Technical FAQS

Wire & Cable Glossary (from C-D)


Wire & Cable Glossary

(from C-D)


A group of individually insulated conductors in twisted or parallel configuration, with or without an overall covering.

Cable Tray: 

A raceway consisting of a prefabricated structure of roughing and fittings, formed and constructed so that cables may be readily installed and removed without injury.


The act of twisting together two or more insulated components by machine to form a cable.


Storage of electrically separated charges between two plates having different potentials. The value depends largely on the surface area of the plates and the distance between them.

Certified Test Report (CTR): 

A report providing actual test data on a cable.Tests are normally run by a Quality Control Department, which shows that the product being shipped conforms to test specifications.

Circuit Sizes: 

A popular term for building wire sizes 14 through 10 AWG.

Circular Mil: 

A measurement used for the area of wire, calculated by squaring the diameter.1 circular mil = (.001)2 x 106

Coefficient of Expansion: 

The fractional change in dimension of a material given a unit change in temperature.

Cold Bend: 

Test procedure whereby a sample of wire or cable is wound around a mandrel of a specified size within a cold chamber, at a specified temperature for a given number of turns at a given rate of speed. The sample is then removed and examined for defects or deterioration in the materials or construction.

Cold Flow: 

Permanent deformation of a material due to a mechanical force.

Color Code: 

A color system for circuit identification by use of solid colors,colored stripes, tracers, braids,surface printing, etc.


The ability of dissimilar materials to exist in mutual proximity or contact without changing their physical or electrical properties.


A term used to designate an insulating and jacketing material made by mixing two or more ingredients. To compound; the mixing together of two or more different materials to make one material.

Concentric Stranding: 

A central wire surrounded by one or more layers of helically wound strands in a fixed round geometric arrangement. The most common fixed installation type conductors are:

1) Round - no diameter reduction

2) Compressed - approximately 3% diameter reduction

3) Compact - approximately 10% diameter reduction


A term used in describing the capability of a material to carry an electrical charge. Usually expressed as a percentage of copper conductivity copper being one hundred percent (100%). 


Any material capable of carrying an electrical charge easily.


A tube or trough for protecting electrical wires and cables. It may be a solid or flexible tube in which insulated electrical wires are run.


A device used to physically and electrically connect two or more conductors.

Continuity Check: 

A test to determine whether electrical current flows continuously throughout the length of a single wire or individual wires in a cable.

Continuous Vulcanization:

Simultaneous extrusion and vulcanization of wire coating materials in a continuous process.


In cables, a term used to denote a component or assembly of components, over which other materials are applied, such as additional components, shield, sheath, or amor.


The process or result of a material being eaten or worn away, usually by chemical reaction.


Bare copper, usually softdrawn, buried around the perimeter of a structure for grounding purposes when grounding electrical transmission towers - usually running parallel to the overhead lines along the right-of-way.A grounding installation employed where deep ground rods cannot effectively be used due to dry, rocky, or poor soil.


The minute cracks on the surface of plastic materials.


The dimensional change with time of a material under a mechanical load.

Crimp Termination: 

A wire termination that is applied by physical pressure of terminal to wire.


Inter-molecular bonds between long chain thermoplastic polymers by chemical or electron bombardment means. The properties of the resulting thermosetting material are usually improved.

Cross-Sectional Area: 

The area of the cut surface of an object cut at right angles to the length of the object.


Abbreviation for Canadian Standards Association, The Canadian counterpart of Underwriters Laboratories.


The rate of flow of electricity in a circuit, measured in amperes.

Current, Alternating (A.C.): 

An electric current that periodically reverses

direction of electron flow. The number of full cycles occurring in a given unit of time (one second) is called the frequency of the current.

Current Carrying Capacity: 

The maximum current an insulated conductor or cable can continuously carry without exceeding its temperature rating. It is also called ampacity.

Current, Direct (D.C.): 

Electrical current whose electrons flow in one direction only; it may be constant or pulsating as long as their movement is in the same direction.

Cut-Through Resistance: 

The ability of a material to withstand mechanical pressure, usually a sharp edge of prescribed radius, without separation.


The complete sequence of alternation or reversal of the flow of an alternating electric current. (See Hertz.)


Abbreviation for "Direct Current."

Derating Factor: 

A factor used to reduce the current-carrying capacity of a wire when used in environments other than that for which the value was established.


1) Any insulating medium which intervenes between two conductors and permits electrostatic attraction and repulsion to take place across it. 

2) A material having the property that energy required to establish an electric field is recoverable in whole or in part, as electric energy.

Dielectric Breakdown: 

The voltage at which a dielectric material is punctured, which is divisible by thickness to give dielectric strength.

Dielectric Constant (K): 

The ratio of the capacitance of a condenser with dielectric between the electrodes to the capacitance when air is between the electrodes. Also called Permittivity and Specific Inductive Capacity.

Dielectric Strength: 

The voltage which an insulation can withstand before breakdown occurs. Usually expressed as a voltage gradient (such as volts per mil). 

Dielectric Test: 

A test in which a higher than the rated voltage is applied for a specified time to determine the adequacy of the insulation under normal conditions.

Direct Burial Cable: 

A cable installed directly in the earth.

Direct Current (D.C.): 

An electric current which flows in only one direction.

Direction of Lay: 

The direction, either clock-wise or counterclockwise, of a conductor or group of conductors when looking axially down a cable length.


In the manufacturing of wire, pulling the metal through a die or series of dies for reduction of diameter to a specified size.


An underground or overhead tube used for carrying electrical conductors.


A characteristic of an electrical service that describes the degree of regularity of the load over time.

Continuous Duty - A duty of the load which is substantially constant over

prolonged time.

Short Time Duty - A duty of the load which is substantially constant for a

short and defined time.

Intermittent Duty - A duty of the load having defined periods of:

(a) Load and no-load

(b) Load and rest, and

(c) Load, no load, and rest

Periodic Duty · A duty of the load in which the load conditions are regularly recurrent.

Varying Duty - A duty of the load having loads over intervals of time, both of which are subject to wide variation.