Coax Cable vs. Twinax Cable | Product Knockout

Product Knockout: Coax Cable vs. Twinax Cable

“Our Product Knock-Out series is a match-up between two similar products. In boxing terms, think same weight class, same caliber, same level of experience, and amount of exposure. The purpose of the Product Knock-Out posts are for you to see a side-by-side view of two similar products. These posts will also enable you to understand which one will be crowned champ for your specific purpose. Take your seats and prepare for battle, because the gloves are coming out.”

Coaxial and Twinaxial cable are similar in their applications but differ in terms of their construction. Both cables are used in data processing and information systems applications; specifically, cable TV and computer networks. This post will analyze the similarities and differences with both products as well as breaking down their construction and features.

What is Coaxial Cable?

Coaxial cable is used in the transmission of video, communications, and audio. These cables are designed to transmit high frequency signals and data with low loss due to environmental factors and interference. Allied has a wide variety of coaxial cable in stock that can vary in terms of its impedance, environmental temperature, working voltage, signal loss at specific frequencies, power rating, and cost. Coaxial cable’s construction may vary depending on the application that it is used for. Many conventional coax cables feature a copper wire and copper mesh shield to remain flexible while preventing any leakage of the signal.

Coax cable is available in military grade. These cables are referred to as RGs and are used in applications where military specifications are needed, as well as direct burial applications. Coaxial cables also meet M17 military specifications. Learn more about RG and M17 coaxial cable.

What is Twinaxial Cable?

Twinaxial cable is commonly used in data transmission and information systems applications. This cable uses two twisted conductors surrounded by a common shield. The two conductors offer more protection from environmental factors and lower cable loss. Twinax cable loses its effectiveness in long-range situations over 15 MHz. It is primarily used in short-range, high-speed signaling applications including those in the computer industry. Twinax cables also meet military M17 specifications.

Coaxial Cable vs. Twinaxial Cable

There are a lot of similarities between coaxial and twinaxial cable. Both are used in data transmission and information system applications, along with protection of the signal from interference. Coax and Twinax also both have military specs, which allows them to be used in applications requiring military standards. These cables are identified by RG or M17. The biggest difference between these two types of cables is their construction. Twinaxial cable features two conductors instead of one. This allows twinaxial cables to provide a more protected and clearer signal, but only in very short range and high speed applications. Coaxial cable is more versatile in its usage and it is able to carry low frequency signals such as audio. This makes it an ideal cable to use for radio frequency and cable transmission applications.

And the winner is….

Winner by unanimous vote? Instead, it seems as if the match has ended in a technical decision. In this case it looks like our crowned champ depends on your specific application use. If you’re unsure about what cable you’ll need in order to meet the needs of your application, let Allied help you out! Check out Allied Wire & Cable for more information on Coax and Twinax Cables or give your sales rep a call at 800-472-5655 with any questions.

Allied Encyclopedia: All About Dielectrics

Allied EncyclopediaA Dielectric is a form of insulation between two conductors that allows polarization of charges, also known as electrostatic attraction and repulsion. In coaxial cables, the dielectric is located between the center conductor and the outer conductor. For twisted pair cables, it is the insulation between the conductors as well as any air or other insulating medium that surrounds the conductors.

Here are some of the terms used when discussing dielectrics:

Dielectric Breakdown – This is when the dielectric is altered and becomes conductive. It usually happens when high voltage is applied and insulation fails.

Dielectric Constant – This term refers to the property which determines a dielectric material’s ability to store electrostatic energy when a certain voltage is applied. The dielectric constant is also called relative permittivity.

Dielectric Strength – Dielectric strength is the amount of voltage that the insulation can handle before degrading. This is a good quality because it reflects the durability of the dielectric.

Dielectric Loss – This is the power loss caused by friction in the dielectric. The friction is created by molecules moving in an alternating electric field. Power loss is generally an undesirable property.

Dielectric Absorption – Dielectric absorption is the build-up of electric charges when the dielectric comes in contact with an electric field. Because good dielectrics resist the flow of electrons, this is a troublesome property.

As a final note on dielectrics, let’s see how it stacks up to “insulation.”  Although the terms dielectric and insulation can be used interchangeably, insulation typically describes a material with low conductivity, whereas dielectric more specifically refers to insulating material with high polarization tendencies.

Dielectric properties can be an important element to consider when choosing cable. The characteristics discussed in these definitions can either make or break the success of an application. Make sure to take them into account when choosing the appropriate cable for your specific project needs.

Want to learn more about cable components? Watch the first video in our “Cable Basics 101” series, or visit our cable engineering resources to read articles about different cable components.

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