What makes electrical cables suitable for outdoor use?

Cables for external use have been designed to survive the adverse conditions in the outdoor environment. The outer layers of the cable must serve to protect the cable from external influences such as mechanical damage, water, extremes of temperatures, rodent or insect attack, UV exposure from sunlight, and ozone in the atmosphere.

There are a wide range of cables suitable for outdoor use provided they are protected from direct sunlight or other external influences. Protection can come from placing the cables in metal conduit, plastic ducting, or where directly buried, through steel wire armouring.

Unprotected outdoor cables must, as a minimum, be weather resistant, which includes protection against the typical ambient temperature range, UV light, ozone and water. There are several different methods and material types used for outdoor cables. Materials such as Ethylene propylene rubber (EPR), Polychloroprene (PCP) and Fluorocarbon naturally have a very good weathering resistance, whilst others such as PVC and Polyethylene can be made resistant with the addition of specific additives or stabilisers such as carbon black.

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