16th Edition (reference only) – NOW superseded by the 17th Edition IEE Regulations.

chapter 5

chapter 6

Cables, conduits and trunking
  4.1 - Cable insulation materials 4.4 - Cable supports, joints and terminations
  4.2 - Cables 4.5 - Cable enclosures
  4.3 - Cable choice 4.6 - Conductor and cable identification
4.3.1 - Cable types


4.3.1 - Cable types

When choosing a cable one of the most important factors is the temperature attained by its insulation (see {4.1.1}); if the temperature is allowed to exceed the upper design value, premature failure is likely. In addition, corrosion of the sheaths or enclosures may result. For example, bare conductors such as busbars may be operated at much higher temperatures than most insulated conductors.

However, when an insulated conductor is connected to such a high temperature system, its own insulation may be affected by heat transmitted from the busbar, usually by conduction and by radiation. To ensure that the insulation is not damaged:

either the operating temperature of the busbar must not exceed the safe temperature for the insulation,

or the conductor insulation must be removed for a suitable distance from the connection with the busbar and replaced with beat resistant insulation (see {Fig 4.7}).

It is common sense that the cable chosen should be suitable for its purpose and for the surroundings in which it will operate. It should not be handled and installed in unsuitable temperatures. P.V.C. becomes hard and brittle at low temperatures, and if a cable insulated with it is installed at temperatures below 5°C it may well become damaged.

[522] includes a series of Regulations which are intended to ensure that suitable cables are chosen to prevent damage from temperature levels, moisture, dust and dirt, pollution, vibration, mechanical stress, plant growths, animals, sunlight or the kind of building in which they are installed. As already mentioned in {3.5.2}, cables must not produce, spread, or sustain fire.

[527-01] contains six regulations which are intended to reduce the risk of the spread of fire and are concerned with choosing cables with a low likelihood of flame propagation (see BS 4066, BS 476, BS EN 50085 and BS EN 50086). A run of bunched cables is a special fire risk and cables in such a situation should comply with the standards stated above.

Fig 4.7 Insulation of a cable connected to hot busbar

BS 6387 covers cables which must be able to continue to operate in a fire. These special cables are intended to be used when it is required to maintain circuit integrity for longer than is possible with normal cables. Such cables are categorised with three letters. The first indicates the resistance to fire alone (A,B,C and S) and the second letter is a W and indicates that the cable will survive for a time at 650°C when also subject to water (which may be used to tackle the fire). The third letter (X, Y or Z) indicates the resistance to fire with mechanical shock. For full details of these special cables see the BS.


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Extracted from The Electricians Guide Fifth Edition
by John Whitfield

Published by EPA Press Click Here to order your Copy.

Click here for list of abbreviations