Brief Introduction of Different Cables


Courtesy of Amisy Metal Recycling Machinery

There are generally two kinds of cables: armored cable and non-metallic cable, that is, AC cable and NM cable. What are they and their difference?

Armored cable is a type of power-conducting cable that is covered in a metal sheath. In most cases, it consists of a bundle of wires covered in a metal tube, which may be covered in a plastic insulation layer. The various types of metal-covered cable are made in a similar fashion. At the core of the cable is a wire bundle. There are three basic types of metal-covered cable; all are referred to as armored cable. 

BX is one of the earliest types of electrical cable developed for both residential and commercial uses in the early part of the 20th century. It is a collection of plastic-coated insulated wires (typically 14- or 12-gauge), bundled together and protected by a ribbon-like metal sheathing. Like any other cable, if the armor is nicked, cut, or shredded, the wires inside can be compromised. BX's armor, while much stronger than NM's vinyl, can still be pierced by a determined and well-placed nail or screw.

When electrical wiring needs extra protection, metal-clad (MC) cable is a great solution, and is often required by electrical codes. Metal-clad cable comes in several varieties, but the type you’ll find at most home centers is three insulated wires (two circuit conductors and a green equipment grounding conductor) protected by a flexible armor usually made from aluminum. MC cable is identified by the gauge of the wire, not the diameter of the armor. The most common sizes are 14 gauge, 12 gauge and 10 gauge. It offers protection from fire, vibration, gnawing pests and physical harm in general.

Hybrid fiber-coaxial (HFC) is a telecommunications industry term for a broadband network that combines optical fiber and coaxial cable. It has been commonly employed globally by cable television operators since the early 1990s.

In a hybrid fiber-coaxial cable system, the television channels are sent from the cable system's distribution facility, the headend, to local communities through optical fiber trunk lines. At the local community, a box called an optical node translates the signal from a light beam to electrical signal, and sends it over coaxial cable lines for distribution to subscriber residences. The fiberoptic trunk lines provide adequate bandwidth to allow future expansion and new bandwidth-intensive services.

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