A guide to cable twist ties
4.5 minutes | 06 Dec 2019
In other guides and articles, we discussed components used for cable management. These included cable mounting clips, adjustable cable clamps, and wire tie mounts. In this article, we're going to look at another option: cable management twist ties.
These are the nylon twist lock cable ties used to route cabling in electronic enclosures, many NEMA electrical enclosures, and panel boards. They are an additional means of neatly securing various types of cabling and conductors for a professional, clean design and installation.
There are both pros and cons to using twist ties, depending for the most part on your particular application. For example, if you need precise control over the layout of the cabling, certain types of cable clamps and cable tie mounts might be more efficient. Some cable clamps are specifically designed for securing flat cables, something for which cable twist ties are not suitable.
However, flexible twist cable ties are often easier to use than solutions employing nylon cable ties and tie mounts. They allow cables and conductors to be added as necessary, both during and after cable installation.
Once installed, using twist ties for cable management makes laying in the cable much quicker than other twist tie alternative methods, such as zip or cable ties. Additionally, since they are easily reopened and closed, flexible twist cable ties allow you to make quick changes to the layout design if necessary. With a cable or zip tie, you'll need to cut off the old tie and install a new one if cabling changes are necessary.
Pictured here is a free-standing ball end twist tie. These are used to secure cables together to form an unsupported bundle. This is extremely useful when cabling runs from the inside electrical cable enclosures to the back of the enclosure door or lid. When there is no surface to attach a cable clamp or cable tie mount, free-standing twist ties keep the bundle neat.
Because a section of the cable bundle will be "free air," these types of cable management twist ties can be used to keep stray cables from being caught in the hinged section of the enclosure. Pinching can lead to broken unwanted conductors – or even electrical shock exposure when voltage is present – so keeping free air cables securely bundled is critical.
Additionally, in a large junction box, the free-standing ball end twist tie can help segregate bundles for function or circuit. For example, if several circuits are run through a cable junction box, twist ties keep each circuit's conductors together, valuable for tracking and troubleshooting as the need arises.
However, there are times when a secure, sturdy twist tail cable tie mounting bond is necessary, either to the panelboard or to the enclosure lid. In that case, you have attachment options very similar to those used for cable tie mounts and cable clamps.
The adhesive mount pictured here has a standoff as well. This allows one cable bundle to easily pass over or under another bundle at a different level. This might be necessary when running bundles perpendicular to each other. It also allows a bundle to pass over other obstruction on the panel board or in the enclosure.
For a quick, yet reliable mount on smooth surfaces, consider using an adhesive back twist tie mount. The construction of the base also allows for attachment to slightly uneven or slightly curved surfaces.
Similar in function to the adhesive mount version is the square mount twist lock standoff. These cable twist ties are used when mounting holes are present on the panel board. They snap quickly into place on the panel. Then the cables are inserted through the opening in the twist tie and the ends of the tie are twisted shut.
Another push in possibility is the fir tree mount, so called because of their close resemblance to that type of tree.
There are also twist ties for cable management that accept cables from angles other than the top. For example, the one shown here allows cables to be inserted at a 45-degree angle, making them an excellent choice when direct, overhead access to the twist tie is blocked by equipment components or enclosure overhangs. A similar option permits you to insert the cable from the side when necessary.
If the panelboard is not perforated or predrilled, you can attach some mounts quickly using self-tapping screws, or drill holes to accept machine thread screws. Some can be clamped around the cable, then mounted to the panel using the mounting hole.
One particularly intriguing type of reusable quick twist cable ties allows you to clamp the wire in the twist tie, which is already attached to the board, then you can swivel the tie into a vertical position, locking it into place. This can be useful if the cable enters the enclosure or cabinet from the side or back. Once clamped, the cable can then be routed downward or across the panel.
An internal webbing keeps small diameter bundles or even single cables firmly in place with a full-size twist tie.
For a fast, simple cable installation, reusable quick twist cable ties are definitely an option to use instead of other cable management methods, particularly if easy cable configurations could be necessary.
Here’s a quick guide to several popular twist tie options and when you might want to consider them.
|When you need:||Use this twist tie:|
|Quick installation to a smooth or slightly uneven surface or curve||Flexible adhesive-backed mount twist tie. Order to fit the maximum bundle.|
|Cable entry at a 45-degree angle, mounted to the panelboard via predrilled holes||Twist Ties - Snap Mount,45|
|To route a cable bundle over or under another cable bundle or obstacle||Twist Ties - Adhesive Mount, Standoff|
|Cable bundle management when routing across open areas or moving parts like enclosure doors||Twist Ties - Free-Standing, Hole Ends|
Though not suited for every type of cable management scenario, plastic or nylon twist lock cable ties may be an affordable and cost-effective means of routing, bundling, and installing various types of cables and conductors.
They can be used in various applications such as:
- Automotive cable harnesses
- Aeronautic wiring
- Datacom cabinet and racks
- Electronic and electrical component enclosures
You can see our complete line of twist ties for cable management here.
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