With all of the fine points and minutiae of the different types of electrical wire and cables out there, figuring out what is up and what is down can get a little bit dense; therefore we are going to step back and figure out what some of the finer points of fire alarm cables are.
Before we get there, though, we have to take a look at what some of the more obtuse points are and what they mean. Let’s start with the obvious – cables. Just what is a cable and how is it different from a wire?
The answer is much simpler than you might have guessed and it is really not technical at all. A wire is one strand of a conductor, which is likely to be copper as that is widely used in circuitry. A cable is simply a number of wires wrapped together. In other words, a wire is one strand and a cable is a bunch of them together. You can’t get a cable unless you start with wire.
Then there is the concept of alarm cable. Alarm cable is simple the cable that is used to construct the circuitry of an alarm system, but it possesses certain traits that make it suitable to these applications, as you might have guessed. Additionally, fire alarm cables possess traits that make them better suited to serve fire alarm systems than other types of alarm cables.
Alarm cables, in general, must maintain constant monitoring and communication between the nodes of a system, such as smoke detectors. Without constant surveillance, the system would then be no good, as communication is its basic purpose. As a result, most alarm cables draw very low voltage and can stay operational even when little current is applied to them.
As you may have guessed, fire alarm cables monitor systems that are vital, in accordance not only with the ideals of safety but with the law. If a fire alarm system were to lose its function, it wouldn’t be much good to anyone.
High uptime is not the only thing that is required for fire alarm cables. Fire alarm cables should also be made with insulation that is heat resistant and does not produce toxic smoke when heat is applied to them. Since these cables may necessarily come into contact with high heat, it is imperative that they maintain their functionality.
You will also see some other terms associated with fire alarm cables, such as shielded cables and cables rated for riser or plenum space. To shed a little bit of light on this, cables that are rated for plenum space in a building can be wired through the open space above the ceiling tiles. If they are riser rated, they cannot be used in plenum space.
Shielded cables refer to cables that have structural features that suit them to be able to deflect electronic interference, which becomes more pronounced over long distances. Unshielded cables have less protection against electromagnetic interference and are less suitable in situations exposed to a lot of interference. Work with an electrical engineer if you have questions about when and where what types of cables are suitable for use.
Of course, you could also reach out to the specialists at EWCS Wire through their online store, EWCSWire.com. There you will find a team that is ready and willing to help you and a selection of products that can’t be matched. Their expertise extends much farther than fire alarm and other security cables, though – on their website you will also find a number of other specialty cables and wires. Visit their website, listed above, or contact their team at [email protected]