Guide to Electrical Cables: How to Check the Quality of Electrical Cables

instrumentation cables

Since the introduction of electricity as a power source and the implementation of it in households, cables and wires have been part of the most revolutionary step in human history. Electricity has definitely changed our economies, industries and everyday lives, but if it wasn’t for cables none of that would be possible. Today, although technological advancements are pushing us further away from a wired future, cables are the reliable present we tend to cater to. Why?

Cables are not only made to transfer power, but they do so in a way that is most efficient and safe for people and devices. Transferring power and data are the two most common uses of cables today, with control and electrical cables meant for various other applications. This poses the question of whether or not cables can be reused as the future is definitely bleak if we are not careful of how we use our resources that we take for granted.

Can You Recycle Electrical Cables?

recycle electric cables

A definitive answer would be yes, but that’s not always the case. If we’re talking about well-insulated instrumentation cables made with mostly metal in them then most scrap metal recyclers are able to recycle them. Others that use more plastic than metal can be hard to recycle depending on the type of plastic they use.

How to Check Quality of Electric Cable

quality electrical cable


There are some features you need to consider. The importance of cable thickness is one to look for but sometimes, you don’t need the thickest cable available. This can vary but when it comes to heavy loads passing through, then it is extremely important to use cables with adequate thickness. The higher the voltage of the load passing through a cable, the thicker it needs to be, but a thicker cable isn’t always better. You might think that if you get a thicker electrical cable no matter the voltage of the load passing through is going to make things safer but it will do more harm than good. 


How well instrumentation cables or power cables operate is going to depend on the materials they’re made of. There’s not going to be a plethora of features supporting their high-quality, since there aren’t ones and no cable can do more than the materials it’s made of allow it to. You can’t improve on a cable once it’s made.


Talking about materials, there are plenty that electrical cables can be made of. You’ve got aluminium, copper, PVC and so on, with metal being used to transfer the current and plastics such as PVC to protect you from getting buzzed by the bare wire. Again, the more protective or insinuative material a cable has doesn’t mean it’s an overall better cable. In this case, protection is only useful when it’s actually needed otherwise it gets in the way of portability since it makes a cable weigh more.

How to Calculate Electrical Cable

cutting electric cable


As you already know the size of the cable is important hence why finding the right size cable is something you should always do. How it’s done? Well for this you first need to determine the cross-sectional area of the cable. This is done by dividing the voltage that needs to be running through it with the amps and then the length of the cable. Divide the voltage with the amps you want running through which will give you the resistivity of the cable’s insulative material and then multiply the cable’s length with it.

Afterwards, you need to divide the length of the cable again by the total you got from multiplying the resistivity of the cable’s material with the length of the cable. This then needs to be divided by your target resistance which is expressed in Ohm. The result you get from that will give you the cross-sectional area of the cable. Divide the cable’s cross-sectional area by Pi and then find the square root of the result which will give you the cable’s radius and thus, its appropriate size.

Other Types of Electrical Cables

types of electric cables


While there are a lot of different electrical cables, control cables are some of the most popular ones, for a reason. These cables are extremely flexible and often used in small household appliances or for the connection between machine parts.


As you’ve already guessed, these electrical cables come with extra protection. These rugged cables come with either steel or aluminium reinforcement which makes them ideal for areas where there’s a risk of mechanical damage. 


Made specifically for the use in solar panel installation and interconnection between various other solar system components, these cables are made to resist solar radiation well without getting their performance affected.


This isn’t a type of cable, but rather a wide array of cables. These can be cables for the use of temporary light garlands or overhead cranes, lifts, hoists and so on. Specifically made for a single-use which is often a temporary one. You can find special cables in purification systems, as well as swimming pools and aquariums.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.