The best wire for e-bikes: Irradiated crosslinked PVC
The reliability of e-bikes can be improved by using high quality wiring. Therefore, on my solar powered bicycle, the Maxun One, I only use AlphaWire EcoWire cables. For power cables, I use 16AWG 26/30, for control wires 18AWG 16/30.
Benefits of crosslinked PVC hook-up wire
Crosslinked PVC wire is solder iron resistant:
Regular PVC insulation melts during soldering:
Crosslinked PVC withstand high temperatures:
Crosslinked PVC wire, and in particular irradiated cross linked wire (IRRPVC), is quite unknown; therefore I want to draw attention to its benefits:
- Crosslinked PVC wire is solder iron resistant.
Regular PVC insulation melts easily during soldering and pulls back in contrast to crosslinked PVC wire.
- Crosslinked PVC wire is mechanically stronger and tougher.
Regular PVC insulation is soft and quite vulnerable to damage in contrast to crosslinked PVC wire which has a greater abrasion and cut-through resistance.
- Crosslinked PVC insulation can be thinner.
Due to the strength, the insulation of crosslinked PVC can be thin; this saves weight and looks better too.
- Crosslinked PVC withstand higher temperatures.
However, this should not be the only reason to use crosslinked PVC.
Applications of crosslinked PVC wire
An application is a hub motor cable; the insulation has to be extremely thin because the cable goes through a small hole.
Improve mechanical properties by cross-linking
Regular plastics for insulation are made up of random molecular chains that have no chemical bonds between them; if heat is applied, the molecular chains will be weakened. The mechanical properties can be greatly improved by cross-linking, which will bond adjacent molecular chains together. Cross-linking can be accomplished not only by electron beam irradiation but chemically also.
Disadvantages of crosslinked PVC wire
- Most available crosslinked PVC hook-up wire is fabricated according military specifications (UL 1429, UL 1430, UL 1431), and this have to be paid with a high price.
- It is just available from a few suppliers and sometimes the minimum order size is a problem.
Other crosslinked insulation materials
Other insulation materials with similar or better properties than crosslinked PVC are:
- Crosslinked polyolefin
- Crosslinked polyethylene
- Crosslinked polyalkene
- Crosslinked ETFE
EcoWire™ as alternative for crosslinked PVC wire
EcoWire™ is cheaper as cross linked PVC wire, but has similar properties.