Ensuring a reliable and efficient supply of electricity to residential and commercial properties hinges on service entrance cables. This cable is the conduit through which electrical power is transported from the utility pole to the primary electrical panel. It also acts as a protective shield, securing the electrical wiring from external elements, such as extreme temperatures and physical damage.
This article will explore the importance of service entrance cables, their different types, and their installation process.
What Are Service Entrance Cables?
A service entrance cable is the link between the power line provided by the utility company and the main electrical panel. It is typically constructed using aluminum or copper, two highly conductive metals that facilitate efficient electricity transmission.
Since the cable is often exposed to outdoor conditions, it is engineered to withstand the elements. Therefore, it is usually insulated and jacketed to protect against moisture, sunlight, temperature variations, and physical damage. The insulation and jacketing materials used in its construction also provide a protective barrier, ensuring the longevity and durability of the cable.
Types of Service Entrance Cables and Their Installation Processes
Three main types of service entrance cables are commonly used in electrical installations. Here is an overview of each:
Overhead Service Entrance Cable
An overhead service entrance cable is intended for installations where the utility lines are suspended above the ground. This cable is typically used in areas where power lines are mounted on poles or other structures. One of its features is its aerial installation, where the cable is suspended from utility poles or other support structures.
This cable is available in various sizes and configurations to accommodate power requirements and local electrical code regulations. It is typically made of aluminum or copper, both known for their excellent conductivity properties. Nonetheless, the choice of conductor material depends on factors such as electrical load, cost considerations, and local regulations.
Underground Service Entrance Cable
An underground service entrance cable is specifically designed for electrical installations where the utility lines are buried underground. It is commonly used in areas where the power lines are routed beneath the surface to provide electricity to residential or commercial buildings. It is also laid in trenches or conduits, ensuring they remain shielded and secured from external elements and accidental damage.
The use of this cable offers several advantages. First, it eliminates the visual impact of overhead power lines, providing a more aesthetically pleasing environment. Second, it reduces the risk of outages caused by adverse weather conditions, such as high winds, which can affect overhead power lines.
Combination Service Entrance Cable
A combination or duplex service entrance cable combines overhead and underground configurations into one assembly. This versatile and customizable cable is intended for overhead-to-underground power line transition properties. It simplifies the installation process and reduces potential points of failure, ensuring an efficient power supply.
It is important to note that a combination service entrance cable should adhere to local electrical code regulations and specifications. In addition, proper installation techniques should be employed to ensure safe and compliant electrical connections for properties with mixed overhead and underground power lines.
Choose Classic Wire & Cable for Your Wiring Needs
At Classic Wire & Cable, we take pride in providing reliable wires and cables of any length to meet our customers’ specific project requirements! We also offer various value-added services to support every project.
The cost of cables has increased due to the steady rise in copper prices in recent years. As a result, many customers are searching for alternatives to reduce expenses without compromising the quality of their assemblies. Using aluminum conductors instead of copper is one such option.
Although Copper and Aluminum exhibit some notable contrasts, they also share similarities that make them suitable for comparable uses. Thus, customers can save money on their projects by switching to aluminum conductors.
At Classic Wire & Cable, we offer a range of aluminum conductors suitable for various applications. Our engineering team can work with customers to select the right cable. We carry THHN, XHHW-2, RHW-2, and USE-2, SER, SEU, URD, MC products, all available in aluminum.
Using the Ampacity Conversion Chart
Suppose you are considering switching from copper to aluminum conductors to save money on your electrical project. This can be done using the ampacity conversion chart provided by the National Electric Code (NEC) 310.15(B)(16) 2017.
The chart lists the ampacity ratings for different sizes of aluminum conductors based on an ambient temperature of 30 °C. The dimensions are listed in AWG or square millimeters, and the ampacity ratings are listed in amperes (A). To use the chart, locate the size of the copper conductor you would normally use and find the corresponding ampacity rating. Then, find the size of the aluminum conductor with a similar ampacity rating.
Why Aluminum Can Be a Cost-Effective Alternative to Copper
Weight and Cost Savings
Aluminum’s lighter weight compared to copper results in substantial savings in transportation and installation costs. Due to its lower density, a larger quantity of aluminum can achieve the same electrical conductivity level while decreasing the overall product weight. Consequently, expenses for shipping and labor during installation are also reduced.
One way to offset aluminum’s lower conductivity is by designing conductors with larger cross-sectional areas. This approach can decrease resistance and enhance conductivity, improving overall performance.
Copper and aluminum are corrosion-resistant metals, making them suitable for usage in tough environmental conditions. Nonetheless, aluminum is better equipped to handle corrosive surroundings due to its ability to create a protective oxide layer upon exposure to the atmosphere. This layer helps to prevent further corrosion, ultimately extending the lifespan of the aluminum conductor.
Quality Aluminum Building Wire with Classic Wire & Cable
Classic Wire assists you in leveraging the advantages of utilizing aluminum building wires, particularly as copper prices continue to increase. With the aid of our knowledgeable engineering team, we can help you select the appropriate wire solution that suits your project requirements.
We provide various aluminum products tailored to different application needs. Furthermore, our team is dedicated to delivering superior-quality products and expert assistance. Thus, we can guarantee that you can transition to aluminum wires with peace of mind, achieving its cost-saving and performance-boosting benefits.