Insulation Materials

Oct 29, 2021

Insulation needs to be made out of a material with very high electrical resistivity (insulation resistance). If the cable is to be unsheathed (building wire), the insulation must be flame retardant (according to AS/NZS 5000.1).

Other important considerations in selection of insulation material may include:

  • Operating temperature
  • Flexibility
  • Flame retardance
  • Durability
  • Processability
  • Relative cost
  • Chemicals released during combustion
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PVC (Poly vinyl chloride) Compounds

PVC compounds have inherent flame retardance, UV resistance and good flexibility that can be modified with varying amounts of plasticizer oil. Its insulation resistance makes it suitable for low voltage insulation, but it is not high enough to be considered suitable for medium or high voltage cable insulation.

XLPE (Cross-linked low density polyethylene)

XLPE is a thermosetting polymer that is crosslinked via a chemical reaction after being extruded onto the conductor. Cross-linking prevents the polymer from melting at high temperature, essentially improving its high temperature performance. XLPE has a much higher insulation resistance than PVC. This makes it suitable for medium voltage (MV) and high voltage (HV) applications.
XLPE does not contain any halogens and therefore is suitable for use as insulation in low smoke zero halogen cables.

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