Glossary

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- A -

Aerial Cable A Cable suspended in the air on poles or other overhead structure.
Alloy A metal formed by combining two or more different metals to obtain desirable properties.
Alternating Current (AC) Electric current that continually reverses its direction. It is expressed in cycles per second (hertz or Hz).
Ambient Temperature The temperature of a medium surrounding an object.
American Wire Gauge (AWG) A standard system for designating wire diameter. Primarily used in the United States.
Ampere The unit of current. One ampere is the current flowing through one ohm of resistance at one volt potential.
Analog Representation of data by continuously variable quantities.
Annealed Wire Wire, which after final drawdown, has been heated and slowly cooled to remove the effects of cold working.
Armor A braid or wrapping of sheet metal, usually steel or aluminium, used for mechanical protection.
ASTM Abbreviation for American Society for Testing and Materials.
Attenuation Power loss in an electrical system. In cables, generally expressed in dB per unit length.
- B -

Binder A spirally served tape or thread used for holding assembled cable components in place awaiting subsequent manufacturing operations.
Breakdown Voltage The voltage at which the insulation between two conductors is destroyed.
Building Wire Wire used for light and power, 600 volts or less, usually not exposed to outdoor environment.
Buried Cable A cable installed directly in the earth without use of underground conduit. Also called “direct burial cable”.
- C -

Cabling The twisting together of two or more insulated conductors to form an element.
Capacitance, Mutual The capacitance between two conductors with all other conductors, including shield, short circuited to ground.
Cellular Polyethylene Expanded of “foam” polyethylene consisting of individual closes cells suspended in a polyethylene medium.
Concentric Stranding A central wire surrounded by one or more layers of helically wound strands in fixed round geometric arrangement.
Concentricity In a wire or cable, the measurement of the location of the center of the conductor with respect to the geometric center of the surrounding insulation.
Conductance The ability of a conductor to carry an electrical charge. The ratio of the current flow to the potential difference causing the flow. The reciprocal of resistance.
Conductivity The capability of a material to carry electrical current, usually expressed as a percentage of copper conductivity (copper being 100%).
Conductor An uninsulated wire suitable for carrying electrical current.
Conduit A tube or trough in which insulated wires and cables are passed.
Control Cable A multiconductor cable made for operation in control or signal circuits.
Copolymer A compound resulting from the polymerization of two different monomers.
Cross-linked A term denoting intermolecular bonds between long chain thermoplastic polymer, effected by chemical or irradiation techniques.
Crosstalk A type of interference caused by signals from one circuit being coupled into adjacent circuits.
Current Carrying Capacity The maximum current an insulated conductor can safely carry without exceeding its insulation and jacket temperature limitations (same as Ampacity).
- D -

Dielectric Any insulating material between two conductors which permits electrostatic attraction and repulsion to take place across it.
Dielectric Constant The ratio of the capacitance using the material in question as the dielectric, to the capacitance resulting when the material is replaced by air.
Direct Current (DC) An electric current which flows in one direction.
Drain Wire In a cable, the uninsulated wire in intimate contact with a shield to provide for easier termination of such as shield to ground.
Duct An underground or overhead tube for carrying electrical cables.
- E -

Electromagnetic Pertaining to the combined electric and magnetic fields associated with movements of electrons through conductors.
Electrostatic Pertaining to static electricity or electricity at rest. A constant intensity electric charge.
Elongation The fractional increase in length of a material stressed in tension.
- F -

Filled Cable A telephone cable construction in which the cable core is filled with a material that will prevent moisture from entering or passing through the cable.
Filler (1) A material used in multiconductor cables to occupy large interstices formed by assembled conductors.
(2) An inert substance added to compound to improve properties or decrease cost.
Flame Resistance The ability of a material not to propagate flame once the flame source is removed.
Flammability The measure of the material’s ability to support combustion.
Flexibility That quality of a cable or cable component which allows for bending under the influence of outside force, as opposed to limpness which is bending due to the cable’s own weight.
Foamed Plastics Insulation having a cellular.
- G -

Ground The connection between an electrical circuit and the earth or other large conducting body to serve as an earth thus making a complete electrical circuit.
- H -

Hard Drawn Copper Wire Copper wire that has not been annealed after drawing.
High Voltage Generally, a wire or cable with an operating voltage of over 25,000 volts.
Hygroscopic Readily absorbing and retaining moisture.
- I -

IEC Abbreviation for International Electro technical Commission.
IEEE Abbreviation for Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
Impact Strength a test for determining the mechanical punishment a cable can withstand without physical or electrical breakdown by impacting with a given weight, dropped a given distance, in a controlled environment.
Impedance The total opposition that a circuit offers to the flow of alternating current or any other varying current at a particular frequency. It is a combination of resistance R and reactance X, measured in ohms.
Inductance The property of a circuit or circuit element that opposes a change in current flow, thus causing current changes to lag behind voltage changes. It is measured in henrys.
Inductive Coupling Crosstalk resulting from the action of the electromagnetic field of one conductor on the other.
Insulation A material having high resistance to the flow of electric current.
Insulation Resistance (I.R.) That resistance offered by an insulation to an impressed DC voltage, tending to produce a leakage current through the insulation.
Insulation Thickness The wall thickness of the applied insulation.
ISO Abbreviation for International Standards Organization.
- J -

Jacket An outer covering, usually non-metallic, mainly used for protection against the environment.
- L -

Lay The length measure a long the axis of a wire or cable required for a single strand (in a stranded wire) or conductor (in cable) to make one complete turn about the axis of the conductor or cable.
Leakage Current The undesirable flow of current through or over the surface of an insulation.
Loop Resistance The total resistance of two conductors measured round trip from one end.
Loss Factor The product of the dissipation and dielectric constant of an insulating material.
- M -

Messenger The linear supporting member, usually a high strength steel wire, used as the supporting element of a suspended aerial cable. The messenger may be an integral part of the cable, or exterior to it.
Mho The unit of conductivity. The reciprocal of an ohm.
Moisture Resistance The ability of a material to resist absorbing moisture from the air or when immersed in water.
- N -

NEMA Abbreviation for national Electrical Manufacturers Association.
- O -

OFHC Abbreviation for oxygen-free, high conductivity copper. It has no residual deoxidant, 99.95% minimum copper content and an average annealed conductivity of 101%.
Ohm Unit of resistance such that a constant current of one ampere produces a force of one volt.
Overlap The amount the trailing edge laps over the leading edge of a tape wrap.
Oxygen Index Percentage of a gas released during the combustion of insulation or jacketing material.
- P -

Pairing The union of two insulated single conductors through twisting.
Pitch In flat cable, the nominal distance between the index edges of two adjacent conductors.
Polyester Polyethylene terephthalate which is used extensively in the production of a high strength moisture resistant film used as a cable core wrap.
Polyethylene A family of insulations derived from the polymerization of ethylene gas and characterized by outstanding electrical properties, including high I.R., low dielectric constant, and low dielectric loss across the frequency spectrum. Mechanically rugged, it resists abrasion and cold flow.
Polyvinylchloride A general purposes family of insulations whose basic constituent is polyvinylchloride or its copolymer with vinyl acetate. Plasticizers, stabilizers, pigments and fillers are added in lesser quantity to improve mechanical and/or electrical properties of this material.
Power Factor The ratio of resistance to impedance. The ration of the actual power of an alternating current to apparent power. Mathematically, the cosine of the angle between the voltage applied and the current resulting.
Pulling Eye A device fastened to a cable to which a hook may be attached in order to pull the cable into or from a duct.
- Q -

Quad A four conductor cable.
- R -

REA Abbreviation for Rural Electrification Administration. A branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture responsible for the standardization of the independent telephone companies throughout the U.S.
Resistance A measure of the difficulty in moving electrical current through a medium when voltage is applied. It is measure in ohms.
Root Mean Square (RMS) The effective value of an alternating current or voltage.
- S -

Self Extinguishing The characteristic of a material whose flame is extinguished after the igniting flame is removed.
Semi-Conducting Tape A tape of such resistance that when applied between two elements of a cable, the adjacent surfaces of the two elements will maintain substantially the same potential. Such tapes are commonly used for conductor shielding and in conjunction with metallic shielding over the insulation.
Separator A layer of insulating material such as textile, paper, polyester, etc. Used to improve stripping qualities, flexibility, mechanical or electrical protection to the components.
Sheath The outer covering or jacket of multiconductor cable.
Shield In cables, a metallic layer placed around a conductor or group of conductors to prevent electrostatic interference between the enclosed wires and external fields.
Signal Cable A cable designed to carry current of usually less than one ampere per conductor.
Skin Effect The phenomenon in which the depth of penetration of electric currents into a conductor decreases as the frequency increases.
Solid Conductor A conductor consisting of a single wire.
Span In flat cables, the distance from the reference edge of the first conductor to the reference edge of the last conductor (in cables having flat conductors), or the distance between the centers of the first and last conductors (in cables having round conductors), expressed in inches or centimeters.
Spark Test A test designed to locate imperfections (usually pin-holes) in the insulation of a wire or cable by application of a voltage for a very short period of time while the wire is being drawn through the electrode field.
Specific Gravity The ratio of the density (mass per unit volume) of a material to that of water.
Stranded Conductor A conductor composed of single solid wires twisted together, either singly, or in groups.
Strip Force The force required to remove a small section of insulating material from the conductor it covers.
Surge A temporary large increase in the voltage or current in an electric circuit or cable.
- T -

Tear Strength The force required to initiate or continue a tear in a material under specified conditions.
Temperature Rating The maximum and minimum temperature at which an insulating material may be used in continuous operation without loss of its basic properties.
Tensile Strength The pull stress required to break a given specimen.
Thermoplastic A material which softens when heated or reheated and becomes firm on tooling.
THHN 900C, 600 volt, nylon jacketed building wire for dry locations.
THWN 750C, 600 volt, nylon jacketed building wire for wet and dry locations.
Tinned Copper Tin coating added to copper to aid in soldering and inhibit corrosion.
Transmission Line A signal-carrying circuit with controlled electrical characteristics used to transmit high-frequency or narrow-pulse signals.
Transmission Loss The decrease or loss in power during transmission of energy from one point to another. Usually expressed in decibels.
Tray A cable tray system is a unit or assembly of units or sections, and associated fittings, made of non-combustable materials forming a rigid structural system used to support cables. Cable tray systems (previously termed continuous rigid cable supports) include ladders, troughs, channels, solid bottom trays, and similar structures.
Triple (Triad) A cable consisting of three insulated single conductors twisted together.
Twinning Synonymous with pairing.
- U -

UL Abbreviation for Underwriters Laboratories, a non-profit independent organization, which operates a listing service for electrical and electronic materials and equipment.
Unbalanced Circuit A transmission line in which voltages on the two conductors are unequal with respect to ground; e.g. a coaxial cable.
- V -

Voltage The term most often used in place of electromotive force, potential, potential difference, or voltage drop to designate the electric pressure that exists between two points and is capable or producing a current when a closed circuit is connected between two points.
Voltage Rating The highest voltage that may be continuously applied to a wire in conformance with standards or specifications.
Volume Resistivity The electrical resistance between opposite faces of a one cm. cube of insulating material, commonly expressed in ohms-centimeter.
- W -

Water Absorbtion Water by percent weight absorbed by a material after a given immersion period.