what is MC cable
Sep 26, 2023

What Is Copper MC Cable?

Copper MC cable gets its name from the aluminum wrapping on its jacket. ‘MC’ stands for “metal clad”, due to the cable being covered in a metallic coating.

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Where do you use metal clad cable?

The aluminum interlocked armor in MC cable helps it perform in a wide range of applications, including:

  • Both wet and dry locations per National Electric Codes (NEC).
  • Burial with conduit.
  • Concealed or exposed implementations.
  • Cable tray and approved raceway installation.
  • Branch, service distribution and feeder applications.
  • Power, control, lighting and signal circuits.
  • Places designed for assemblies of 100 or more people.
  • Fished or embedded in plaster and in cement.

MC Solid Copper Cable

What Are the Different Types of MC Cables?

We stock copper MC Cable in American Wire Gauge (AWG) sizes 14 through 2 with anywhere from two to four conductors and an additional ground wire.

The cable itself is made up of several thermoplastic, high-heat, nylon-jacketed (THHN) or thermoplastic, high-heat, water-resistant, nylon-jacketed (THWN-2) wires, including a green one used as a ground. These THHN/THWN-2 wires provide the insulation needed for some of the more demanding conditions in which you can use MC cable, including wet and hot environments. MC cable comprises several of these THHN wires bundled together with an all-aluminum metal-clad jacket.

We carry copper MC cables made of solid, stranded and bare copper to meet various application needs. Because the aluminum material makes up the outer jacket, there are no color-coding options available for this cable.

Our MC cables are rated for:

  • 600 volts.
  • 90℃ in dry locations.

Approvals and Specifications

Copper MC feeder cable meets United States military specifications (Mil-Spec) and has specifications and approval from many different organizations, including the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE):

  • NEC Codes
  • UL 1569
  • UL 1685
  • UL 83
  • Mil-Spec A-A59544
  • IEEE/FT4

When you buy copper MC cable from a trusted provider like WesBell Electronics, you ensure that you’re getting reliable cables that meet these specifications and can be used in their respective applications.

3 Ways to Use Copper MC Cable

With durability and solid performance in so many different conditions, it’s no surprise that MC cable finds itself in a wide range of applications. Here are some of the more common ways to use copper MC cable and an overview of how it compares to other cables often used in these applications.

1. Indoors Without Conduit

The metal-clad jacket on copper MC cable was designed to be used indoors as a cable that replaces NM-B cable in conduit. NM-B refers to a cable with nonmetallic sheathing, which is often made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and doesn’t provide nearly as much durability as a metal-clad cable. The aluminum armor on MC cables is approved by the NEC to be used indoors without conduit because the jacket protects it in the same way that conduit does. Romex® NM-B cable can still be used when conduit is not required because it’s cheaper than MC cable.

2. Outdoors Above Ground

NM-B cable uses a basic PVC jacket and has a bare copper ground wire — two factors preventing it from seeing outdoor use. Copper MC cable, on the other hand, has an insulated ground wire and a metal-clad jacket that allow it to withstand the elements in tough environmental conditions. The conductors inside the aluminum armor are THHN/THWN-2 rated, which means that they don’t even need the jacket to be used outdoors. If you want to save money on the cable, you can purchase 3 or 4 THHN wires and run them individually to get the same effect.

3. Outdoors Underground With Conduit

Again, with the use of THHN/THWN-2 wires inside MC cable, it can be used outdoors or in conduit underground. It cannot be directly buried in the ground without conduit because it will start to decay much earlier than expected. Remember, using MC cable in conduit is more expensive than running all separate THHN wires. You would be paying a premium to install one cable instead of 4 single wires which may or may not benefit your situation.

Of course, it can be difficult to determine if copper MC cable is the best one for your application. Fortunately, the experts at WesBell are great at parsing through the information you give us and helping you find the right solution. If you need any help picking out the best cable for your application, just give us a call. We’re happy to help!

Working With WesBell

The copper MC feeder cable from WesBell Electronics is available in many different sizes and configurations. As you can purchase it by the foot, you can easily order any odd length of our MC cable that you need. We supply MC cable connectors and many other wire and cable products. We can also save you time through a range of processing services, like cutting, stripping and twisting, so you can put your wire to work as soon as you get it.

Click the links above to view our copper MC cables, or reach out to us if you have any questions!

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