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Top 3 Things You Need to Know When Specifying your Cable Reel

Every electrical worker knows that cord reels are an essential tool to safely and conveniently store, pay out, and automatically rewind electrical cable. From mines, areas where airborne flammables can exist, static discharge grounding reels used for fuel handling, to simple light duty reels, retractable cord reels are available in many configurations for a broad range of applications. To ensure that you get the best reel and value for your application, follow the below three steps in properly selecting your next cable reels.

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1. Mechanical Requirements:

  • How will the reel be used? Stretch, lift, drag, or retrieve? See the illustration for more information on usage of your cable reel application.
  • What type of environment will the reel be located in? (Indoors, outdoors, hazardous environment)
  • What is the Duty-Cycle? How often will the reel payout and retract?
  • What is the maximum speed of the equipment? The maximum recommended speed is 150 feet per minute.

2. Electrical Requirements:

  • How much amperage is the cable expected to handle?
  • At what voltage?
  • What will the reel be required to handle: power, control or communication signals?
  • How many total conductors are required? Usage of one conductor for dedicated ground is ideal.
  • What gauge (AWG) cable is required? The amperage and total number of conductors required will determine the gauge.

3. Cable Length Requirements:

  • ADD: Active Length: The difference between the minimum operating payout.
  • PLUS: Inactive Length: Cable that always stays out of the reel, even at full retraction.
  • PLUS: Safety Wrap: Cable that stays on the reel at maximum payout.
  • PLUS: Sag Factor – (Stretch Only): Add 10% to Active and Inactive length total.
  • Lift Height – (Drag/Retrieve): The distance between where the cable lays up to the spool center line. Max 4’.
  • Hook-up Length: Cable required for termination at both ends – 2-3’ Spool Ends.

If you have questions regarding your requirements, email our applications engineering team for any questions at customerservice@ericson.com.

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Image courtesy of Conductix.


Written by: Dan Ericson

Dan Ericson is the Director of Sales for Ericson Manufacturing, a company that engineers and manufactures temporary power distribution and lighting solutions. He has spent 15+ years in the electrical industry and specializes in creating worksite efficiencies.

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