrying a digital signal. It can also be called T3 line. Name: Flat cable This is sometimes known as FFC – flexible flat cable or ribbon cable. It is a term used for lots of different electrical cable that is – obviously – flat and flexible. It can also refer to the very thin and flat cables found in devices like laptops and mobile phones. Name: Gauge This is a measurement of how large wire is, using diameter or cross sectional area. The gauge determines how much electrical current the wire can carry.

Electrical Wire and Cable

Name: Thermocouple A sensor that measures temperature. It is made up of two metals which are joined together. When one end is heated it produces a current.

Voice and Data Cable

Name: CMR Communications Multi Purpose Cable Riser. This means the cable is suitable for a 'riser' installation aka it can be installed vertically. Name: Fiber Optic This is a cable made up of glass threads, which can transmit messages. They have a greater band width than traditional metal cables. Name: PVC This stands for Poly Vinyl Chloride. It is a synthetic plastic polymer and is used in low voltage copper cables for home appliances. This material insulates the cable to prevent current flowing between the wires within the cable and causing electrocution. Name: Switchboard This refers to a point where a power supply is divided or directed into separate circuits. A distribution switchboard would have a number of units which all contribute to a given function. Name: T1 This is a term for a digital transmission line using fiber optic. It can carry approximately 60 times more data than normal modems. New: TNC A convertor which features a threaded coupling nut, making it different from a BNC connector. Name: UTP Unshielded Twisted Pair. This type of cable has two unshielded wires twisted round each other. It's often used in telephone connections. Name: Braid A braid is a tubular sheath that is made of strands of metal. These are braided around a cable to prevent electromagnetic interference. Name: Different conductor materials Conductors conduct electricity because they have free electrons. Some of the better conductor materials include:
  • silver
  • gold
  • copper
  • aluminium
  • mercury
  • steel
  • iron
  • sea water
  • concrete
  • mercury
Name: Female/Male connectors Female connectors are attached to a wire or cable and have one or more holes. They are also called jacks, receptacle or outlet. Male connectors are plugs with exposed conductors that fit into jacks. Name: Quad Shield Typically on a coaxial cable, a shield intercepts electromagnetic energy. Two of the most common types are foil and braid. The quad shield has two layers of braid aluminium. Name: Resistance Resistance occurs when electricity flows through a conductor, and is measured in ohms. The resistance increases as the length and thickness of the conductor wire increases. Name: RG This is short for Radio Guide. It is a designation for four different types of coaxial cable. The centre wire is surrounded by insulation and grounded with a shield of braided wire. RG is the specification. Name: SMA Sub Miniatures version A is a cable with screw type coupling mechanism. Name: Type 11 Also known as R11. These are six position cables, in that the plug and jack can utilise six wires. These are mainly used in phone lines. Name: Type 6 Also known as RG6. This cable usually has different types of conductor fitted at each end. There are three types of RG6: Plain wire for house wiring, Flooded for use underground, and Messenger for ventilation.
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