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Shielded vs. Unshielded Tray Cable | Product Knockout

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Tray cable has many applications and different meanings to those who use it. Each user seems to think that tray cable describes exactly what they are looking for, but more information is needed. There are many applications that require different types of tray cable and each has its own specifications that are needed to extend the life of the cable as much as possible.

Tray cable is built to endure conditions like extreme heat, weathering, moisture, and even sunlight. Therefore, the field of application for such wires and cables is expected to be extreme as well. Usually, these are used as cables for power and instrumentation. 

Copper is the material of choice for many known underground applications, thus making this a versatile choice for power and signal transmission to keep interference at a minimum. It is usually utilized for the connection in wire ways, furrows, channels, trays, trenches, gutters, conduits, and racks.

Just like other wires and cables, the following are the most common categories of tray cable: Power and Control Tray Cables (Type TC), Instrumentation Tray Cables (ITC), Power Limited Tray Cables (PLTC), Fire Alarm Cables, Communication Cable, Optical Fiber Cable, and Wind Turbine Tray Cables (WTTC). These types have different specific applications or use and each has a specific set of features that may be advantageous for particular applications.

Not Sure? How to Identify Tray Cable and Power-Limited Tray Cable

There is a difference in cost and effectiveness between shielded and unshielded tray cables, meaning that paying for a shield when you don’t need one is a waste of money. However, not getting a shield when you need one will cause many problems. Imagine a ring of vibration or force field, that hovers outside of a cable due to the electrical current running through it. That’s called electromagnetic interference (EMI) that could interfere with other cables EMI or other equipment. 

Shielding for tray cables is generally longitudinal or helically wrapped polyester tapes backed with aluminum or copper. The protective shield around the cable helps to minimize or eliminate the impact of (EMI) around drives, motors, instrumentation, and radio equipment. For heavier industrial and utility use, 0.005-inch annealed copper tapes helically or corrugated longitudinally applied are used.

For most power applications, cables can be unshielded, reducing costs. Unshielded tray cables are typically used when it can’t interfere with any other cables or equipment. These cables are flame-retardant and lead-free, meaning that they can be applied safely in a wide variety of uses. Since tray cables are used in locations such as chemical plants, generating stations and commercial office buildings, their ability to remain safe no matter the surroundings are vital.

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Tray cables come with two-, three-, four-, or even five-conductor cables. The two-, three-, and four-conductor cables are color-coded, while the five-conductor cables are coded using alphanumeric applications. 

These cables actually meet bend test and cold impact examinations, certified safe for hazardous applications, resistant to sunlight, passed the flame test, among others. Tray cable proves to be very reliable for industrial applications.

For more information on Tray Cable in general, check out our “What is Tray Cable?” blog post that goes through general features and benefits, the most common insulation and jacket materials, the different types of Tray Cable, hazardous conditions class designations, and standards and guidelines for tray cable ratings.

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