Shielded Cable VS Unshielded Cable: Which one do you need?

Do you hope for the proper transmission of data with little or no external interference? Shielded vs unshielded cables are essential for different situations. Hence, it is important to understand the environment that requires which kind of cables.

The truth is, there are always many choices. What makes a shielded cable  different from an unshielded cable?

These different types of cables perform specified functions and are suitable in various environments. Let’s find out!

Shielded Cable VS Unshielded Cable

Chaptre One:The Material Of Shield

Shielded cables are cable types that contain conductors enclosed in a conductive layer. This layer helps to reduce electrical noise and keeps the signal steady.

Materials of the shield are:

Strands of braided copper and similar metals: Strands of braided copper and similar metals are a woven design comprising of gauge wires. The shield may be a composition of any form of copper or metal like aluminium or steel.

It is the oldest form of shielding material. These shielding materials are difficult to terminate.

Asides aluminium and steel, Rayon and Fiberglass play the roles of strength materials but are not necessary for shielding because they are non-conductive.

Conducting polymers: 

They conduct electricity. These materials are semiconductors. The materials are mainly organic materials.

Spiral copper tape:

 This type of material shields comprises of various material forms. An adhesive is usually a tool for joining the material like polyester and aluminium together.

The material is more flexible than the braided copper but provides little mechanical support.

Therefore, shielded cables are important for safety purposes.

An image of manufactured metal shielding braids

Chapter Two:The Function Of Shielded Cable

Electromagnetic interference, without mincing words, is noise. It is an external interference that comes in the form of electrical currents and voltage that disrupts the flow of a circuit and result in loss of data.

This noise is a product of natural or artificial objects such as machinery, phones, TV or electrical circuits. The noise interferes with the operation of equipment.

When this interference persists, it causes data error and affects Gigabit Ethernet.
Natural Electromagnetic interference is thunderstorm, snow and rainfall. These factors are certainly going to ruin the proper functioning of equipment. Artificial Electromagnetic interference is humanmade. These are sounds from vehicle ignition, mobile phones, and generators, and so on.

The source of this interference is power cables which connect to motors and generators. Ironically, the cables are also a source of the noise. It is so because the wiring of shielded cables conducts noise as well.

Since this is true, the best way to deal with the situation is to make use of a shielded cable.

Shielded cables perform some functions. They include:

They reduce the transfer of power of electrical noise common in a commercial environment with a presence of high electrical power.

Shielded cables are not transparent to electromagnetic energy. As such, they protect the environment from hazard.

An image of wave mode electromagnetic power abstract background

Chapter Three:Where And When To Use Shielded Cable

When to use it?

Shielded cables are necessary for averting or minimising external interference that mars the transfer of data and information. It also combats the adverse effects of noise on signals and transmission.

These cables are necessary for curbing the negative effects of electromagnetic interference in industrial and commercial environments.

Additionally, shielded cables are best when there is a need to keep the cables free from scrapes, abrasion, spill and environmental moisture. It is obtainable because of the insulation that protects the cable.

Where to use it?

Shielded cables are suitable in different environments. Its relevance is very evident in homes and public environments. Some of the places that suit the use of these cables are:

Radio stations: 

These cables are relevant in radio houses to curb the effects of EMI

An image of a studio microphone pop shield on mic

Consumer electronics: 

These include mobile phones, television and other home appliances

Airports: 

There is quite some large equipment in airports. The equipment, to a large extent, is electrical. These electrical materials pose a threat to proper equipment operation. But, shielded cables reduce electrical noise.

Heavy industrial settings: 

Industrial equipment like manufacturing plants and data centres that make use of data need to make use of shielded cables. The reason is not far- fetched. Shielded cables help to protect against loss of data as a result of external interference.

An image of a cable structure twisted pair foil shielded

Chapter Four:Where And When To Use The Unshielded Cable

When to use it?

Unshielded cables like the name suggest they did not own a shield to reduce external interference. Rather, the nature of the design of its twisted pairs inside the cable is meant to help it cancel electromagnetic interference. Though, this is not obtainable yet.

More so, the cables are versatile, lightweight and are less expensive than the shielded cables. The cables are suitable for environments that require easy installation and maintenance.

Since there are a lot of benefits to using shielded cables, there are still some products that require unshielded cables to function properly. Unshielded cables are necessary for industrial environment that makes use of a large amount of power.

Additionally, these cables are not prone to breakage like the shielded cable type. Its flexibility nature gives it such an advantage.

Where to use it?

As earlier stated, the unshielded cables play several roles in certain environments. These environments are:

Indoors – The cables are quick to install and maintain and as such are suitable for indoor activities.

Local Area Network (LAN): 

The flexibility of the unshielded cables makes it appropriate to suit a local network connection. A typical small business and moderate- sized office use unshielded cables for its activities.

Controlled industrial environment: 

Various places that are suitable for housing cables in metal conduits and cabinets make use of unshielded cables. This controlled environment protects the cable from electromagnetic interference.

An image of a bunch of grey unshielded twisted pair cables

Chapter Five:More Difference About Shielded And Unshielded Cable

Asides the fact that shielded cables help to prevent or reduce electromagnetic interference, there are lots of differences between shielded and unshielded cables. These differences are necessary for determining choice patterns. The differences include:

Choice of machinery: 

The choice of machinery determines the type of cable to purchase. Shielded cables are best for healthcare facilities and place that require heavy equipment. The reason is that shielded machinery possesses a shield that prevents radio frequency from affecting proper transmission.

Installation time for both cables: 

One factor that distinguishes both cables is the installation time. The latest version of shielded cable comes with an easy installation process. Though, it takes a longer time to detach shield off the cable. Unshielded cables take a longer time to test the source of the interference process. But, installing shielded cables do not take too much time.

Cost:

 Cost is always a key factor in making decisions. Shielded cables are more expensive than unshielded cables. Moreover, all things being equal, the cost is worth its superior performance.

Future expectations: 

Another important thing to take notice of is the fate of the cable in the nearest future. Shielded cables do not require constant upgrading because its current transmission rate is 10 GB/s. Its survival in the future is promising than unshielded cables.

Bonding process: 

Installing shielded cables requires a lot of bonding time and process than unshielded cables. However, the signal it transmits is a reflection of the data it got.

Source of interference: Interference affects transmission process. In determining the type of cable to settle for, it is important to have an understanding of the source of the noise. In order to curb this nuisance, it is necessary to settle for shielded cables because its shields control or eliminates interference.

Conclusion

The difference between shielded and unshielded cables is much more than what the eye sees, and it is a very difficult task for an inexperienced person.

Don’t worry, you found us, and we are very happy to solve your problem.

If you would like more information on the cable or would like to order a cable, please contact us as soon as possible.

Hey, I am John, General manager of Cloom and OurPCB.

I am a responsible, intelligent and experienced business professional with an extensive background in the electronics industry.

Reach me at sales@wiringo.com to get a quote for your projects.

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