Get To Know USE-2 and Other XLPE Cables

Kelly Benjamin
March 28, 2018

Cross-linked polyethylene cables are becoming more and more frequent across many wire and cable applications. Why? Because of its versatility.

In order to understand the different types of cross-linked polyethylene cable, otherwise known as XLPE cable, let’s first get to know what XLPE exactly is.

It’s a hydronic tubing that derives from polyethylene plastic. A three-dimensional (3D) molecular bond within the plastic helps define XLPE cable. This material provides many benefits as a wire protectant and insulator, including:

  • Hydrolysis resistance
  • Resistance to extreme abrasion
  • Toughness and tensile strength
  • Competitively priced
  • Fights against shrinkage
  • Chemical resistance

Due to those benefits, our USE-2, RHW-2, and RHH wires are perfect matches for XLPE insulation. So, what’s the difference between these three types of wires? The wire names are actually acronyms with very specific meanings.


R – This means the wire possesses a rubber insulation.

H – The wire can maintain performance up to 75 degrees Celsius.

W – This stands for moisture resistance.

2 – Flame resistant.

As a result, RHW-2 wire is useful in environments where it is susceptible to moisture, dampness, and other possible water encounters. These wires’ insulation also boast a flame retardant component – usually to adhere to building code regulations and such. 


R – Also stands for rubber insulation.

HH – Maintains performance up to 90 degrees Celsius.

So, while RHH wires do not play well with moisture, they can sustain at higher temperatures than RHW-2 wires.


U – Underground

S- Service

E- Entrance

2 – Flame resistant

If a cable is rated as USE or USE-2, that means it is approved as a direct burial cable, or an underground service entrance cable. RHW-2 and RHH wires are commonly USE-2 rated because of their properties and benefits.

USE-2 wires are often used in the photovoltaic industry because of its direct burial benefits, as well as its resistance to flame, heat, moisture and sunlight. The ability to be used both above and underground is extremely important, especially when dealing with photovoltaic applications that present high temperatures, UV radiation and sunlight exposure. The introduction of USE-2 wires will continue to grow as renewable green energy grows in importance.

It’s important to remember that while these bare copper electrical cables perform well, they wouldn’t have a chance without the XLPE cable insulation. The cross-linked polyethylene coating provides durability, strength, flexibility and protection to the wires.

Not sure which type of USE-2 wire is perfect for your next project? Contact Performance Wire and Cable today to speak to our professionals. We’ll gladly answer any question you may have!