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Construction Products Regulation and installation cables of the future

Construction Products Regulation comes to effect on electric cables, too, in July 2017. Its purpose among other things is to improve fire safety and environment by harmonizing the CE-markings on construction products. In case of installation cables, halogen-free cables are the answer. They are safe, environmentally friendly and fulfil even the strictest CPR criteria.

Construction Products Regulation (EU 305/2011), CPR, is part of the European Union legislative framework supporting free movement of goods across the borders in the EU region.

The CPR identifies a number of basic requirements that shall be met by products used in construction works - e.g. buildings, but also infrastructure such as roads, bridges and tunnels. Depending on the products, they are classified for example in areas of “mechanical resistance and stability” (to avoid collapse etc.), “hygiene, health and the environment” (emission of dangerous substances, toxic gases, etc.) or “safety in case of fire”. Cables are subject to these latter criteria.

European Standard EN 50575 for cables gives the framework but also freedom

EN 50575 is a harmonized product standard under the CPR and defines the basic reaction to fire attributes of power, control and communication cables used for general applications in construction works, regardless of their voltage. Excluded from the new regulations are functionally fire resistant cables and some other special cables which will get their own requirements later.

The product standard EN 50575 does not take a stand on design, materials or manufacturing methods of the cables; it defines the harmonized procedures for classification of the cables only according to their tested performance under fire. Cables must be tested for heat release, smoke production, flame spread, flaming droplets and acidity. According to fire performance the cables can be categorized in seven fire classes (Aca...Fca) with three subclasses (s for smoke production, d for flaming droplets and a for acidity). Type testing must be conducted in independent, specifically accredited test laboratories. This ensures that all cables sold as construction products within the EU fulfil the same classification requirements in same harmonized way.

The EU-regulation only defines the reaction to fire classes of the cables, and how to test and communicate them. The minimum requirements for cables to be installed in different constructions and their parts are defined independently by the national authorities of each EU country. This way each country can determine their desired levels of safety that comply with national regulations and local construction methods and traditions.

“For example in Finland the most likely classes used will be Cca, Dca and Eca and their subclasses,” says Mika Mutru, Director of Product Development at Reka Cables. Mutru has been actively involved in the standardization work of the cable segment in Finland. He sees that with installation cables the Nordic countries will most likely set very similar requirements.

Halogen-free comes with all the benefits

According to Mutru the minimun requirements for installation cables will most likely increase. For example at least in some parts of the construction the class Dca –s2, d2, a2 (class fire-proofed, low smoke production cable with low level of acidity) might be required. “This requirement is difficult to meet with PVCcables,” remarks Mutru. “Halogen-free cables produce considerably less smoke and have lower levels acidity than regular PVCcables. Halogen-free installation cables are a very good choice for example in environments where large amounts of people are in danger of being exposed to fire and smoke.”

In case of fire the materials used in cables can have a crucial impact on health, safety and environment. Thick smoke produced by cables during fire can affect the health of the people inhaling the smoke as well as reduce the visibility of exit routes. In addition to health risks, toxic gases and acids forming in high temperatures spread the fire and can seriously harm constructions, machines and especially electronics.  Flaming droplets dropping from ceiling spread the fire even further.

Halogen-free cables reduce all these risks compared to PVC-cables. Well-designed halogen-free cables have other benefits too. They are nowdays light in design and extremely easy to peel.

“By choosing Reka’s halogen-free installation cables you make sure you comply with the criteria set by any Nordic body of legislation,” says Mutru. “And remember, you don’t have to settle for minimum requirements. A designer or contractor who cares about safety and environment always chooses halogen-free.”

Reka is the best partner – because we care

For Reka Cables continuous product development is the norm. “We are concentrating heavily on developing safe and installer-friendly halogen-free cables”, says Mika Mutru. “We see halogen-free cables as the trend of the future in Finland and the Nordic countries, and we want to be in the frontline by offering high-quality cables in this segment.”

Market trends are not the only drivers for this development. “We care about people and the environment”, says Jari Haapala, Director of Human Resources, Quality and Environment at Reka Cables. “We want the cables with best possible qualities to be used in construction so that our surroundings become as safe and environmentally-friendly as possible. We develop our cables with all these aspects in mind.”

Reka Cables is ready for the CPR.” We are type-testing all our cables that fall under the new regulations, says Haapala, “We make sure that all our cables comply with the regulations, norms and standards so you don’t have worry about them.” And by choosing halogen-free installation cables you can be sure that the required reaction-to-fire classes in your construction are met, no matter where you are building it.