Terminology Tuesday: Interpreting Cable Descriptions
Have you ever picked up a catalog to order cable and thought the descriptions were written in another language. Writing a catalog description for cable that fits into the standard character count – is a lot like tweeting. You have to be a bit creative. So I thought I would create a quick guide for interpreting as many of the abbreviations as I can think of. I will try to go in a logical order, as many descriptions start in the same manner:
AWG = American Wire Gauge (Conductor size). However, many descriptions just start with the actual AWG size and don’t place “AWG” after the conductor size. So the description might start “24-4c”, this would be 4 individual conductors, each sized 24 AWG. If it was written “24-4p” – the cable would be 24 AWG with 4 pairs (or 8 conductors twisted into pairs).
Now here is a breakdown of various other descriptors you might find:
- SOL = Solid conductors
- STR = Stranded Conductors (this is usually further broken down by number of strands and the strand AWG size, i.e. 7/32 is 7 strands each 32 AWG)
- BC = Bare Copper
- TC = Tinned Copper
- AL = Aluminum
- CCS = Copper Clad Steel
- UTP = Unshielded Twisted Pair
- STP = Shielded Twisted Pair
- FTP = Foil Twisted Pair
- OS = Overall Shield
- IS or SP = Individually Shielded Pairs
- DW = Drain Wire
- BCB = Bare Copper Braid Shield (this is usually preceded by the percentage of coverage the braid shield gives, i.e. 40%, 60%, or 95%)
- OD = Outside Diameter
- C6A, C6, C5e, C5 = Category Ratings for data communications cables
In addition, most descriptions will list an NEC Cable Identification Code. These will be all caps like: CM, CMR, CMP, CL2P, FPLP. To view them all and see which cable codes can be substituted for one another click here now.
What other abbreviations have you run across?