WesBell Electronics
Wire and Cable Blog



Alpha FIT Heat Shrink Tubing Polyolefin and PVC

Alpha Wire engineers and manufactures heat shrink tubing to best fit their Xtra Guard electronic cables and many of their other products. Their brand name is FIT® shrinkable tubing which is a very advanced type of tubing compared to traditional polyolefin and PVC shrinkable tubing.

The most basic 2 to 1 polyolefin shrink tubing is Alpha’s part number FIT 221. It commonly used for general purpose repairs, wire and cable harnessing and cable and connector protection. The Alpha FIT 750 is a similar version with an adhesive inner lining to adhere much better to the application. The FIT 221 version also comes in a FIT 221V that makes it flame retardant to the UL VW-1 and CSA OFT flame retardancy approvals.

There are also a few options for 3 to 1 and 4 to 1 shrink ratios that allow the tubing to shrink down to different diameters for odd shapes that need tubing. Sometimes a cable is 1″ in diameter with a connector over it that’s 2″ in diameter which means it will need a tubing that can shrink down to 2″ and 1″ for a nice fit to both parts. An Alpha Wire FIT 321 tubing in 3″ will shrink as far down as 1″ giving the connector and cable a snug fit.

There are about 20 different types of FIT heat shrink tubing in Alpha’s catalog that offer water resistance, chemical resistance, protection and repair, splice protection, underground splice protection and temperature ratings reaching over 250°C.

The bulk of FIT tubing is irradiated polyolefin and PVC, but there’s also an FEP and TFE tubing available that offers shrink ratios of 1.2 to 1 and 1.5 to 1. This is high temperature shrink tubing in 200°C and 250°C which is commonly used for fiber optic applications, high temperature wire and cable, digital electronics and extremely caustic environments.

WesBell Electronics has had a great relationship with Alpha Wire for over 20 years which gives us very competitive pricing and quick answers when you need your wire, cable or tubing “yesterday”. Please call if you have any questions about our standard polyolefin tubing or Alpha Wire brand name FIT heat shrinkable tubing.

WesBell Electronics Inc
(800) 334-8400

XTRA Guard 3 Alpha Electronic Shielded Cable

Alpha Wire engineered and manufactures an XTRA Guard 3 material that’s suitable for direct burial in the Earth without the costly use of conduit. These electronic underground cables come in unshielded, shielded, 300 volt, 600 volt and Alpha supra shield options.

XTRA guard 3 direct burial cables have 5 times the water resistance of standard PVC cables due to its specially formulated Ethylene Propylene Copolymer jacket. This gives the cable outstanding service life and ultraviolet light stability. It’s available is multiconductor and multi pair with as many as 60 conductors per cable.

Common applications for XTRA Guard 3 are inter-building communications, satellite communications equipment, land irrigation systems, outdoor security systems, outdoor scoreboards and displays and pipeline sensor controls. Alpha manufactures a superior cable for standard applications extending the life of the application to avoid replacement cables and installations in the future.

XTRA Guard cables also come in PVC jackets for high technology applications and TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer) for mining, paper, wood and pulp operations. The TPE jacket has excellent low and high heat resistance from -60°C to 125°C. There’s a total of 6 types of XTRA Guard material covering most applications with a superior Alpha Wire type of electronic cable.

The standard foil shield that Alpha manufactures is an aluminum polyester foils shield facing in with a tinned copper drain wire. Common reasons for a foil shield are low cost, ease of termination, low frequency interface and 100% coverage over the core of the cable. They also make a supra shield which is an aluminum polyester aluminum foil shield with an overall braid shield for the maximum protection. Common reasons for a supra shield are high frequency interface and high physical strength.

Please call us if you’re looking for any type of Alpha Wire products so that we can assist you. We’ve had a good relationship with Alpha for over 20 years and stock many of their electronic cables in our warehouse with free shipping on orders over $250.

WesBell Electronics Inc
(800) 334-8400

XTRA Guard 2 Multiconductor Electronic Cable

XTRA Guard 2® is manufactured by Alpha Wire as a strongly resistant electronic cable to oils, fuels, solvents and water due to its extra rugged polyurethane jacket. Alpha Wire makes sure their cables are superior to similar cables because they want to stand out in the wire and cable industry.

XTRA Guard 2® is a trade mark name because Alpha designed and created every piece of it down to the over-the-top supra shield. The Alpha supra shield has an aluminum polyester aluminum foil shield with an overall braid shield for the maximum protection. There is also a standard foil shield and an unshielded option for everyday applications.

The conductors in the XTRA Guard 2® series are made with tinned copper strands and a color coded premium PVC insulation. The jacket is a specially formulated polyurethane material manufactured extra rugged for added protection and resistance to the oils, fuels and solvents it comes in contact with.

It features a 90°C temperature rating, unmatched resistance to oils, fuels, solvents, fungus and water, twice the tensile strength of PVC cables, three times the tear and abrasion resistance of PVC and ultraviolet light stability. It also passed a VW-1 and CSA FT1 flame test.

Common applications for XTRA Guard 2® electronic cables are CNC machine centers, automotive assembly plant operations, military ground support systems, packaging machinery, petrochemical plant operations and geophysical exploartion equipment. A standard PVC cable won’t last as long in these applications without the extra rugged jacket and added protection against moisture and solvents.

The standard options Alpha offers for XTRA Guard 2® are unshielded, shielded, 300 volt, 600 volt, multiconductor, multi pair and the supra shield. It comes in awg sizes 24 through 14 with as many copper conductors as 70 in some of the cables. 

Alpha Wire also manufactures XTRA Guard® in premium PVC jacket, direct burial, high / low temperature TPE jacket, chemical resistant FEP jacket and a flexible cable for critical flexible applications. They’re all approved by UL and CSA to assure the specifications will do what Alpha says they can.

Please call us if you need a quote on any Alpha Wire product including their XTRA Guard® cables, heat shrink tubing and hook up wire. We’ve been doing business with Alpha for over 20 years and have developed a great relationship along the way.

WesBell Electronics Inc
(800) 334-8400

Electronic Wire and Cable Section by Manufacturer

We added an electronic wire and cable section to our website geared toward selling our Alpha Wire manufacturer line. They offer many communication cables, shielded and unshielded, with superior protection to standard electronic cables.

Alpha has always taken extra pride in the cables they manufacture because they want their cables to out last each and every similar cable on the market. Instead of just making a PVC jacket like every other manufacturer Alpha Wire makes a premium grade PVC jacket that has UL and CSA approvals for higher and lower temperature ratings.

Alpha Wire has their own brand of electronic cables called XTRA Guard®. Their are six different types of XTRA Guard cables that include shielded, unshielded, PVC, PTFE and flexible. They even have different temperature ranges that reach higher and lower temperatures than the standard cables of its class.

Each XTRA Guard® type has a 300 volt and 600 volt cable that can be shielded or unshielded. They each range from 24 awg to 14 or 16 awg with as many conductors as 70 and as many pairs as 77, so there’s a wide range of applications these cables can be used in. Some of those applications include high technology applications in controlled environments, medical electronics, point of sale equipment, computer peripherals and industrial process controls.

The XTRA Guard 1® material has an unsurpassed flame and moisture resistance, fast and easy stripping of the insulation and jacket, UL and CSA recognition and flexible cable routing requirements. The conductors are manufactured with tinned copper strands and a color coded premium grade PVC insulation. It has passed the VW-1 flame test and CSA FT4 flame test to meet any approvals needed for the application of this cable.

I encourage you to compare the specification sheet of an Alpha cable to another manufacture’s identical cable to see the differences in temperature, flexibility and durability. Alpha makes cables with a longer life than any other cable because they want to keep a good name for themselves so that anyone looking for a superior cable will call them.

We plan on adding many more Alpha Wire products to our website for our customers to find. We’d like to maintain a good reputation for ourselves as well so selling an Alpha product will help our customers know how serious we are about the actual application rather than just the sale of any standard product.

WesBell Electronics Inc
(800) 334-8400

Welding Cable Pricing and Specifications

We’ve been buying and selling welding cable for over 20 years and learning a lot about it along the way. There are two main types of welding cable and many similar types of flexible single conductor power cables.

Welding cable is manufactured as a single conductor wire only and usually comes in black or red. If you need a different color then most manufacturers will make it with a minimum run quantity. The second type of welding cable is much stronger, more flexible and only comes in the color orange.

It’s most commonly used on welders and power supply applications needing a 600 volt single conductor cable. It’s made with flexible 30 awg copper strands making it much more flexible than THHN electrical wire. It also has a rubber EPDM insulation which is more flexible and durable than THHN as well.

This basic welding cable comes in black or red and has a high temperature rating of 105°C. It’s rated for 600 volts and the amps for each gauge size are listed on our website to help you understand which size you need for your particular application. The sizes range from 6 awg to 500 mcm with each larger size carrying more power than the last.

The 6 awg is the smallest carrying about 75 AMPS and weighing 140 pounds per 1000 feet. THHN wire is a single conductor electrical wire and only weighs 98 pounds per 1000 feet which means the PVC insulation is much lighter than the rubber insulation because they both have the same amount of copper in them. The 500 mcm welding cable carries 695 AMPS and weighs 1960 pounds per 1000 feet. The rest of the awg sizes range in between those giving a wide range of power options.

Welding cable costs more than electrical wire because it has the rubber jacket that can withstand higher impact and a higher temperature rating. It also has more flexible copper strands that are more difficult to manufacture. THHN 6 awg has 19 strands which makes it a stiff conductor in order to push it through conduit much easier. Welding cable 6 awg has 259 strands making it more flexible to move around with the welder and coil up easily when you’re finished.

We cut each size of THHN and welding cable by the foot so that you can buy whatever you need for the job you’re doing. We also offer free shipping on orders over $250 and ship from the tax free state of New Hampshire which should each help you save money on each job.

WesBell Electronics Inc
(800) 334-8400

PFTE High Temperature Wire Cost

As a wire and cable distributor we have large quantities of PTFE wire in our stock, so we understand the costs associated with each part of the manufacturing process. It’s becoming more and more difficult to get your hands on because of the high demand for PTFE compound, copper and silver.

Copper is the main cost driver of PVC wire and largers sizes of copper wire because the cost of the insulation is much cheaper leaving copper as the main ingredient. Since copper has been lowering over the last month (October 2011) customers expect pricing to be going down on all types of wire and cable which may not be the case.

PTFE wire has 3 main ingredients including PTFE compound, copper and silver that can drastically change the price of the wire you’re trying to buy. Also, since all three of these materials are very hard for manufcaturers to get, the lead time is as long as 10-12 weeks to get PTFE wire manufactured.

Since PTFE wire is a high temperature wire the insulation needs to resist almost twice as much heat as PVC wire which increases the cost. PTFE is a compound used in manufacturing PTFE insulation which our vendors need to make the wire. The problem is that a PTFE compound manufacturer in Japan was shut down due to the earthquake about a year ago making it more difficult for wire manufacturers to get their hands on the PTFE compound.

Copper has been lowering over the last month which lowers the cost slightly because the bill of materials is less for the manufacturer. However, PTFE is up, material is scarce and lead times are getting longer which are all reasons the price is going up in contrast to a lower copper price. Just because copper is down 20% doesn’t always mean your price will lower 20% as well.

Silver has been a roller coaster ride over the last year going up like a rocket and coming back down just as fast making it very difficult to price wire when the lead time is out 10 weeks. A price today could be 20% different in a week nevermind 10 weeks. It’s currently down compared to its high over the last few months but it’s still up quite a bit from a year ago.

If you have any questions about the cost of PTFE wire or why it costs so much to manufacture PTFE high temperature wire then please call and ask us. We list the current copper pricing on our website for your reference to previous months. This helps you understand why pricing is going up and shows our honesty when pricing is down because when copper lowers, so does your price.

WesBell Electronics Inc
(800) 334-8400

When Should I Buy Copper Electrical Wire?

If you have time wait before buying your copper electrical wire it might be wise to do some research first because you could save a lot of money. The price of copper goes up and down every day just like stocks or real estate which means buying at the right time saves you money.

In October 2011 copper has taken a downward turn for the first time in over a year. Since distributors and manufactures of copper wire seem to increase pricing very quickly as copper rises, consumers expect the same when copper is dropping in price. That seems like the fair way to handle it, but in this money hungry world everyone wants to get there hands on every last dime they can.

You can really start to understand your copper wire distributor during these times because it’s an easy way to find out if they’re being honest or not. We get a lot of phone calls from our website asking for pricing and we’ve heard comments from them saying their current distributor isn’t lowering their pricing at all even though copper has dropped over a $1.00 per pound.

Two things can happen from that scenario depending on the price we give them. The first thing that could happen is we could give them a much lower price and prove to them that their current wire and cable distributor is taking advantage of them. The second thing that could happen is we might give them the same pricing they’re currently getting which means the manufacturers probably haven’t lowered their pricing yet either.

So When Should You Buy Your Copper Electrical Wire?

No one can tell you exactly when to buy copper because it might lower tomorrow and give you a better price. On the other hand copper could go up which might raise your price so when is the right time? The key is to research a little bit more, make more phone calls and figure out who’s honest about their pricing and gives you the best price every time.

If time is an issue then you don’t have much of a choice about how much you’ll pay for the type of wire or cable you need because you’ll probably get similar pricing with each distributor you call. Quantity is also a good way to get distributors and manufacturers to lower their pricing because a bigger order is much more enticing to them.

We can do all of the extras for free here at WesBell. We cut electrical wire to any length you need without minimums, offer free shipping on orders over $250 and ship from the tax free state of New Hampshire saving you money on things besides just the cost of copper wire.

WesBell Electronics Inc
(800) 334-8400

Electrical and Electronic Wire Products Navigation

We decided to change the navigation on our website to better group each type of electrical and electronic wire by keyword for our customers and visitors. We know it will help our customers find what they’re looking for much faster based on how they search for wire and cable.

Before anyone gets to our wire and cable distribution website they must first type a phrase into the search engine. Once the searcher visits our website we can see the phrase that was entered into the search engine, which we then analyze, and alter our website accordingly.

If we get 100 visits based on the term “electrical wire” being typed in then we need to make sure they land on a page with multiple electrical wire items available so that they find what they need as quick as possible. We analyzed each landing page of our website so that we could offer all the products that our visitors are looking for.

We also reworked the side bar product listings because we’ve been adding more products to our website and need to organize it better. Each product is listed based on its keyword rather than our part number to allow our visitors to easily find what they need.

We’ve also added more pictures so that it reassures our customers that they’re buying the correct product online. Sometimes it can be hard to realize you’re buying the right type of electrical wire online because all you can see is the vender part number and about a million different products to choose from.

When you’re on WesBell’s website you’ll find that every page is unique and specific to one item only. You’ll be able to see all of the spcifications, approvals and guage sizes of that type of wire or cable. Please call when you have any questions because we openly give out our phone number instead of hiding it in one of the back pages.

Electrical wire is the biggest product listing on our website including Romex®, UFB, SER, SEU, THHN and MC wire and cable. Each type of electrical wire has similar characteristics and most commonly used in the electrical field carrying current from your electrical panel to all of the lights, outlets and appliances in your home. Bigger awg sizes of electrical wire are used to carry current from the street to your electrical box, which is then distributed throughout your home with smaller types of wire and cable.

Electronic wire and cable includes hook up wire, high temperature wire, multiconductor cables, fire alarm cable, shielded and unshielded cables. Electronic cables are used mostly with indoor electronics such as stereos and appliances. When you take off the back panel of anything electronic you’ll see wires harnesses and cables that need to each have specifications to meet for that application.

Some electronic cables can be basic PVC / PVC cables, some need higher voltage, some need a shield, some need higher temperature and some need to be more flexible than others in order to be approved for that application. These are the types of keywords we like to list our products under because our customers don’t know our part numbers or the manufacturers part numbers. All they know is that they want a “high temperature cable with 3 conductors and a shield” so we list our products accordingly.

Take a walk through our website to see the difference because you’ll find it’s much easier to use than other wire and cable websites that list their products by their own part number. Call us if you have any questions so that we can help make sure you have the best type of wire or cable for your application at the cheapest price possible.

WesBell Electronics Inc
(800) 334-8400

Fire Alarm Wire and Cable – FPLR, FPLP Shielded and Unshielded

Fire alarm cable has now been added to our website under multiconductor cables. We wanted to add the riser and plenum alarm wire because we feel it compliments our electronic wire line very well. Many people looking for PVC multiconductor cables will also need riser and plenum fire alarm cables as well.

Fire alarm wire comes in shielded and unshielded versions which both offer a riser and plenum option. It’s usually offered in a red jacket but, depending on the gauge size and conductor count, you can get a few different color options.

Riser alarm wire is also known as FPLR for Fire Alarm Riser. The unshielded version of a riser cable will be the cheapest option between the four because it doesn’t have a shield or the added protection of the plenum jacket. It’s commonly installed virtically in the walls of your home where very little air can get to it.

Plenum alarm wire is also known as FPLP for Fire Alarm Plenum. The shielded version will be the most expensive type because of the Plenum PVC insulation and the added cost of the shield. Plenum PVC insulation protects the conductors from burning and spreading a fire. It’s commonly installed horizontally along your home’s ceiling because air can get into those areas which would cause a riser cable to spread the fire.

Riser, plenum, shielded and unshielded are the four most basic types of fire alarm wire but we also offer a contractor grade alarm wire for those who need it. Each type comes in 22 awg, 18 awg, 16 awg and 14 awg with anywhere from 2 to 10 condutors. Alarm wire conductors have polypropylene insulation, solid copper conductors and the shielded versions come with an additional drain wire.

WesBell stocks fire alarm wire in very high quantities so that we can supply our customers with a quick turn around whether they have a small job or a large commercial job to get done. “Time is money” and we let our customers know when their material will show up to the job site so that they can plan accordingly and save as much money as possible.

We also offer free shipping on orders over $250 and ship from NH so that you won’t have to pay taxes on the material you buy from us. Most of our wire and cable offer a free cutting charge to any length you need to buy so that you can limit waste in every possible area. Please call us if you have any questions of comments.

WesBell Electronics Inc
(800) 334-8400