The Complete Guide to SWA Cable

Steel Wired Armoured (SWA), often referred to as ‘armoured cable’, is a highly durable type of electrical cable, used in power distribution. SWA is famous for its ability to withstand physical damage. This makes it a popular choice in a wide range of applications. Some of these include industrial settings and underground installations. Here we are going to give you, the complete guide to SWA cable. We will walk you through everything you need to know about armoured cable, including its construction, advantages, and recycling process.

What is Steel Wired Armoured Cable?

Steel Wired Armoured is a robust, hard-wearing cable. It provides mechanical protection. This enables it to withstand higher stresses, bury directly, and resist damage from external forces. Furthermore, it consists of multiple layers that contribute to its strength and durability.

Construction of SWA Cable:

  1. Conductor: Firstly, the core of the cable typically consists of copper. However, sometimes it can be aluminium. This carries the electrical current.
  2. Insulation: Each conductor has a layer of polymer insulation. For example, cross-linked polyethylene (XLPE) could provide electrical isolation.
  3. Bedding: The bedding is a layer of polymeric material that separates the inner insulation from the armouring. This adds another protective layer to the cable.
  4. Armouring: The armour is the defining feature of SWA cable. This consists of steel wire, which provides mechanical protection. This layer makes the cable resistant to impact and able to withstand harsh environments.
  5. Sheath: The sheath is the outer layer. They usually make it from PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride). This provides additional protection against moisture, chemicals and other environmental factors.

Types of SWA Cable:

There are various types of armoured cables, depending on their intended use.

  • Single-Core SWA Cable: This is for applications that need a single conductor. For example, certain industrial and commercial installations.
  • Multi-Core SWA Cable: This contains multiple conductors. Multi-core SWA is commonly used in residential and commercial buildings for power distribution.

Applications of Steel Wired Armoured Cable:

SWA cables serve numerous applications due to their high durability and protective features:

  • Power Distribution: Ideal for transmitting electrical power in both underground and overhead installations.
  • Industrial Settings: Factories and plants use SWA to provide a reliable power supply for machinery and heavy equipment.
  • Residential Use: Armoured cable is suitable for outdoor use. Such as connecting outbuildings, gardens and external lighting to the main electrical supply.
  • Construction Sites: Like factories and plants, construction sites have lots of heavy machinery around. Since SWA is a strong cable, it provides a safe and reliable power source for temporary and permanent installations.
  • Public Infrastructure: SWA is typically used in street lighting, traffic signals and other public utility installations.

Advantages of SWA Cable:

SWA cables offer several benefits that make them a preferred choice in many different applications:

  • Durability: The Steel Wire Armour provides exceptional mechanical protection against physical damage.
  • Versatility: SWA is suitable for a wide range of applications, both above ground and underground.
  • Resistance: High resistance to environmental factors such as moisture, chemicals and extreme temperatures.
  • Longevity: Armoured cable is designed to have a long service life, reducing the need for frequent replacements.

Recycling Process of SWA Cable:

Recycling SWA cable is an environmentally responsible practice that offer numerous economic benefits. Here is the recycling process we use for SWA cable at Event Sparks Cable Recycling:

  1. Collection: SWA cables are collected from different customers. These tend to be electricians who are part of our bin-go service.
  2. Sorting: We sort the cables based on their size (over or under 25mm). This step ensures that the next part of the process is efficient and effective.
  3. Shredding & Stripping: Smaller SWA cables are first put through our shredder. This cuts them down into smaller pieces, making it easier for our granulator to separate the materials. Next, larger cables are stripped using a stripper machine. This is because, using a stripper cuts through the outer sheath, so we can easily separate the steel and the copper.
  4. Granulating: For smaller SWA cables that have been shredded. They would then go through or granulator which separates the different materials and extracts the valuables (copper granules and steel).
  5. Recycling: After this, left is bright copper wire (from the large SWA), copper granules (from the small SWA) and steel. Finally, we sell this to larger companies who can use these materials to manufacture new products.

Benefits of Recycling SWA Cable:

Finally, we are going to talk about the benefits of recycling SWA cable. Recycling your waste SWA cables offers numerous benefits:

  • Environmental Protection: Recycling reduces the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. It also minimises the need for new raw materials, preserving natural resources.
  • Energy Savings: Producing new materials from recycled ones typically requires less energy compared to producing them from raw resources. This helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Economic Benefits: Recycling creates jobs and generates economic activity in the recycling and manufacturing industries.
  • Resource Conservation: By recycling the material in SWA cables, we conserve valuable resources like copper and aluminium which are finite and increasingly in demand.
  • Reduced Pollution: Recycling helps to reduce pollution caused by the extraction and processing of raw materials.


Steel-wired armoured cable is an essential component in many electrical installations, providing unmatched durability and protection. Whether you’re working on a residential, industrial or commercial installation, understanding the construction, applications and recycling process of SWA is crucial. By following this guide to SWA cable, you can ensure your electrical systems are safe, reliable and environmentally responsible.

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