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Selecting the Correct Cable for Worldwide Markets

Welcome to the Interpower webcast – Selecting the Correct Cable.

My name is Ralph Bright and I am the Vice President of Marketing at Interpower. Today I am talking with Mike Boyle, who is the Vice President of Manufacturing and Logistics. Welcome, Mike!

Thank you, Ralph!

For those who are designing an electrical or electronic product, choosing the type of cable is an important step in that process. What should be considered when selecting cable?

There are several questions to answer to assist in selecting the correct cable.

The first one is: Where is the end destination for the cable?
Second is: What is the application?
Third: What are the power needs?
Fourth: What temperature will the cable be subjected to?
And fifth: How will the cable be connected?

Okay, let’s start with the first question—Where is the end destination for the cable? Please explain what to look for.

The market that the product will be exported to, such as North America, European Union, Asia, or South America, will determine the kind of cable to be used. For example, if the product will be sold in the United States, then North American cable needs to be used. If the country is Germany, then it will be international cable. If the country is China, the selection will need to be Chinese cable.

What do you mean by application in question 2?

Two factors to consider when determining the type of cable: how the product will be used and the environment it will be used in. The application will affect the kind of material recommended for the cable. For example, a household appliance that will be used indoors will likely have a different kind of cable than a hand tool meant to be used at an outdoor construction site.

So that means there are different kinds of materials that cable can be made of. Let’s focus on thermoplastic, thermoset, thermoplastic elastomer, PVC, and rubber. Starting with thermoplastic, please define it.

Thermoplastic can be softened through heating and hardened through cooling. It can be molded when heated and can retain its shape after it cools. Thermoplastic is the opposite of thermoset.

Then what is the definition of thermoset?

Thermoset uses a heating process called curing and once the plastic is cured, it cannot be changed but keeps its shape.

What is thermoplastic elastomer or TPE?

TPE is a material that has characteristics of rubber as well as thermoplastic.

What is PVC?

PVC is a thermoplastic material that is common for cable, conductor jackets, and some molded plugs. For indoor use, the jacket on the cable is typically PVC.

What is the description for rubber?

Rubber is also a common material for cable. It is a thermoset-type material. It tends to be more durable with high levels of water and abrasion resistance and is a good choice for outdoor applications.

Please explain question 3 – what are the power needs?

The end destination for the product determines what the power needs will be. Different countries/regions have different amperage and voltage requirements. Knowing those requirements at the beginning of the design process is crucial, along with taking into account whether the product will be used indoors or outdoors. These factors will affect the power needs and the size of the cable.

Can you give some examples?

For example, in North America, indoor circuit voltage is usually 120V or 240V using 15A or less, while outdoor or industrial may be different. In the European Union, the indoor circuit voltage is usually 230V using 16A or less. Again, outdoor or industrial may be different.

Are there differences between North American and international cable standards regarding this?

Yes, North American and international cable standards dictate ratings for different designated sizes. Because of the difference in rating guidelines between the different standards, North American cable ratings do not necessarily match up with international rating systems.

Okay, let’s explore question 4—What temperature will the cable be subjected to? What is a typical indoor room temperature range?

Typically it can be from 20 to 30-degrees Celsius or 68 to 86-degrees Fahrenheit. Properly operating equipment may generate an additional 30-degrees Celsius or 86-degrees Fahrenheit, so cable for indoor applications is typically rated for at least 60-degrees Celsius or 140-degrees Fahrenheit. If the product is a heating appliance, consider using a rubber jacketed cable or a special heater type cable.

Do the temperatures differ for outdoor/industrial?

Outdoor/industrial ambient temperatures and equipment usually have higher extremes and because of that, cable may need to be rated from minus 50 up to 105-degrees Celsius or minus 58 up to 221-degrees Fahrenheit.

Okay, now for the last question to consider when selecting the correct cable—How will the cable be connected?

All electrical equipment needs some way of receiving power and cable is what completes the electrical circuit from the power source to the equipment. It may be with a connector/inlet combination which is detachable or it may be hardwired with a strain relief/cable gland which is non-detachable.

So in conclusion, can you give me a brief summary of what to consider for choosing cable?

The key to selecting the correct cable starts with knowing the end destination, the application, and the power supply requirements. Customer Service Representatives at Interpower are available to assist with questions to help determine which cable type is best for a specific electrical/electronic product.

Thank you, Mike, for all of this information. You can find more about cable on our website at

At Interpower, we have no minimum orders and carry over 4 million parts in stock. We offer same day shipments on in-stock products and have a 1-week U.S. manufacturing lead-time on most non-stock products. Thank you for joining us today.