The Difference Between Shielded vs Unshielded Cables

fiber cable optic

The network cables play an important role in the proper functioning of the network. There are different types of cables available in the market, and each type has its advantages and disadvantages. The most common types of cables are shielded and unshielded cables.

  • Shielded cables are designed to protect against electromagnetic interference (EMI). They typically have a metal foil or braid surrounding the inner conductor, which helps to confine and dissipate any electromagnetic fields that might otherwise adversely affect the performance of the cable. Shielded cables are used in various applications where EMI is a concern, such as in computer networks, audio/video equipment, and scientific instrumentation.
  • An unshielded cable is a type of cable that does not have a metallic shield surrounding it. This type of cable is often used in low-voltage applications, such as homes and offices. Unshielded cables can be susceptible to interference from other electrical devices, which can cause signal degradation. They can also be more vulnerable to damage from outside sources, such as water or weather. For these reasons, unshielded cables are not often used in high-voltage or critical applications.

Shielded Twisted-pair vs Unshielded: Benefits and Drawbacks

Shielded Cables: Shielding helps reduce electromagnetic interference (EMI) and radio frequency interference (RFI), which can cause signal degradation and data corruption. Shielding also helps protect the cables from electrical noise and power surges, which can damage or destroy the data signals carried by the cables. Additionally, shielding can help prevent people from being exposed to electromagnetic radiation, which can be harmful to health.

The primary drawback of shielded cables is that they can be more expensive than unshielded cables. This is because the extra shielding material adds to the manufacturing cost of the cable. In addition, shielded cables can be more challenging to install than unshielded cables, as the shield needs to be properly grounded at both ends. If not installed correctly, a shielded cable can actually cause electromagnetic interference (EMI) rather than prevent it.

Unshielded Cables: Unshielded cables are typically cheaper than shielded cables, saving you money if you are working on a tight budget. Additionally, they are easier to work with, making them a good choice for DIY projects or if you’re new to working with cables. Finally, unshielded cables don’t require as much maintenance as shielded cables, so they can be a more low-maintenance option over time.

There are a few drawbacks to unshielded cables that should be considered before using them for any application. First, they are more susceptible to electromagnetic interference (EMI). This can result in data loss or corruption, and in some cases, complete signal failure. Second, unshielded cables are also more likely to pick up electrical noise from nearby sources, which can degrade the quality of the transmitted signal. Lastly, unshielded cables are not as durable as shielded cables and may need to be replaced more often.

Also Read: Types of Electrical Wiring in Commercial Buildings

When Should You Use Shielded Cables?

There are a few occasions when shielded cables should be used:

  • When the cable is carrying a signal that is susceptible to interference (for example, an audio or video signal)
  • When the cable is passing through a particularly harsh environment, such as near a high-voltage power line or in an area with a lot of electromagnetic interference (EMI)
  • When the cable has to be run over long distances (shielding can help reduce the amount of noise that travels along the length of the cable)
  • When there is a risk of someone tampering with the data being carried by the cable (for example, if it’s being used for critical data transmission)

On the other hand, unshielded cables are a good choice for most applications, as they are typically cheaper and easier to work with than shielded cables. A few situations when you need to use an unshielded cable include:

  • If the area around the cable is free of electromagnetic interference (EMI)
  • If the cable doesn’t need to be run over long distances
  • If the data being carried by the cable isn’t critical or sensitive
  • If budget is a concern and you can’t afford the extra cost of shielded cables

Need Wire & Cable Products for Your Project?

Your need for shielded and unshielded cables depends on the application. However, when it comes to wire and cable products, there’s only one distributor to partner with. Tevelec offers a wide range of high-quality shielded and unshielded cables for all your needs. Visit our website or contact us today to learn more about our products and how we can help you complete your project.

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