An RF coaxial cable is a reliable and strong cable, but consideration must be given when using it in a diversity of conditions to guarantee that it can tolerate them without excessive deterioration in efficiency and functionality.
As coaxial cables are frequently installed and maintained in position for prolonged periods of time, it is important to ensure that the RF cable environmental limitations are considered.
It is essential to fully understand the coax cable environmental aspects and then plan any installations consequently.
Coax cable environmental factors:
Numerous aspects affect coax cables to higher or lesser degrees.
The Impact of moisture on coaxial cables:
One of the significant problems with coax cable concerning the environment in which it works is moisture entry. Once it gets into the coax, it substantially degrades its functionality and effectiveness, making it unserviceable. It then demands to be substituted. Moisture ingress produces two main effects that give rise to an increase in attenuation or loss in the cable.
Increase in resistive loss:
The first is an increment in a resistive loss resulting from oxidation of the braid that gives origin to a boost in the resistance of the braid or external conductor in the coaxial cable.
Presence of moisture in the dielectric:
The following is an increment in the loss that comes in the dielectric. Water absorbed into the dielectric heats up when power is passed along the coax cable. This heat is an effect of power loss in the cable.
Water can enter the coaxial cable in several ways:
Moisture entry by coax cable termination:
The most evident way of moisture getting into a coax cable is through the termination. A great example is the small termination box provided with many TV antennas. When utilized externally, these termination enclosures offer limited protection against the elements, and the coax will quickly deteriorate.
Moisture entry through pinholes in coax cable jacket:
Many coax cables have some small holes in their jacket along their length. It is consequently very possible that moisture will penetrate through any imperfection in the coax cable jacket.
How sunlight affects coax cables:
Sunlight impacts many materials, including plastics, leading them to deteriorate, especially if they are continually exposed. The jackets or sheaths around the coaxial cable are no different. It is, in particular, the ultra-violet light that produces the degradation to the cables. To extend the life of coax cables, manufacturers utilize high molecular weight polythene. The standard polyvinylchloride jackets exhibit less than half the high molecular weight polythene life expectancy.
Corrosive vapors and coaxial cables:
Corrosive liquids and vapors lead to the deterioration of coaxial cables. Even city gases can be a problem.
Using tin or silver coatings can offer some additional protection, but this is not permanent. To overcome coaxial cable environmental problems in these conditions, it is advised to use especially environmentally resistant cables where extreme conditions are anticipated.
Coaxial cables among the most effective and reliable types of RF cable. They can be utilized in a diversity of different situations, but to guarantee the most extended operational life, it is critical to ensure that the environmental conditions to which they are exposed will not lead to any undue degradation in performance.
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