WesBell Electronics
Wire and Cable Blog

Alpha PTFE High Temperature Electrical Wire

Alpha PTFE WireAlpha Wire engineers and manufactures Certified Performance High Reliability TFE PTFE insulated electrical wire for high temperature applications. It has all of the necessary approvals needed to meet Type E, M16878/4 and UL1213 specifications for 600 volts and 200ºC. Alpha stocks many different gauge sizes, color options and spool sizes to fit the needs of its customers.

Alpha Wire is a manufacturer that doesn’t sell to the general public. They take on distributors of wire and cable that need to meet certain dollar amounts in sales each year in order to remain a stocking supplier of their material. Alpha is known for manufacturing performance enhanced wire and cable that’s slightly advanced to its competitors in order to develop a brand name product.

TFE PTFE high temperature electrical wire (Buy here) comes in AWG (American Wire Gauge) sizes 30 through 10 depending on the amount of amperage you need to support. The voltage, temperature rating and applications remain the same because the insulation over the copper remains the same. The difference between each gauge size lies in the amount of copper which directly relates to the amount of power your application needs.

Alpha’s TFE PTFE wire is an upgrade to standard PVC insulated hook up wire because of the temperature increase. PVC wire is rated for 105ºC while TFE PTFE wire is rated for 200ºC due to the specially engineered TFE insulation. This particular high temperature wire meets the Military Specification M16878/4 but you can upgrade once again to the M16878/5 for the same wire with a 1000 volt rating.

Also known as Type E, M16878/4 insulation will resist all chemicals; have low coefficient of friction and outstanding electrical properties in applications reaching up to 200ºC. PTFE wire is commonly used in military harnessing, medical electronics, power supply lead wire and appliance wiring when temperatures get higher than 105ºC and as high as 200ºC.

There are also flexibility differences between the 7 strand and 19 strand options. For instance, Alpha 5853 and Alpha 5853/19 are both 26 AWG Type E wires but 5853 has 7 strands of 34 AWG copper and 5853/19 has 19 strands of 38 AWG copper. Both equate to the same diameter to exert the same amount of amperage but the smaller copper strands used in Alpha 5853/19 create more flexibility for the user during the assembly process.

Make sure you speak to your wire and cable supplier to make sure that you need this particular type of electrical wire. There are many options for hook up wire out there with all different price differences that match their abilities to perform. Buying the correct type of wire could save you money or aware you of the fact that you’re not quite buying enough to fit your application.

Written by: Chris Bell

Electronic Cable For Wiring Of OEM Equipment

OEM Electronic CablesElectronic cables for OEM equipment come in many variations due to voltage, conductors and shielding differences. If you can use an unshielded cable compared to a shielded cable you’re going to save some money, so make sure you understand the application before you purchase your cable, unless you’ve already consulted with an electrician.

Alpha Wire XTRA GUARD® 1 cables are ideal for OEM equipment because they’re flame and moisture resistant, color coded and covered with an extra premium grade PVC jacket for added life. Specifically, their applications include high technology applications, medical equipment, point-of-sale equipment, computer peripherals and industrial process controls.

Electronic Cable Voltage

OEM equipment cables are typically manufactured in 300 or 600 volts with as many as 60 conductors inside of a single cable. The jacket thickness of a 300 volts cable is .032” compared to the jacket thickness of a 600 volt cable at .063”. You’ll have to make sure the cable track can handle the additional diameter of the 600 volt electronic cable.

Shielding For OEM Equipment

A shield is needed when cables run next to each other in cable track because there is EMI (Electromechanical Interference) which can hurt the performance of the conductors. Electronic cables for OEM equipment come in unshielded, Foil shielded and Braid/Foil shielded. A foil shield is a basic way to block small amounts of EMI, such as running two cables next to each other. A Braid/Foil shield is required when multiple cables run together in cable track creating a much higher rate of EMI that needs to be limited with the shielding.

Conductors and Pairs

You might hear the term “multi conductor” which means more than one wire inside of the cable. “Stranding” is mentioned when discussing the very thin copper strands inside each wire of the cable. A “multi pair” cable has pairs of two conductors twisted together which also blocks EMI. So, a 4 conductor electronic cable will have a total of 4 wires inside while a 4 pair cable will have a total of 8 wires inside with each pair twisted together. Many twisted pair cables also have a shield covering each pair along with an overall shield for very high amounts of EMI.

We higher recommend Alpha XTRA GUARD® electronic cables for OEM equipment installations. They have engineers that devote a lot of time to making sure their cables outlast the competition and provide the absolute best performance while running the equipment.

Written by: Chris Bell

Carolprene® Welding Cable – General Cable Brand

General Cable engineers and manufactures their brand of Carolprene® welding cable. Carolprene® is their special version of a rubber Neoprene insulation that has been slightly enhanced by the engineers as General Cable.

Standard welding cable used in garages and small shops don’t require all of the special approvals that industrial job sites require such as UL, CSA and MSHA. Well, without those approvals there isn’t any third party source approving, or disapproving, the way that the welding cable is manufactured. That’s one of the reasons General Cable wants to brand their product with a Carolprene® trade mark to prove its quality.

How Do You Know If You Are Getting Quality Welding Cable?

Carolprene Welding CableThe copper stranding and insulation are the two biggest parts to look at when buying welding cable. Buying a Carolprene® product will assure you of the quality because they have a brand name to uphold. Otherwise, make sure it’s Class K stranding which uses 30 AWG copper strands as a flexibility enhancer. Second, make sure it has rubber EPDM, or Neoprene, insulation instead of Thermoplastic. Thermoplastic insulation is exactly what it sounds like, plastic. It’s cheaper and it can be used as an alternative if your application can handle the lower quality but it’s not recommended for most welding applications.

Upgrade From Carolprene® to Super Vu-Tron®

Super Vu-Tron® is also a brand name owned by General Cable. It’s an upgrade to Carolprene® because it has Class M 34 AWG stranding for added flexibility and a stronger insulation for industrial applications that withstands a lot more impact each day. Super Vu-Tron welding cables are only manufactured in orange and they’re supplied with UL, CSA and MSHA markings on the insulation. Due to the upgraded insulation these can also handle more AMPS per gauge size. A 6 AWG welding cable is rated for 75 AMPS and a Super Vu-Tron 6 AWG cable is rated for 100 AMPS.

There are plenty of manufacturers that will make a great cable with similar materials as the Carolprene® product. However, buying the Carolprene® name will assure you of the quality and leave all questioning aside. Buying a basic welding cable without a top manufacturer’s name attached to it could be the reason your cable isn’t handling well against the daily conditions it’s exposed to.

Written by: Chris Bell
ISO 9001 Certified

Types of Tray Cable Explained

The term “tray cable” was developed through its installation in cable tray. Each type of insulation is engineered to be able to withstand some type of environmental condition that could possibly damage the copper underneath it. In cable tray, insulation would come in contact with moisture, oils and solvents and if it’s not protective enough to withstand those things the copper could be affected.

The first two things to determine about your tray cable will be the voltage and the shielding. There is a 300 volt version called PLTC (Power Limited Tray Cable) and a 600 volt “tray cable” for applications requiring more power. There are three versions of shielding that are offered including unshielded, shielded and individually shielded.

Tray Cable Shielding

Shielded Tray CableAn unshielded tray cable is the cheapest and most basic version you can get if your application doesn’t need to block EMI (Electromechanical Interference). When two cables run next to each other in tray or duct there can be a certain amount of interference which is blocked with a shield over the conductors. An aluminum foil polyester shield wraps around all of the conductors to limit the amount of EMI. To picture it in your mind, imagine a glowing circumference pulsating around each of the cables. When they connect there’s “interference” so the shielding shrinks that circumference to limit the amount of interference.

Shielded Tray CableAn individually shielded tray cable has a shield around each pair of wires inside the cable. So a “3 pair” cable has an individual shield around each pair and an overall shield wrapping around all of the conductors together. This is needed when each pair can interfere with each other. The shield will limit the EMI between each set of two wires so that there is a clean signal passing through.

Flexible Tray Cables

Once you decide the voltage and the shielding for your tray cable you will just need to figure out the AWG (American Wire Gauge) and the amount of copper conductors. The flexibility remains the same throughout most tray cables because the installation types are nearly all the same. When a cable is being snaked through duct, or pushed through cable tray, added flexibility would only hurt the process. Therefore, most tray cables come with stiff copper strands to keep a firm hold during the installation in tray and duct.

There are plenty of flexible electronic cables available that are similar to tray cables that can be used if your installation is a bit different than the standard. So, make sure that the insulation with withstand everything that the cable will be exposed to and include the option of added flexibility to your cable. It will bend easier and wrap around corners easier but it will not be the best option for a cable installed in conduit or duct.

Written by: Chris Bell

Continuous Flexible Electronic Cables

The phrase “flexible cable” is sometimes misunderstood because there are different levels of flexibility depending on your application. Some cable catagories are more flexible than others (Electronic VS Electrical), but the individual cable may still be a less flexible option when compared to similar cables in its family.

Flexible Cables

Flexible Welding CableWelding cable is much more flexible than THHN electrical wire because they are used in completely different applications. However, standard welding cable is actually a less flexible option in the single conductor portable cord family. There is Class K and Class M stranding for welding cable which are “standard” and “extra flexible”. Class K stranding uses 30 AWG copper strands and Class M stranding uses, many more, 34 AWG copper strands to make a more flexible cable. Neither cable is a “continuous flexible cable” though. Click here to buy welding cable >>

Flexible Electronic Cables

Electronic cables are slightly different than the two types of cables mentioned above. Electronic cables are more commonly used indoors in machinery and equipment. These cables either send power to the equipment or they’re attached to the equipment sending power back and forth. A “flexible cable” can bend into place, circle around tight areas and remain still in the application. “Continuous flexible cables” will be moving back and forth while the machine is running.

Continuous Flexible Cables

Continuous Flexible CablesThe word “continuous” means that the cable, not only needs to be flexible, but also needs to be able to withstand the added damage of being twisted, bent and moved during the actual application. As the machine, or robot, is moving the cable will need to move as well. A typical electronic cable used in this application would be torn to shreds fairly quickly. These special continuous flexible cables are engineered to be able to move along with machine movements without having to be replaced in a year.


In terms of “bend ability” the amount of flexibility is determined by the size of copper strands used to manufacture the cable. As mentioned in the second paragraph, a welding cable with 34 AWG strands is more flexible than the welding cable with 30 AWG strands. A more dramatic difference to the naked eye would be the bend ability of a 20 AWG copper strand compared to an 8 AWG copper strand.

Obviously, the 20 AWG wire is easier to bend in your hand, so bundling multiple 20 AWG wires together to form the diameter of an 8 AWG wire would prove to be more flexible than the solid strand of 8 AWG. Remember, just because it’s more flexible doesn’t mean that it can be bent and twisted during the application. It simply means it can bend around corners better and easier than the less flexible option.

Written by: Chris Bell