Shielded VS Unshielded Cables

The cable manufacturing industries have been forced to keep up with the new modern world. Modern appliances and applications seek more than just a simple four-wire cable. The technological advancement in almost every sector necessitates high-quality cables that can easily connect the modern machine and appliances. This is because these cables are responsible for a wide range of applications that helps in keeping the world connected. This is due to the fact that the current connections heavily rely on either a shielded or unshielded cable.

shielded vs unshielded cable

What are Shielded and Unshielded Cables?

STP is a common abbreviation that is used to represent twisted cables that pose numerous wires wrapped together within a foil. The wires are doubled wrapped for better double protection.

However, the same does apply to the shielded twisted cable pairs. With UTP, each wire pair is twisted together. Once twisted, the wires are then placed within a tube with no additional coverage for protection. UTP cables are however cost-effective, which is the main reason why they are very common when compared to STP.

shielded and unshielded cable

Why Choose Shielded Cables?

Having a better understanding of which type of wire to apply in your projects is important. However, the selection process also depends on different factors, including the kind of protection required from the power frequency and any other electromagnetic interference.

How Does Shielded Cables Help in Preventing Electromagnetic Interference? 

EMI, or RFI, as it’s widely known, refers to an electronic disturbance that’s generated by different external electrical sources. This includes electromagnetic radiations and electrostatic coupling, among others. RFI or EMI is everywhere, and if it’s strong enough, it can easily cause interference with the real data traffic, resulting in poor communication between computers.

In such a situation, the data being transmitted will eventually get lost and the circuit has to resend another data. Multiple data resends eventually cause network interference that slows down the network. EMI and RFI disturbance, therefore, has the ability to lower the overall performance of a circuit which in turn lowers the optimal performance of the circuit by increasing the rates of errors which leads to data loss.

Shielded Cable Types

Shielded Cables

STP plays an important role when it comes to preventing RFI and EMI interference that arises from other electrical objects and appliances for effective and steady signals. The Shielded cables are normally divided into four wire pairs, with each pair being twisted so as to reduce the crosstalk interference from the other twisted wire pairs. STP cables exist in three different configurations. Each configuration also has its own protection level, as highlighted below.

  • Braided, which comes with an EMI shielding of 90%
  • The spiral which comes with an EMI shielding of 90%
  • Metal coated foil or Mylar, which comes with an EMI shielding of 100%

When Should You Apply a Shielded Cable?

STP cables offer better application, especially in environs that experience frequent electronic interferences. This includes airports and radio stations. Shielded cables are also applied within the security field, especially in security systems. Their shielded nature makes it possible for the cable to provide reliable protection against different disturbances. STP cables also enclose the noise within the cable thus preventing any possibility of interference to the external devices.

When Should You Apply Unshielded Cables?

unshield cable

Due to the unshielded nature of UTP, the cable can therefore not make use of the shielding capability to eliminate interference. The main function of these cables is to therefore aid in minimizing any kind of interference through their twisted nature. UTP is, therefore, not perfect in the application that involves office LANs. However, even with the cable’s limited protection capabilities, they still thrive in the market due to:

  • Affordability
  • Versatility
  • Flexibility
  • Easy installation

Some of the advantages that come with UTP cables are that the cables are susceptible to interference, including both electromagnetic and radio frequency interference.


Regardless of the kind of cable you choose to go for, the determining factor has to be the kind of application in place and its requirement. To better understand your cabling requirements, feel free to contact us. We will certainly do our best to help you with your project.

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