What are the Benefits of Polyethylene Insulated Cables?

20 September 2019

Polyethylene insulation is sold in a wide variety of electrically nonconductive forms. A -65°C to +80°C temperature resistance feature also earns PE insulation a place in harsh application settings, places that would freeze or cook a lesser sheathing type. Wires insulated with a polyethylene coating are abrasion-resistant and rigid. That rigidity factor can make the sheathing inflexible, which is why it’s often infused with special fillers and additives.

Pure Polyethylene Insulation Benefits

Uncompounded PE cable sheathing is an uncompromising polymer. The insulation provides very high power loss protection, so wires coated in this plastic won’t leak current. Whether a copper conductor is carrying a low, medium, or high voltage energy load, the current-carrying line will safely contain every iota of electrical charge. While that attribute obviously applies to conventional wiring types, it also covers high-frequency signal carriers. The sheathing is labelled a high resistance insulator when used in power cabling applications.

High-Speed Data Applications

With high-frequency modes, that above description changes. Instead of insulating properties, manufacturers refer to dielectric strength, which is a frequency-dependent insulation attribute. At any rate, all polyethylene cable sheathing delivers superior dielectric strength. Expect to see the polymer used in telecommunications applications and other signal-dense, low-current applications because of this key property. Manufactured as a relatively dense polymer, PE plastics come equipped with a dielectric constant of 2.3. This value drops to 1.50 when cellular PE is used. By the way, the lower this value becomes, the better a cable will impede high-frequency signal losses.

Bolstering Polyethylene Shortcomings

By using pure PE, several application drawbacks are likely to emerge. For one thing, the sheathing is semi-rigid, so it’s not exactly going to bend easily around a tight corner. No worries, polymerization processing adds ethylene-propylene rubber when flexibility is an issue. Next, virgin polyethylene jacketing is not fireproof. To incorporate this important safety feature, more polymerization is required. Halogenated additives and fillers create fully flame retardant PE cable insulation. In fact, that’s likely the last worthy product trait, the fact that this polymer is so formula-flexible. If the weather or sunlight affects the insulation, the polymer alters to handle the outdoor elements. Likewise, with plastic formability an issue, a little EPR rubber keeps the semi-rigid cable insulation nice and flexible.

Ultimately, polyethylene insulated cables can be formulated to resist any type of assault. And we already know the plastic can handle the heat and the cold. On top of that, it delivers exceptionally high electrical resistance attributes. Used for high-speed data lines, that trait is transformed into what’s known as “dielectric strength.” As expected, that strength is extraordinarily high. Consequently, high voltage power lines and low voltage signal carrying conductors are both ably insulated when that protection is made of polyethylene.

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