Easiest Thing You Can Read to Understand Cable Terminology

To the average person, talking or reading about cables can get confusing. There are so many terms that are usually involved and it can be quite difficult to understand. Here are some examples of common cable terminology and their definitions:

1. Cable – This is the lifeline of electronics communication systems. It is also interchangeably called a wire rope. However, what generally differentiates the two is their size. While a wire rope has a diameter of more than 3/8 inch, anything smaller than this is considered a cable or a cord.

They are usually described based on the type and number of conductors that they have, the gauge number and the usage description.

2. Conductor – The conductor is the metal part of the cable’s wire. The conductor carries the electricity. A multi-conductor means that there are two or more conductors. A stranded conductor means that the conductor consists of many small strands of wires that are twisted together. The stranded conductor is popular for audio and speaker purposes because it is very flexible. The solid-conductor means that the conductor is simply made up of one single wire.

3. Gauge number – A gauge number denotes the conductor’s size. Generally, the lower the gauge number, the larger the size of the conductor. A large wire conductor carries more electrical current than a small one.

Your cable should be labeled as in-wall or UL type CL2 if you plan on running it behind or through walls. If you are using it outside, make sure that it is rated as UV-resistant or outdoor. Ultraviolet light can cause the insulator to rapidly deteriorate if it is not UV-resistant. If a cable is not indentified as any of the above, then it means that it is most probably rated for indoor use.

4. Strand – A strand consists of two or more wires that are concentrically laid around a center wire and can have one or more layers. Usually, there are 7, 19 or 37 wires in a strand.

In product designation, a 7×7 cable would consist of 7 strands with 7 wires found in each strand. Similarly, 7×19 consists of 7 strands with 19 wires found in each strand.

5. Audio cable – This is used to transmit audio signals from one source to another. Common types of audio cables are Firewire, Toslink, Coax Digital Audio (S/PDIF), HDI, Stereo, Mono and Denon Link.

6. Video cable – This is used to transmit video signals from one source to another, to put it simply. Common types of these are HDMI cables, component and composite video cables, RF coaxial cables and S-video cables. Each type has a different purpose depending on their applications. While some improve the contrast ratio, others are preferred because they run longer in terms of length. Some can improve the quality of colors, while some lessen video distortion.

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