Waterproof cables and connection systems

Buehne Halogenfrei

Water and electricity are not a good combination. Therefore, water-resistant connection systems should be used in wet environments.

What is a water-resistant, what is a waterproof connection system?

The answer seems simple at first: a cable that maintains its full functionality for a long time, even underwater. Such extreme applications are rare, however. It is very common for cables to be dry, but to become wet from time to time, for example, because coolant leaks from a machine or because the equipment in the food industry has to be regularly blasted with hot steam. Wherever cables can become wet, water-resistant cables are therefore necessary. Water-resistant means that the plastic of the jacket does not dissolve over time. Some plastics have this property by nature, but not all. If water cannot penetrate the plastic and cannot reach the wires, the cable is called a cross-waterproof cable. Particularly water-resistant cables for outdoor installation are also longitudinally watertight. If water penetrates into the cable end at the connector, it cannot spread along with the cores; a jelly-like filling of water-repellent petrolatum prevents this.

However, a water-resistant cable alone is not enough. The neuralgic point of a cable is where it is interrupted: at the connector. Under no circumstances must water penetrate between the plug and the socket and moisten the contacts, as this can lead to a dangerous short circuit. The transition where the cable runs into the plug connector must also be sealed. In companies in the food industry, where control cabinets are also cleaned with chemicals and steam, the openings in the control cabinets must also be sealed with cable glands.

The IP protection class has established itself as a means of assessing how tight an object is. "IP" stands for "International Protection“. The protection class is indicated by two digits. The first digit indicates whether foreign bodies can penetrate. "6" means "dust-tight" and is the highest protection class for foreign bodies. More interesting here is the second digit, which indicates how waterproof a housing is. Here the protection classes range from "1" (protection against dripping water) to "8" (protection against permanent immersion) and even "9" (protection against water during high-pressure/steam jet cleaning). The highest protection class is IP69K, whereby "K" requires special protection for road vehicles.

Where are water-resistant connection systems used?

Water-resistant connection solutions are required where cables can become wet. This is the case in the industry where cables and connectors come into contact with cooling lubricant, and especially in food production, where equipment must be regularly cleaned and disinfected with steam and water jets. In outdoor applications, watertight connections should be standard, for example on photovoltaic systems, antennas, equipment in the chemical and building materials industry, and many more. Even if cables are under a roof, you should use waterproof components, because it can always rain in and condensing humidity can collect and penetrate into leaking gaps. Particularly harsh conditions prevail on the high seas. On ships, oil rigs, or in port facilities, watertight connection solutions are mandatory. Because of the severe corrosion in salt water, preferably IP69K versions are used, which often requires a metal version of connectors, for example, made of stainless steel or other corrosion-resistant materials such as zinc die-cast.

What water-resistant/waterproof components are available from LAPP?

As the world market leader for integrated connectivity solutions, we offer a broad portfolio of water-resistant/waterproof cables. The ÖLFLEX® HEAT 125 MC is suitable for a wide temperature range from -55°C to +125°C. It has been approved by Germanischer Lloyd for use in shipping and can withstand both fresh water and salt water. Some rectangular plug housings of the EPIC® series such as EPIC® ULTRA H-B 6 are watertight. They have been tested with the salt spray test according to IEC 68-2-52 severity level 2. A whole range of cable glands are also watertight, for example, the pressurized watertight SKINDICHT® SHV-M. It meets the IP68 protection class up to 10 bar, which corresponds to a water depth of 100 meters. The HITRONIC® HUW1500 data cable is extremely robust and is available in various designs. It is transversely and longitudinally watertight and, with its rodent protection, is suitable for laying in the ground.

ÖLFLEX® SOLAR XLWP is an electron-beam cross-linked solar cable that meets the highest demands on operating conditions and standards (according to EN 50618). Thanks to its optimized, unique LAPP cable design, ÖLFLEX® SOLAR XLWP has a high degree of AD8 transverse water tightness even after long periods in water.

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