Instrumentation Cable: What Are They and Differ Other cables

Instrumentation Cables

The wire or instrumentation cable plays a vital role because they allow machines to operate in an automated manner as accurately as possible.

Do you know?

The instrumentation cable industry has witnessed an impressive 8% year-over-year growth, making it a pivotal player in the global market.

And now, I will clarify it for your better understanding. Instrumentation cables are significant in the information-driven world as they help systems to operate successfully.

What will you learn?

So, without any further delay, let’s begin the journey. In this post, I will tell you why they are so relevant in the installation process.

What is instrumentation cable?

So, let me break down what makes instrumentation cable unique. These cables are tailor-made to cater to low-power field-driven signals and data, primarily in industrial and factory setups.

Instrumentation cable is in charge of tuning processes an automated system would execute. The great thing about these wires is that they are designed to deal with issues such as changes in temperature, exposure to chemicals, and even some rough handling. They can withstand those situations.

With instrumentation cables, you’ll find several wires twisted in pairs, thirds, or quads. This bending isolates unwanted interferences, such as electromagnetic waves, which impede transmitting these signals.

Now, how do these cables work?

Well, they connect sensors and measuring devices to control units, allowing them to gather essential data for keeping processes in check. You’ll typically find them in industries where getting accurate signals is super important.

When it comes to sizes, the cables usually have 18 AWG, 16 AWG, and 12 AWG wires inside. These numbers, however, indicate the diameter of the cables.

Now, let me discuss with you in detail the structure of an instrumentation cable and how its design guarantees precision in the data it transfers.

instrumentation cable


How Is An Instrumentation Cable Constructed?

Instrumentation cables are constructed to guarantee reliable and accurate signal transmission. Let’s break down how instrumentation cables are put together to make sure they can send signals reliably and accurately:

1. Conductor:

Within the instrumentation cable, you’ll find a conductor generally made of bare or tinned copper. It can be either in stranded form (for example, many thin wires twisted together) or solid form.

2. Insulation:

The conductor consists of molecules covered with insulation to ensure that only the electricity travels where it should. Those materials, such as PVC, XLPE, PE, and silicone, are advanced for the insulation process, whereas the next can be used on what is needed.

3. Shielding:

To protect the signals from interference, shields are added. These shields can be made of aluminum foil, tinned copper braid, or both. They’re put around each pair of conductors.

4. Drain Wire: 

Along with the shield, there’s usually a drain wire included. It helps to ground the shield, allowing any unwanted electricity to escape.

5. Inner Sheath:  

Some instrumentation cables have an extra layer called the inner sheath. It covers shielded conductors to add more protection and keep everything together.

6. Armor (Optional):  

In more challenging environments, instrumentation cables might have armor added. This layer, often made of steel wire, steel tape, or aluminum wire, protects against mechanical damage.

7. Outer Sheath:

Another outer component, which is used to cover the  instrumentation cable, is the final outer layer. It shields from corrosion factors such as chemicals, moisture, and adverse physical changes.

All conductor components are responsible for efficient operation regardless of the environment, whether under control or harsh outside.

Next, let’s dive into some of the main categories of  instrumentation cable.

Types of Instrumentation Cables

Let’s take a look at the different types of instrumentation cables commonly used in industrial settings:

instrumentation cable type

PVC Instrument cable (individual and overall shielded variants):

There is an outer layer of PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) on instrumentation cables, which is fire retardant, resistant to scratches, and waterproof at the same time. The affordability of PVC makes it popular, particularly among those standardized cables according to BS-EN-50288, UL 2250, and IEC 60502.

XLPE Instrument cable (individual and overall shielded variants):

The materials in this XLPE instrumentation cable is cross-linked polyethene, which can prevent heat and humidity. Unlike PVC instrumentation cable with rigid copper conductors, XLPE instrumentation cable featuring flexible copper conductors ise used for proper electrical conductivity. They show an ability to work in higher temperatures and extreme chemical environments.

Armoured Instrument Cable (individual and overall shielded variants):

The armored instrumentation cables contain this interference, and the internal conductors have an extra armor layer, making them more robust.

They are employed for environmental settings such as outside and underground installations where an extra protective mechanism is required, although they might be more expensive.

Besides them, various types of thermocouple cables, LSZH instrumentation cables, and shielded cables are available for purchase. We have been a specialized manufacturer for the past 23 years, so all these variations can be provided.

However, let me highlight the comparison of instrumentation cables and control cables.

What is the difference between control cable and instrumentation cable?

While control and instrumentation wires are of equal importance in industrial settings and can often be confused, they have some different functionality features.

Let me explain the main differences between control cables and instrumentation cables:

instrumentation cable vs control cable

Construction and Design:

Control Cable: We make these cables to handle high-power tasks and harsh environmental conditions like extreme temperatures, oils, and UV exposure. They’re used mainly for carrying power signals to control or operate machinery.

Instrumentation Cable: These cables are designed to transmit low-energy data or communication signals. We often add individual and overall shielding to protect delicate signals from interference. Our focus is all about precision and reducing noise.

Electrical Characteristics

Control Cable: Our control cables are optimized for power transmission. They can handle higher currents and voltages compared to instrument cables.

Instrumentation Cable:  Here, we prioritize maintaining the integrity of signals. While they might not handle as much power, they excel at transmitting signals with minimal loss or interference.

Also Read:Control Cable Basics: Types, Size&Color Code

To sum it up, both types of cables are essential in industrial and automation setups. Control cables are more about power distribution and directly controlling equipment, while instrumentation cable is all about ensuring accurate and interference-free signals and data transmission.

Now, let’s dive into another comparison between instrument cables and electrical cables.

What is the difference between electrical and instrument cable?

Three main differences exist between electrical cables and instrument cables: what they are for, how they are built, and how resistant they are to interference.

Let me explain it to you.

1. Intended Use:

  • Electrical Cables: For powering devices and machinery of different kinds, such as electrical equipment and lighting, they carry electricity through them. They are as substantial as the hard bones of an energy-supporting power infrastructure.
  • Instrument Cable:These cables fully cater to transmitting signals in control and monitoring systems. Instrumentation cables hitting the hammer on the head to connect to the sensors, transmitters, and measuring devices.

2. Construction and Design:

  • Electrical Cables:They’re built to handle different voltages and are heavily insulated to carry electrical power safely. Depending on the application’s voltage and current needs, they come in various sizes and setups.
  • Instrument Cable:These wires are lighter, more flexible, and designed for transmitting low-voltage signals.  Instrumentation cable often has special shielding to protect signals from interference.

3. Sensitivity to Interference:

  • Instrumentation Cable: These wires are pretty good at rejecting outside sound and interference, but this messes up the signal sent in the long run.
  • Electrical Cables: They are less susceptible to interference. However, they still require correct insulation and grounding to operate correctly and efficiently.

So, electrical cables focus on safely and effectively distributing electrical energy. At the same time, instrumentation cables specialize in transmitting signals for control and monitoring, focusing on keeping those signals clear and intact.


Instrumentation Cable Bottom Line

Whether it is control, electric, or instrumentation cable, each has its specific role. I value instrument cables’ vital role in transmitting signals in control and measurement applications.

When using cable constructions, our choices are PVC, XLPE, and armored cables, each crafted to ensure the highest possible data transfer precision and flexibility.

If you are looking for “Instrumentation Cable Near Me,” you shouldn’t need to look further. ZW Cable is an acknowledged market player and a reliable cable manufacturer in this field. If you have any needs or questions after reading this, please contact us for clarification!

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About Me
Richard Zi
Richard Zi

My name is Richard Zi, and serve as the General Manager of ZW Cable. With a deep and extensive background of more than 15 years in the cable industry, I am excited to share my wealth of knowledge and experience.ZW Cable is a renowned company in the field of cable manufacturing in world, we specialize in selecting the best cable sizes and effectively solving all your cable challenges. If you have any questions or needs regarding cable solutions, please contact me and I assure you of the highest standards of personalized and effective guidance and support.View All My Posts >>

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