What are Electric Insulators and Their Common Uses?
To help mitigate the spread of electricity beyond a designated threshold within assemblies, apparatuses such as electrical insulators are commonly implemented. Often found in solid, liquid, and gaseous states, insulators have evolved over time to reduce faults, improve reliability, and reduce human harm resulting from electrical exposure. Within an environment where electricity needs to be meticulously controlled, such as those containing electrical wires, high voltage systems, microelectronics, and more, insulators and their lack of electrical conductivity help keep both humans and electrical apparatuses safe.
An insulator's ability to protect a system is determined by its resistive characteristics, often posing a hazard to the components they are meant to protect if lacking the ability to mitigate current flow. Additionally, insulators must have high resistive capabilities in order to sufficiently protect humans from electrical currents present within a system. Like all materials, there are a myriad of insulator types that best support components of a varying range. Depending on one’s needs, common types of insulators include wire insulators, pin insulators, strain insulators, post insulators, suspension insulators, shackle insulators, and more.
Regularly found along power lines and telephone poles, pin insulators are used to separate a wire from a pin that is directly connected to the pole itself. As a part of a family of overhead insulators, this component is unique in its own way due to its particular shape and functionality. With the pin being connected to the beam itself, the entire structure can become conductive and hazardous for those around it when a wire is connected without an insulator. Typically made out of porcelain or glass, pin insulators help in this situation by allowing a wire to wrap around, or be affixed to, the insulating component.
Unlike pin insulators, suspension insulators can withstand a load of 80 kN to 120 kN. Generally used for higher transmission applications, this insulator type utilizes insulator strings consisting of vertical discs that both improve flash voltage and allow flexibility to the upper line. Often constructed out of porcelain disks encased within aluminum or copper tubing known as a corona ring, these components are made to withstand high amounts of electricity without degradation. The attached corona rings also reduce the magnetic field closest to the power line, helping to reduce the possibility of power loss brought on by corona discharge. In addition, the individual attached disks can easily be removed and fixed if broken or faulty.
When narrowing down which insulator type is best fit for your use, you should look towards its purpose of application.It can be best to contemplate how you will be using your insulator before making a purchase, and common considerations include whether the insulator will be used for low voltage or high voltage operations, whether certain materials will be more beneficial over another, if the insulator will be placed indoors or outdoors, among other factors. Without the implementation of proper components, the risk of electrical shock brought on by faulty application, improper electrical output, electrical degradation, and more is a possibility.