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What is Multiconductor Cable?
Multiconductor is a term used to describe a wire or cable that carries more than one conductor. Usually, they have between two and twenty-five conductors although some cables are designed for specific purposes and can far exceed that number. The term multiconductor is actually a generalized term that can be used to refer to a wide range of cables, however, this page is dedicated to the most common type of multiconductor cable available. Multiconductor cables are commonly used for control purposes. Things such as remote signaling, communications, and broadcast applications to name a few. These cables are manufactured to meet the latest UL, CSA, and NEC requirements. So now that we have a basic understanding of what we mean by multiconductor, let’s take a look at the two main types you’ll find.
"Multiconductor cables are commonly used for control purposes. Things such as remote signaling, communications, and broadcast applications to name a few."
What is the difference between Shielded and Unshielded multiconductor cable?
Well, the most obvious difference is the addition of a foil shield on the cable or an absence of that foil shield, but it goes further than that. The foil shield is used in environments where electromagnetic interference is an issue. Say for instance, that you need to run cables through an industrial or factory setting where there is high-powered equipment in operation. That equipment may transmit electromagnetic frequencies that would interrupt the signal passing through the multiconductor cable. By using a shielded multiconductor cable, you eliminate the risk of electromagnetic interference. Each shielded cable comes with a drain wire that terminates and grounds the entire shield which in turn makes it more efficient. So why would you use an unshielded multiconductor cable? In situations where there is no electromagnetic interference, the shield is not required and, in all honesty, unnecessary. The best course of action is to use the best-suited cable for the task at hand.
What benefits does each type of multiconductor cable offer?
Unshielded multiconductor cable offers the benefits of being easier to work with and being less expensive. That means that you can install this cable quicker and cheaper than shielded multiconductor cable. On the other hand, shielded multiconductor cable offers a higher level of protection, specifically from electromagnetic interference but costs a little bit more and takes a few extra steps to install. Now with that being said, they both offer some consistent benefits. Both offer high-quality, durable interior conductors that are made from tinned copper. This reduces your chances of dealing with a corroded wire. Additionally, both styles carry durable yet flexible insulation as well as a durable exterior jacket. This means that these cables were designed for harsh environments. These aren’t your everyday multiconductor cables, these were made to stand up to harsh conditions for an extended period of time.
Are Multiconductor cables protected against the marine environment?
Both the shielded multiconductor cable and unshielded multiconductor cable that we offer are built to handle tough marine conditions. They carry two layers of high-quality durable PVC insulation. This serves to protect the wires while making them easier to route at the same time. To be clear, the cables themselves are more than suitable for the marine environment however, it is important to create the proper connection points to prevent any chance of corrosion. That is to say, if you leave the conductors partially exposed or neglect to properly seal the connection points, then you may run into an issue. The easiest way to avoid this is to use approved terminals and cover any exposed conductor area with epoxy lined heat shrink.
Where is multiconductor cable implemented?
Prepped examples of shielded and unshielded cable
Shielded and unshielded multiconductor cables are implemented in applications that require multiple conductors. They are utilized as conductors in new wire installations and as replacement cables when performing maintenance. How do you know if it's time to replace them? The biggest indicator that it is time to replace your multiconductor cables would be external damage. Is the insulation faded, chipped, or burnt? Is there cracked insulation? If so, it is time to install a new multiconductor cable. All you need is the proper tools as well as the proper terminals and connectors.
Where would you use shielded multiconductor cable?
Shielded multiconductor cable is ideal for situations where electromagnetic interference is an issue. They are built to nullify EMI and transmit your signal unimpeded. They are a solid choice where a durable, yet flexible cable is needed to handle a tough environment. Not all shielded cables are flexible which is no benefit when you need to run that cable through trays or across a facility where there are turns and bends. So, you would use Pacer shielded multiconductor cable in situations that call for durability, flexibility, and resistance to electromagnetic interference.
"They are a solid choice for industrial or electronic facilities where a durable, yet flexible cable is needed to handle a tough environment."
Where would you use unshielded multiconductor cable?
Unshielded multiconductor cables are ideal for use in environments that require a cable to be tough and flexible while carrying multiple conductors in a protective jacket. Remember, these cables do not offer the electromagnetic interference protection that you get with the shielded cables, but not every situation calls for those. Whether you’re looking for multiconductor cables for use in a factory, industrial setting, or a boat, these cables are a solid choice for the level of toughness they offer. If they are tough enough for industrial settings, then you know they can easily handle marine applications.
What gauges are available?
Pacer carries both shielded and unshielded multiconductor cables in a range of gauge sizes to handle a variety of tasks. Currently, we offer both styles in 14-gauge, 16-gauge, 18-gauge, 20-gauge, and 22-gauge sizes as they are the most commonly requested. Looking for another size that isn’t listed here? Contact a Pacer expert today and see what else we have to offer.
How many conductors are available?
Pacer offers multiconductor cable with anywhere from two to twenty-five conductors. The number of conductors available is dependent on two factors. The first is whether you chose shielded or unshielded. Each style carries a different number of conductors as their intended uses are different. The second factor is the gauge size you have chosen. Basically, the rule is, the smaller the wire gauge, the more conductors available. So, where a 14-gauge multiconductor cable may only offer three or four conductors, a 22-gauge multiconductor cable can carry up to twenty-five conductors.
"Each style carries a different number of conductors as their intended uses are different. "
|Wire Gauge||# of Conductors-Unshielded||# of Conductors-Shielded|
|16AWG||2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12||2, 3, 4, 6, 8|
|18AWG||2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12||2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 15|
|20AWG||2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 15||2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 15|
|22AWG||2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 15, 25||2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 15|
What Compliances does multiconductor cable meet?
Pacer strives to manufacture or carry only the highest quality cables and that means that those cables need to meet a host of compliances. Below you will find a list of the compliances that Pacer multiconductor cable meets or exceeds. Click on any of the links to be taken directly to that compliance.
What industries use multiconductor cable?
Multiconductor cable is utilized by a wide range of industries due to it's durability and flexibility. You will commonly find multiconductor cables, both shielded and unshielded, in such industries as industrial equipment, signal transmission, and consumer electronics. The fact that these cables are so common shows how useful they are. They are used in marinas, repairs shops, industrial job sites, and even private boats. They are ideal for industrial, commercial, and marine applications.
*This page was updated on 2/07/2023*