How to use armoured cable for wiring

Written by max stout
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Armoured cable, better known as BX, is a flexible, metallic-jacketed indoor service cable. BX cable is installed in dry, indoor locations only, and is manufactured with either galvanised steel or aluminium armour. Non-metallic sheathed cable has replaced BX as the most common type of home wiring, however BX remains in use in many applications where extra protection of electrical conductors is needed. Armoured cable can be installed by those with basic electric knowledge and a few tools.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Measuring tape
  • Metal-cutting shears
  • Anti-short bushing
  • Hacksaw and locking pliers
  • BX connector
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Flat-tip screwdriver
  • Slip-joint pliers
  • Wire stripping pliers

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  1. 1

    Determine the length of armoured cable (BX) required, using a measuring tape. Add 10 to 12 inches to the required length for stripping purposes.

  2. 2

    Grip the cable with both hands at a point at least 7 inches from the end of the measured length and bend the BX, twisting it in opposite directions. This raises a portion of the spiral armour sheathing.

  3. 3

    Cut the raised loop diagonally with the metal-cutting shears. Slide the severed section of sheathing off the insulated conductors.

  4. 4

    Install the plastic anti-short bushing over the wires and into the end of the armoured sheathing. The bushing protects the wire insulation from the jagged metal edge of the armour.

  5. 5

    Pull the protective paper from around the insulated wires. Bend the exposed bonding strip back over the sheathing.

  6. 6

    Install a BX connector over the armoured cable. Be sure the connector is fully seated against the anti-short bushing and the bonding strip is secured beneath it. Tighten the connector setscrew with the appropriate tip screwdriver.

  7. 7

    Insert the BX connector into the open slot of a metallic electrical box and attach the connector retaining nut. Tighten the nut with slip-joint pliers.

  8. 8

    Strip 1/2-inch from the ends of the two electrical wires with wire stripping pliers.

  9. 9

    Connect the wires from the BX to the terminals of the electrical device to be used.

Tips and warnings

  • If an electrical plug-in outlet is used, connect the white wire to the silver terminal and the black wire to the brass terminal. A separate ground pigtail wire connects from the green post on the outlet directly to the metal box.
  • If the BX is connected to a switch, wrap several turns of black electrical tape around the white wire to identify it as a hot wire. Connect a pigtail ground wire from the green post on the switch to the metal box.
  • Gloves with good gripping ability work well when twisting armoured cable.
  • Armoured cable is used with metal boxes only.
  • Never use armoured cables for outside applications or damp indoor environments.
  • Do not rely on the metal mounting brackets of an outlet or a switch to provide a suitable ground connection. Always wire a pigtail ground wire from the device to the metal box.
  • Always work safely with electricity.

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