Belden Essential Cable Facts: Operating Voltage

VIDEO: Quality tests conducted on Belden cables [1:07]


The voltage capacity of a cable depends on a number of factors including the dielectric properties and wall thickness of the insulation. Unfortunately, there are many inferior cables on the market today that are not designed to accommodate the voltage of the systems in which they are applied. This can cause system failure and even lead to fire ignition.

Which cable components are critical?

When it comes to operating voltage, the key components are:

  • The conductor: the core of the cable that transfers energy or signals from point to point.
  • Insulation: a dielectric that separates the cable conductors both physically and electrically so that signal or energy transmission is maintained.

What is the risk of operating voltage?

The use of a cable that is not designed to accommodate the system voltage can be very hazardous, resulting in a breakdown of the cable insulation and, most concerning, a danger of fire.

What is the effect of operating voltage on sub-standard cable?

Degradation of insulation due to voltage stress is a common cause of cable failure. It is imperative that the capability of the cable insulation provides safety for the lifetime of the cable and the use of premium grade materials in a cable design will support this.

What risks does this pose to a building or system?

  • System failure: subjecting a cable to voltage stress not supported by the cable design can cause the cable to fail with a subsequent system breakdown.
  • Fire ignition hazard: voltage stress can ultimately lead to fire ignition in an inferior cable.
  • Fire transfer hazard: when a sub-standard cable is used as a building link sets fire, there is an increased risk of fire transfer and this could lead to liability claims.