Throughout today’s rapid evolution, the need for adaptability in power infrastructure is stronger than ever, and flex electrical cables are at the heart of this. Whether it’s powering cutting-edge smart home devices, ensuring the efficiency of industrial robots, or fitting into the tight spaces of consumer electronics, flexible cables prove to be indispensable. This discussion explores flexible electrical cables’ definition, applications, and connection methods, highlighting their significance in contemporary settings.
What is flex electrical cable?
Flex electrical cable, often referred to as flexible cable or flex, is a type of wire that is designed to withstand repetitive bending and movement without damage. Unlike rigid electrical wiring, which is designed for static installations within buildings, walls, or conduit, flex cable is designed with multiple finely stranded copper and more pliable insulation and sheathing materials such as PVC, and is typically used for wiring in limited space areas where flexibility is required, for example, appliances, portable tools, industrial automation, robotics, and lighting. And it’s ideal for temporary setups that require frequent setup and tear down. Common flexible cable sizes are 1.5 mm 3 core flex, 6mm flex cable, and 10mm 3 core cable.
Flex cable types come in various, such as rubber flex cable and braided flex cable, each rated for different voltages, environments (indoor or outdoor), and specific resistance properties like oil, moisture, or heat-resistant. They are widely used in commercial, industrial, and residential applications, offering a versatile solution for dynamic electrical connectivity needs.
Having understood the definition of flexible power cable, let’s take a look at its suitability for fixed applications.
Can you use flex cable for fixed wiring?
Using flex cable for fixed wiring is generally not recommended or compliant with most electrical codes and standards. This is because fixed installations need to withstand moisture, high temperatures, or prolonged mechanical stresses, and typically require cables that are better insulated and protected, suitable for permanent installation in walls, conduits, or buried underground, whereas flexible cables, due to their flexible design, are typically not as robust as cables specifically designed for fixed installations and may not provide the necessary protection or fire resistance required for fixed installations.
However, there are exceptions where flexible electrical cables can be used for fixed wiring, for example:
- Industrial or commercial environments where equipment requires a degree of movement and the cable is protected by trunking or similar protective measures.
- Temporary installations where permanent wiring is not feasible.
- Specific applications where the cable’s flexibility is necessary for the installation, and the use complies with local regulations.
For fixed cabling, selecting cables specifically designed for this application is recommended to ensure compliance and optimum performance. If considering using flex electrical cables in fixed cabling, it is necessary first to consult the relevant electrical codes and standards to check if is feasible, for instance, the National Electrical Code (NEC) and Wiring Regulations (BS 7671).
In the following, we will tackle a frequently asked question, namely, can 2.5 mm flexible cable wire be used in socket?
Can I use 2.5 mm flex cable for sockets?
Using 2.5 mm flex cable for socket outlets is generally feasible, as long as the cable is adequately rated for the power demand of the connected devices (typically 13A for a standard socket). 2.5mm flex cable can safely carry a maximum of 20-25 amps, which is suitable for most household sockets and some commercial sockets. Within which context, 2 core flexible cable, 2.5 mm 3 core flex cable, and 2.5 mm 4 core flexible cable are frequently employed. Moreover, it is vital to ensure that the cable is deployed under suitable environmental, for example, some 2.5 mm flex cables are designed to be heat resistant, but they may only be suitable for indoor applications. Consult a professional manufacturer to ensure that the cable’s specifications are appropriate for intended use is advisable.
Next, let’s explore a comprehensive guide to connecting flex electrical cables.
How to connect flex cable？
Connecting flexible wiring involves several steps to ensure safety and effectiveness. Here’s a general guide on how to connect a flexible electrical wire, keeping in mind that the exact method may vary depending on the specific application and the type of equipment you are connecting:
Tools and Materials Needed:
Screwdriver (flathead or Phillips, depending on the terminal screws)
Electrical tape or heat shrink tubing (for insulation)
Cable connector or gland (if applicable)
Terminal block or connector block (if connecting two cables)
Step 1. Prepare the Cable
- Measure and cut the flex cord to the required length.
- Use wire strippers to carefully remove the outer insulation without damaging the inner conductor insulation. Expose enough of the inner wires for the connection, typically around 10mm (3/8 inch).
Step 2. Strip the Individual Wires:
Strip the insulation from each of the individual wires inside the cable to expose the bare conductors. Again, about 10mm (3/8 inch) is standard but follow any device-specific requirements. The amount of exposed wire should match the requirements of the terminal or connector it will be attached to.
Step 3. Twist the Strands (if stranded wire).
If the cable is stranded, twist the strands together to prevent loose wires and to ensure a secure fit at the terminals.
Step 4. Install Cable Gland or Connector (if required):
For connections that require cable connectors (especially in industrial or outdoor applications) to help reduce stress and protect the connection from dust, moisture, and other environmental factors, slide the connector onto the cable before connecting the wire, making sure the screws or clamps are firmly tightened to prevent the wire from pulling out.
Step 5. Connect to the Terminal:
- Loosen the terminal screws on the device or appliance which the cable is to be connected.
- Insert the prepared wires into the corresponding terminals according to the color code(live, neutral, and ground).
- Tighten the screws but do not over-tighten them, and at the same time, do not expose the bare wire outside the terminal.
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Step 6. Insulate and Secure the Connection:
Use electrical tape or heat shrink tubing over any exposed conductors or terminal connections to insulate them properly. Use cable ties or clamps as needed to support.
Step 7. Test the Connection
Once everything is connected and secured, it’s essential to use a multimeter to check for continuity, correct polarity, and the absence of short circuits.
- Turn off the power at the mains before attempting any electrical work.
- Check the cable and connections for any signs of wear or damage before and after the connection.
- Ensure that the flex electrical cable type is rated appropriately for the voltage and current of the application.
- Ensure that the circuit is protected by appropriate circuit breaker or fuse to prevent overload.
Adhering to these guidelines can facilitate the establishment of a safe and dependable connection when handling flex electrical cables. When in doubt, consult local electrical codes, and the manufacturer’s instructions are always recommended.
To sum up, flex electrical cables offer indispensable benefits for applications demanding flexibility and movement. Whether it’s for connecting appliances, portable devices, or certain fixed installations, understanding their capabilities, limitations, and connection methods improves safety and effectiveness. If you have any questions about flex electrical cables, ZW Cable, a professional flex cable manufacturer can provide you with high-quality custom solutions. For the best flexible extension cord, ZW Cable also has you covered.