If you look at a spec sheet, you will see information on various type of data on cable characteristics. Flame-retardant. Excellent UV resistance. Poor flexibility. The spec sheet gives you all of this information, but have you ever wondered how we get that data? Products go through rigorous cable testing to determine what properties they have and to what extent those properties hold up.
The Most Common Cable Tests
- Flame Tests
Flame tests determine how cable reacts to fire. For many of these tests, a vertical flame is applied to the cable at different intervals, and the amount of time the cable burns is measured. Usually, there is a short standardized amount of time that the cable is allowed to burn once the flame is removed. If it burns longer, the cable is considered to have failed the flame test.
- UV Tests
UV Tests examine the ability of a cable's jacketing or connectors to resist UV rays. Sometimes, sunlight and UV radiation can cause the cable to degrade. It is important to know whether the cable is stable enough to be used in an application where it will be exposed to extensive sunlight. If the cable does not stand up to the UV light applied in the UV tests, manufacturers can consider adding UV stabilizers like carbon black to make the cable more weather and UV resistant.
- Exposed-Run (ER) Tests
Exposed-Run Tests are used on unarmored cables to determine if they are rugged enough to be installed as exposed wiring without a tray, conduit, or other cable raceways to protect them. This is also called open wiring. In exposed-run tests, the cable must withstand a series of crush and impact tests that challenge their durability and mechanical strength. Using cables that pass exposed-run tests can potentially lower installation costs since trays or other materials that usually house cable may not be used.
Those are just a few of the tests that give us important information on the cable’s physical qualities. Hopefully, now you know a little more about what goes into cable spec sheets and the process of how cables are classified. If there are any other types of tests you'd like explained, let us know!