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  Posted by: electime      14th September 2021

While the dangers associated with low-quality cables are well documented, it is far too easy for people in the electrical industry to take cable quality for granted. For electrical wholesalers it is convenient to pass this responsibility onto the manufacturer but, taking the time to fully understand and recognise the standards cables should adhere to is a must.

Here, Matthew Nudd, area manager at ERF Electrical, discusses the various certifications and approvals electrical wholesalers should look out for when purchasing cables from manufacturers. He will also outline the importance of sourcing quality cable products and the potentially devastating risks non-compliant cables pose.

While an increasing number of electrical wholesalers are expanding their services online, it is crucial they remember the integral role they play in not only supplying electrical goods but also offering advice, guidance and support to customers. This all-encompassing service shouldn’t begin once an order is placed with them or a customer walks through the door, it should start at the beginning of the chain when they’re sourcing products.

Carrying out thorough checks on manufacturers and their products will mean not only will electrical wholesalers be in a better position to advise customers on the most suitable products for their needs, but they’ll also ensure the goods they are selling are fit for purpose and most importantly, safe.

This is particularly crucial when it comes to sourcing cables as faulty appliances and wiring are known to be the second most common cause of dangerous faults and fires.

Thankfully, there are a few straightforward checks electrical wholesalers can carry out to ensure the cables they are ordering are safe and of good quality.

The first is ensuring the cable complies with the relevant British standard. As is well known by electrical wholesalers, British Standard (BS) cables are electrical cables which have been manufactured in accordance with specified requirements. This will mean the cable has been built and designed to mitigate common issues which may arise as a result of poor design.

On top of ensuring the cable meets the relevant British Standard, electrical wholesalers should also make sure they are ordering from a reputable manufacturer. Although there will be times when orders need to be placed with new suppliers you should carry out a thorough background check on who the manufacturer is and what their reputation within the industry is like. The easiest way to do this is to find out whether the cable has been approved by a third party such as the British Approvals Service for Cables (BASEC) or the Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB). This will mean the cable has undergone stringent testing and is compliant with the highest standards, including safety.

Manufacturers who are certified by these bodies have their products regularly tested to ensure they conform to safety standards all year round. The LPCB has been working with the industry for more than 100 years to help ensure fire and security products perform effectively. In order to ascertain LPCB certification, products have to meet stringent criteria – providing wholesalers and contractors with the confidence they are safe and will perform as required. All products that are certified by the LPCB are listed on RedBookLive.

Cables that are approved by BASEC will have the mark ‘BASEC’ printed on the outer sheath of the cable making it easy to identify the ones which have undergone this thorough testing. A list of all BASEC certified products and manufacturers can be found here.

There are also some additional certifications electrical wholesalers should look out for, these include the Construction Product Regulation (CPR) rating – a mandatory requirement applying to all cable products in Europe – and the UKCA marking (replacing the CE marking) which should be included within the packaging labelling and DoP documentation.

Having explored some of the key checks electrical wholesalers should carry out before ordering cables from a manufacturer, it is important we also highlight the potential consequences of people not exercising this due diligence.

One of the most extreme and dangerous consequences of poor-quality cabling is the increased risk of fire. Hotspots caused by damaged or small cables can lead to fires breaking out resulting in damage to appliances and machinery – increasing the cost implications of any incidents. In more severe circumstances, poor-quality cabling can also lead to fires spreading more quickly with higher quantities of smoke, gas or heat being released, increasing the potential threat of the blaze.

While it is important to note that cables which comply with the strictest safety protocols cannot – by themselves – prevent a fire from breaking out, they can go a long way to reducing the risk and potential threat of a fire. Because of this, there can be little doubt of the importance of electrical wholesalers sourcing high-quality cables with the correct approvals and accreditations. While the cost for a better quality cable is likely to be higher, it could be suggested that wholesalers have a moral and ethical duty of care to ensure that the customer understands the risks involved of not using high-quality products as recommended.

Another consequence of using poor-quality cables is that due to the material they are made from they are much harder to strip. Not only is spending additional time stripping the outer sheath of a wire a major inconvenience, it also adds extra hours onto a task – ultimately increasing the cost of the job.

Although there are many parties involved in the designing, manufacturing, distribution and installation of cables, electrical wholesalers have an important role to play in ensuring electricians and contractors are provided with cables which are fit for purpose and safe.

In addition to this, wholesalers should also help to educate and inform electrical contractors on the risks associated with cable installation and how they can choose the right product for the right application. By carrying out detailed and thorough checks, electrical wholesalers will not only establish greater trust from their customers but also improve the service they can offer to them. Failure to carry out these critical safety checks could have serious consequences.