Electrical Cables and Electromagnetic Fields: What You Should Know

Electrical cables are used to power everything from homes and commercial buildings to computers and portable devices. Consisting of multiple conductors wrapped in insulation and a jacket, they are designed to carry electricity. Electricity can travel through the conductors to power the system or device to which the electrical cable is connected. As a byproduct of their electricity-carrying properties, however, electrical cables generate an electromagnetic field.

Why Electrical Cables Generate an Electromagnetic Field

All electrical cables generate an electromagnetic field during use. To power a connected system or device, they carry an electric current. Electric currents are essentially charged particles. When these charged particles move, they will produce a magnetic field. Magnetic fields involving the use of moving charged particles are known as electromagnetic fields.

How Electrical Cables Generate an Electromagnetic Field

Whenever charged particles move, they will produce a magnetic field known as an electromagnetic field. The strength of this electromagnetic field can vary depending on various factors. Nonetheless, as long as the charged particles are moving through the conductors, the electrical cable will generate an electromagnetic field.

The Impact of Electromagnetic Fields

Electromagnetic fields can affect nearby devices. When generated by an electrical cable, it will spread to nearby devices. Some of the devices may pick up the electromagnetic field, resulting in a phenomenon known as noise.

Electromagnetic fields are commonly used in electrical applications, including power transmission, motors and generators. But they can also cause interference with nearby equipment.

In addition to noise, electromagnetic fields can cause signal loss. Signal loss is exactly what it sounds like: the loss of a cable’s signal. Rather than receiving a strong signal, the connected device may receive a weak signal due to the electromagnetic field.

Solutions to Deal With Electromagnetic Fields

There are several solutions available to deal with electromagnetic fields produced by electrical cables. First, some electrical cables are designed with shielding. Shielding consists of a layer that’s designed to block the electromagnetic field.

Using a shorter length can minimize problems associated with electromagnetic fields.  The pick and transmission of an electrical cable are proportional. By using a short length for electrical cables, electromagnetic interference is less likely to occur. With that said, the strength of the electromagnetic field is greater in short cables than long cables.

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