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An insulator, also called a dielectric, is a material that resists the

flow of electric current. An insulating material has atoms with tightly
bonded valence electrons. These materials are used in parts of
electrical equipment, also called insulators or insulation, intended to
support or separate electrical conductors without passing current
through themselves. The term is often used more specifically to
refer to insulating supports that attach electric power transmission
wires to utility poles or pylons.
Some materials such as glass or Teflon are very good electrical
insulators. A much larger class of materials, for example rubber-like
polymers and most plastics are still "good enough" to insulate
electrical wiring and cables even though they may have lower bulk
resistivity. These materials can serve as practical and safe
insulators for low to moderate voltages (hundreds, or even
thousands, of volts).

Insulators are used for high-voltage power transmission
are made from glass, porcelain, or composite polymer
materials. Porcelain insulators are made from clay,
quartz or alumina and feldspar, and are covered with a
smooth glaze to shed dirt. Insulators made from
porcelain rich in alumina are used where high
mechanical strength is a criterion.
Porcelain has a dielectric strength of about 4-10 kV/mm.
Glass has a higher dielectric strength, but it attracts
condensation and the thick irregular shapes needed for
insulators are difficult to cast without internal strains.
Some insulator manufacturers stopped making glass
insulators in the late 1960s, switching to ceramic

Recently, some electric utilities have begun
converting to polymer composite materials for
some types of insulators. These are typically
composed of a central rod made of fibre
reinforced plastic and an outer weathershed
made of silicone rubber or EPDM.
Composite insulators are less costly, lighter in
weight, and have excellent hydrophobic
capability. This combination makes them ideal
for service in polluted areas. However, these
materials do not yet have the long-term proven
service life of glass and porcelain.



Cap and pin insulator string (the vertical string of discs) on a 275 kV
suspension pylon. The electrical breakdown of an insulator due to
excessive voltage can occur in one of two ways:Puncture voltage is
the voltage across the insulator(when installed in its normal manner)
which causes a breakdown and conduction through the interior of
the insulator. The heat resulting from the puncture arc usually
damages the insulator irreparably.
Flashover voltage is the voltage which causes the air around or
along the surface of the insulator to break down and conduct,
causing a 'flashover' arc along the outside of the insulator. They are
usually designed to withstand this without damage. High voltage
insulators are designed with a lower flashover voltage than puncture
voltage, so they will flashover before they puncture, to avoid


Dirt, pollution, salt, and particularly water on the surface of a high

voltage insulator can create a conductive path across it, causing
leakage currents and flashovers. The flashover voltage can be more
than 50% lower when the insulator is wet. High voltage insulators for
outdoor use are shaped to maximise the length of the leakage path
along the surface from one end to the other, called the creepage
length, to minimize these leakage currents.
To accomplish this the surface is molded into a series of
corrugations or concentric disk shapes. These usually include one
or more sheds; downward facing cup-shaped surfaces that act as
umbrellas to ensure that the part of the surface leakage path under
the 'cup' stays dry in wet weather. Minimum creepage distances are
20-25 mm/kV, but must be increased in high pollution or airborne
sea-salt areas.

A cable is one or more strands bound
together. Electrical cables may contain
one or more metal conductors, which may
be individually insulated or covered. An
optical cable contains one or more optical
fibers in a protective jacket that supports
the fibers. Mechanical cables such as wire
rope may contain a large number of metal
or fiber strands.

Electrical cables may be made flexible by stranding the
wires. The technical issue is to reduce the skin effect
voltage drop while using with alternating currents.In this
process, smaller individual wires are twisted or braided
together to produce larger wires that are more flexible
than solid wires of similar size. Bunching small wires
before concentric stranding adds the most flexibility.
A thin coat of a specific material (usually tin-which
improved striping of rubber, or for low friction of moving
conductors, but it could be silver, gold and another
materials and of course the wire can be bare - with no
coating material) on the individual wires. Tight lays
during stranding makes the cable extensible (CBA - as in
telephone handset cords).

Bundling the conductors and eliminating multi-layers
ensures a uniform bend radius across each conductor.
Pulling and compressing forces balance one another
around the high-tensile center cord that provides the
necessary inner stability. As a result the cable core
remains stable even under maximum bending stress.
Cables can be securely fastened and organized, such as
using cable trees with the aid of cable ties or cable
lacing. Continuous-flex or flexible cables used in moving
applications within cable carriers can be secured using
strain relief devices or cable ties. Copper corrodes easily
and so should be layered with Lacquer.