How can contractors be sure that the electrical cables they use conform to standards and are up to the task?
Electrical cables can be discovered in many aspects of modern life. If we didn’t have them, nothing would work! All electrical items from a mobile phone to a battery-powered car requires a cable to charge. Life as we live today would be very difficult without them. Despite this, we seldom think about electrical cables. Cables are often hiding away from sight – under flooring, behind walls or in the ceiling void. In many commercial buildings, there is just as much data cable as there is cable supplying the power. Miles and Miles of cable all switching on and off central heating systems, air conditioning units, security systems and powering all of our day to day appliances. Usually, we never give this a second thought. What if these cables were not manufactured properly in accordance with British, European or International Standards? How dangerous would that be?
Due to the demise of the British cable industry, a huge amount of the UK’s cabling is manufactured abroad. As long as the cable conforms to the relevant standards, there is nothing wrong with this. Despite this, the policing of products entering the UK is not satisfactory and as a result has led to faulty, sub-standard and counterfeit cables regularly being detected and used in the UK. For example, faulty flexible cords with high conductor resistance sold through DIT outlets; defective steel wire armoured cables with undersized armour wire, reducing its resistance to rusting are just some examples of substandard cables found recently, manufactured in China, India, Turkey and in some instances in other parts of Europe. Unfortunately, many of these faults are not immediately apparent and it may be many years before the problem is uncovered. In the more extreme cases, some manufacturers intentionally cut costs by reducing the copper content or even using alternatives to fill copper conductors, such as copper coated aluminium. In this case, the cable may overheat and the risk of fire increases significantly.
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