How to Choose a Power Cable

Electrical power cables play an essential role in our daily lives. However, the fact that they are often hidden within the walls of our homes means we usually take the humble power cable for granted. Electrical cables are the conduits responsible for delivering electricity to our appliances and technological devices in a safe and effective way.

However, choosing a power cable is no simple feat. For a start, there are so many different types of power cables, including telephone cables, lighting cables and data cables, that it is hard for a novice to know which type of cable is right for them. Thankfully, as MJS Electrical Supplies has been in the trade for years, supplying the best electricians with the electrical wires and cables needed to get the job to the highest standard, we have the expertise you need to learn all about power cables.

In fact, we are going to share our industry insights with you to help you choose the most suitable power cable for the task at hand. We’ll start by introducing the main types of power cable you’ll come across, including stocked within our extensive range, before talking about the functions of each in order to help you decide which power cable is right for you.

What Is a Power Cable Used for?

Let’s begin with the basics. Although we all use electrical power cables every single day, many of us would struggle to define what they are. So to get started, a power cable is an electrical cable or an assembly of one or more electrical conductors that are held together with an overall sheath. The purpose of a power cable is essential to transmit electrical power from the main supply to a particular device. In terms of installation, power cables can be found in the form of permanent wiring within a building’s structure, buried in the ground, run overhead or left exposed.

Common Types of Power Cable

There are many different types of power cables available, and each type has a unique purpose. It is vital that you understand what is available on the market, so you can choose the most suitable power cable for the task at hand.

Data Cables

A data cable is a cable that provides communication between devices. For instance, a data cable such as a DVI or HDMI cable connects your computer’s hardware to the screen to allow it to display a picture. You’ll find there are a range of data cable options that can either be bought by the roll or by the metre, depending on your needs.

Alarm & Security Cables

Security or alarm cables are those used to connect the components of a home security or alarm system to one another, for instance, from the door or motion sensor to your control panel. The most used security cables for this purpose are the Figure 8 and Multi-Core Security Cables. You’ll find that both types of alarm cables are available in 2, 4 or 6 conductor configurations in order to accommodate a variety of systems. When connecting a security system with cables, make sure the cables are suitable for the system, including if it is a residential or commercial system.

Telephone Cables

Telephone cables are essential when it comes to setting up a home or business communications system. A telephone cable is a range of internal and external wires that are manufactured for the interconnection of telephone equipment. In some cases, telephone cables may also be used for additional applications. Depending on the job, you may need a 100-metre roll of telephone cable, like for a large office project, or just need a few metres for your home.

Building Wire

Building wire isn’t a type of cable you see every day. In most cases, you’ll find that building wire is hidden out of sight. However, it is one of the most crucial parts of any building’s electrical system. Building wire cable is responsible for delivering electricity to the whole building’s structure, as well as all its devices and appliances.

Coaxial Cables

Coaxial cable is predominantly used for video and audio installations. It is also used commercially on the internet, telecommunications and cable TV industries. Coaxial cable is used to transmit audio, voice and video signals by telecommunications, internet and cable TV providers. It can also be used to connect different devices, such as DVD players, audio speakers and digital cable set-top boxes.

The most notable feature of a coaxial cable is that it can ward off external interferences and transmit a powerful signal without compromising on quality. You’ll notice that coaxial cables generally have a male connector on one side and a female connector on the other end.

SDI Cables

Single-Core Double Insulated (SDI) cables are often used in domestic, commercial and industrial applications where it is not subjected to mechanical damage. SDI cables are resistant to low and high temperatures. You’ll find a range of SDI cables available in different sizes from 1 mm up to 16 mm. They can also have inner sheaths in black, white and red.

Safety First

Now for a word of warning. While it is undoubtedly worth familiarising yourself with the different types of power cables around, what they look like and how they function, installing cables in a home or office space is no simple feat.

Any job that involves dealing with electricity has the potential to be dangerous. Whether it is installing cables properly or you suspect there are issues with the wires at your home or business, it is always best to seek out the services of a licensed and qualified electrician.

Although tackling the electric cabling work yourself might feel empowering, there is a lot that can potentially go wrong. The danger of electrocution is very real and can be fatal. Electric shocks can be scary and can lead to seizures, heart attacks and other health conditions too.

Then you also need to consider the damage a botched electrical cabling project can do to the property itself. The risk caused by the sparks from the wiring can lead to fires. It is crucial to bear in mind that a lot of insurance policies won’t cover damages caused by electrical components if the job wasn’t carried out by a licensed professional. What’s more, ensuring electrical work is carried out by a qualified electrician with the knowledge and equipment needed to do the job to the highest standard will also potentially save you money in the long run. So, even if you think a DIY job will save you money in the short term, it’s best to see all electrical work as an investment.

Additionally, for all licensed electricians, it is important to know that any cabling products used are approved by the appropriate authorities and carry the required markings. Therefore, it is important to check the packaging and any documentation that comes with the wiring.

Final Thoughts

Power cables are incredibly important in our daily lives. However, most of us know very little about the different types of electrical cable available and the various purposes it can be used for.
Anyone planning any electrical work in the home or office space will benefit from taking the time to understand the types of power cable available to decide which ones are most suited to their needs.

With that being said, when it comes to cabling or any sort of electrical work, this isn’t something that should be tackled by a novice. Electrical systems are complex and dealing with them properly requires specialist knowledge and skills that only a trained electrician will have. It is, therefore, wise to enlist the services of a professionally licensed electrician when it comes to upgrading your wiring.