There are different types of diagnostic tests you can conduct on copper wire cables to ensure the cable quality and functionality is as purported by the manufacturer and is holding up during application in the field.
There are three critical times to test your cables:
Installation - It is important to test cables upon installation. You want to ensure they are working, without damage during transit, prior to installation. Additionally, if there is a contract involved, you should consider having the cables certified to ensure they are designed and are performing as ordered.
Acceptance determination - Acceptance testing is a compatibility test to see if the cables seamlessly interact with the software and other elements of the planned application.
Maintenance - Maintenance is carried out periodically to see if the integrity of the cables have been compromised after a set period of time or following peak load times.
There are several key test types that are used, depending on what exactly is being evaluated.
- Continuity test allows you to see if the wire connection inside the cabling is solid.
- A multimeter is used in continuity tests. Multimeters measure the voltage, current, and resistance of a circuit.
- Resistance test allows you to measure the voltage and current resistance inside a cable. You can then compare that calculation to the expected cable performance to reveal how well the cable is performing.
- Ohmmeters measure resistance in copper cabling. Ohmmeters pass a small current through the cable and measure the voltage drop. The resistance is then found through Ohms equation.
- Isolation tests use low voltage power to allow you to see how well isolated the wires within the cable are.
- Isolation tests are typically conducted with a megohmmeter, or megger. The megger measures current leakage with a low voltage.
- Shorts tests use high voltage power to allow you to find near shorts within the cables. This is not revealed when low voltage is used
- Hipot, aka “voltage withstand test” or Dielectric Voltage-Withstand test, is used in finding shorts or near shorts in the copper wiring.
Whatever type of test is being conducted, it is imperative that the person carrying out the test is fully qualified. Electricity is a workplace hazard that can result in serious injury or death. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has a number of training publications and regulations to follow that can be accessed on their website.
For assistance with cable testing or with custom cable or connector projects, reach out to us! We have been designing and engineering cable assemblies for 50 years and specialize in custom and End of Life (EOL) projects.