7 Tips for Electrical Cable Selection & Installation

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Not all cable jackets are created equal. In fact, there are multiple materials for industrial cables, and they all offer different benefits depending on your environment. So, why does cable jacketing matter? Without a jacket, cables would be defenseless against chemicals, abrasion, extreme temperatures and more. Let’s break it down.  

What Is A Cable Jacket? 

A cable jacket is an exterior skin that holds the interior cable components together. Cable jacketing protects the interior insulation and conductors from harsh outside environments. 

Cable Jacket Features and Benefits  

There are many different properties of cable jackets, but below are some common features and the benefits that they offer.  

  • Abrasion Resistance- Any damage to your cable’s jacketing material as it moves across a rough surface is considered abrasion. A cable jacket that is abrasion-resistant will protect your cable’s conductors. 
  • Flexibility & Flex Life- This will help determine its flexibility and how much movement the cable can endure and how manageable the cable is during installation. A cable’s jacket can also determine the flex life and its ability to withstand continuous flexing motion in an application without sustaining damage. 
  • Chemical Resistance – A cable exposed to chemicals, coolants, or oils can cause the jacket to swell, crack or harden. Having chemical resistance will determine the life expectancy during exposure to these chemicals. 
  • Cold Temperature Flexibility – Cable jacket materials must be able to handle extreme cold temperatures without cracking. This benefit is for arctic or winter climates and environments where cables are exposed to extreme cold temperatures such as freezers.  
  • Heat & Flame Resist- Reduces cable failure and reduces downtime in high-temperature environments and helps sustain ambient temperature.  
  • Color- Different cable jacket colors are used for identification, safety and appearance 

 Cable Jacket Materials

  1. PVC (Polyvinylchloride) is low-cost insulation that has excellent flame resistance and good flexibility.  Regarded as a general duty jacket for OEMs and where regulatory ratings are important such as TC-ER (Tray) and FT-4 (Flame). 
  2. TPR/TPV (Thermoplastic rubber/elastomer) have excellent chemical resistance, are good in low temperatures, and medical grades are available to meet USP Class VI materials.  TPR/TPV materials are excellent in low-temperature applications such as Industrial Freezers and applications that see solvents like Skydrol.  
  3. Fluoropolymers have outstanding chemical resistance against acids and bases and can be used in areas where temperatures reach 200°C.
  4. Polyurethane jackets are outstanding against abrasive applications like dragging over concrete, rocks, and stones while remaining flexible.
  5. Polyethylene jackets are mostly used in direct burial applications.
  6. Rubber jackets are used in areas of high impact and abrasive conditions.  They also char instead of melting when exposed to flame and high heat. 
  7.  Cross-Linked Polyolefins are used in areas that require low smoke zero halogen environments like tunnels, transit systems, and trains. 
  8. Cross-Linked Fluoroelastomers are excellent in areas that see temperatures to 200°C and offer excellent chemical resistance with long flex life. 

Which Cable Jacket Material Is Best For Your Environment? 


Choosing the right jacket type can help lower failures and reduce downtime and costs. Every environment or circumstance is different, which is why selecting the right cable jacket is so essential.  When in doubt, rely on the help of a trained expert. 

The construction of every wire and cable product takes jacket material into consideration. Our engineers and product managers design solutions for each type of environment and application using only high-performance materials. Contact us today to help make the right wire and cable choice for the job. 

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