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FAQ: What is capacitance?

Two conductors which are separated by a distance can store an electric charge between them. A cable or harness with two or more wires can also store a charge and this can affect the way the cable performs. Capacitance describes the ability of two conductors, separated by an insulating material, to store charge.

Capacitance in cables is usually measured in pf/m (pico farads per meter) or pf/ ft (pico farads per foot). The lower the capacitance the better the cable performance.

Capacitance is a particular problem with data or signal cables. When a voltage signal is transmitted through a twisted pair or coaxial type cable, a charge builds up across the insulation between the conductors. The charge that builds up in the cable over a period of time is due to the inherent capacitance this results in a delay causing interference in the signal transmission. Digital data pulses which are square in shape are transformed to form a shape similar to “saw teeth” due to the ramp up and discharge, this may result in the circuitry failing to recognise the digital pulses.

There are a number of ways to reduce the capacitance in cable design including:

- Increase the insulation thickness

- Decrease the conductor diameter

- Use an insulation with a lower dielectric constant

Usually a combination of all three is used as either method has its limitations.

Having a metallic shield over the cable introduces a further capacitance, that of core to shield, which can significantly increase the overall capacitance of the cable.

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The Cable Lab®

UKAS-accredited specialist cable testing laboratory

About Eland Cables

The Cable Lab® our in-house cable testing facility, is UKAS-accredited to ISO 17025, which is the single most important standard for calibration and testing laboratories around the world. Accreditation to this international standard demonstrates our laboratory's technical competence and the accuracy of its results.

For our customers, it means peace of mind. They can have full confidence in the quality of our products and can demonstrate due diligence in selecting their cable supplier.

Our customers can also rely on the Cable Lab's services for an independent, objective and comprehensive quality assessment of cables procured from third parties.


About Eland Cables

About Eland Cables

Established in 1975, Eland Cables is a supplier of power, data, instrumentation and control cables and cable accessories to the world's most demanding industries and to some of its most prestigious projects. Our reputation is built on an unswerving focus on quality, technical expertise and customer service.


Our focus on quality has resulted in our in-house specialist cable testing facility securing the ISO 17025 accreditation. This certifies the competence, impartiality and performance capability of our laboratory and its evaluations. In turn, it means peace of mind for our customers with regard to the quality of the cables they source from us.

Expert tecHnical support

Our highly-qualified technical team is on hand to provide technical support with all aspects of cable selection, technical specification, regulatory requirements, and bespoke cable design and manufacture.

Complete Cable Solutions

We are a key contributor to projects in over 100 countries every year, adding value through comprehensive technical support, reliable logistics, innovative solutions, and a customer-centric approach.