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When browsing a selection of industrial electrical cables, one crucial consideration often arises: armoured or unarmoured? Both types serve specific purposes and are designed to meet different needs in various applications.

Understanding the differences between armoured and unarmoured cables is essential for selecting the right option for your project. This article delves into the distinctions between these two types of cables, exploring their construction, advantages, disadvantages, and common applications.

Construction and Features

1. Armoured Cables

Armoured cables are reinforced with a layer of metal or polymer armour, providing additional protection against physical damage, moisture, and environmental hazards. The armour typically consists of interlocking metal strips or a corrugated metal sheath encasing the inner cable components.

The armour serves as a robust outer layer, shielding the cable from mechanical stress, crushing, abrasion, and impact. It also enhances the cable’s resistance to rodent damage, chemicals, and UV radiation, making it suitable for harsh industrial environments and outdoor installations.

2. Unarmoured Cables

Unarmoured cables, as the name suggests, lack the additional protective armour found in armoured cables. Instead, they feature a simpler construction with insulated conductors enclosed in a single jacket or sheath made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride), PE (polyethylene), or other suitable materials.

While unarmoured cables offer cost-effective solutions for many applications, they are more vulnerable to physical damage and environmental hazards compared to armoured cables. They may be suitable for indoor installations or protected environments where the risk of damage is minimal.

Advantages and Disadvantages

1. Armoured Cables


  • Enhanced Protection: The metal or polymer armour provides superior protection against mechanical damage, moisture, and external hazards, ensuring the longevity and reliability of the cable.
  • Durability: Armoured cables are built to withstand harsh conditions, including exposure to chemicals, oils, and extreme temperatures, making them ideal for industrial and outdoor applications.
  • Rodent Resistance: The armoured construction deters rodents and pests from chewing or damaging the cable, reducing the risk of downtime and maintenance costs.
  • Suitable for Burial: Armoured cables can be buried directly in the ground or installed in conduits, trenches, or cable trays, offering versatility in outdoor and underground installations.


  • Cost: Armoured cables tend to be more expensive than unarmoured cables due to the additional materials and manufacturing processes involved.
  • Weight and Bulkiness: The metal armour adds weight and bulk to the cable, making it more challenging to handle and install, especially in tight spaces or overhead applications.

2. Unarmoured Cables


  • Cost-Effective: Unarmoured cables are generally more affordable than armoured cables, making them a cost-effective choice for budget-conscious projects.
  • Flexibility: The absence of armour makes unarmoured cables lighter and more flexible, allowing for easier handling and installation in various applications.
  • Space-Saving: Unarmoured cables are typically smaller in diameter and require less space, making them suitable for installations where space is limited or where conduit size restrictions apply.


  • Limited Protection: Unarmoured cables offer minimal protection against physical damage, moisture, and environmental factors, limiting their suitability for outdoor or harsh industrial environments.
  • Vulnerability to Damage: Without armour, unarmoured cables are more susceptible to damage from abrasion, crushing, impact, and rodent attacks, requiring careful handling and placement.
  • Shorter Lifespan: Unarmoured cables may have a shorter lifespan compared to armoured cables, especially in demanding applications where protection is critical.

Common Applications

1. Armoured Cables

  • Industrial Facilities: Armoured cables are widely used in industrial settings, including manufacturing plants, refineries, and chemical processing facilities, where they provide robust protection against mechanical damage, chemicals, and environmental hazards.
  • Outdoor Installations: Armoured cables are suitable for outdoor applications, such as overhead lines, underground conduits, and outdoor lighting, where they can withstand exposure to weather, moisture, and UV radiation.
  • Utilities and Infrastructure: Armoured cables are used in utility grids, power distribution networks, and infrastructure projects, where reliability, durability, and protection are paramount.

2. Unarmoured Cables

  • Residential and Commercial Buildings: Unarmoured cables are commonly used for electrical wiring in residential and commercial buildings, where they are installed in walls, ceilings, and floors to supply power to outlets, switches, and lighting fixtures.
  • Interior Wiring: Unarmoured cables are suitable for indoor applications, such as office buildings, schools, and hospitals, where they are installed in conduits, cable trays, or raceways to distribute power and signals.
  • Low-Risk Environments: Unarmoured cables may be used in low-risk environments where the risk of physical damage, moisture, or environmental hazards is minimal, such as offices, retail stores, and residential homes.


The choice between armoured and unarmoured cables depends on various factors, including the application requirements, environmental conditions, and budget constraints. Armoured cables offer superior protection and durability, making them suitable for demanding industrial and outdoor applications. On the other hand, unarmoured cables provide cost-effective solutions for indoor installations and low-risk environments where protection requirements are minimal. By understanding the differences and considering the specific needs of each project, engineers, contractors, and electricians can select the most appropriate cable type to ensure reliable performance and safety.

At Cable Source, we offer a range of armoured and unarmoured cables for your selection. Browse our tinned marine wire, offshore power cable, flame retardant cable, and instrumentation cable catalogue and choose what best suits your needs.