Archived News

BASEC responds to EU decision on metric


BASEC is bringing in new controls on imperial and metric cable lengths to facilitate trade in either system, following the European Union (EU) ruling that Britain can continue to use imperial measurements. 

At the same time, BASEC (British Approval Service for Cables) is warning installers and specifiers to avoid the pitfalls of mixing the two measuring systems together at the engineering level.

Jeremy Hodge, Chief Executive of BASEC, said: "Although this decision has been seen as a victory by many traders in the UK we want to point out that there are some very real dangers of mixing imperial and metric systems when it comes to engineering safety.

"Cable standards and the Wiring Regulations are all set out in metric units.  Calculations should be carried out and cabling specifications given in metric measures to avoid potentially enormous safety and cost implications.  Mixing the two systems could result in the purchase and installation of the wrong size cable.  An installer would also most likely be called upon to remove and make good any errors made on this basis.

He went on: "However, with the price of copper so high, installers are also worried that they are not being supplied the correct length of cable on drums and reels.  One hundred yards is about nine percent shorter than one hundred metres.  There have been cases where length marking has been ambiguous and installers, having paid out proportionately more for their cable, have ended up short."

To reduce the potential for this, BASEC's Certification Committee has approved new rules for the marking of drums and reels for BASEC approved cable.  The units of measure (metres or yards) must always be stated along with quantity. In the UK cable is sold in metric lengths yet in some other markets yards are sometimes used.  Following this ruling BASEC will approve the labeling of cable drums and reels in either metric or imperial measures, as long as they are marked correctly.

"Ultimately installers always need to check what they are buying.  One reel of cable may look cheaper than another, but they must be sure they are getting the length they pay for," added Jeremy.

The European Union Commissioners ruled that there will never be a need to drop imperial measurements.  The decision will not affect current law on metric measurements but means imperial equivalents can be used too and follows years of wrangling between London and Brussels over metrication.

The announcement does not, however, mean that traders can go back to weighing and pricing in imperial measures. According to the UK Metric Association (UKMA) it believes nothing has changed and just as they do now, traders will have to weigh or measure goods and display prices in metric units - with the option of a supplementary indication in non-metric units.

Although this ruling will bring comfort to those not ready to give up their pint, pounds or miles it does continue to bring measurement confusion for those trading with the US, because the US imperial system is different again.


For further press information contact:

Sally Neary, Acumen Public Relations.

Tel: 01704 834772

Editor's Notes:

BASEC is the recognised leader in product certification services for electrical cables, data/signal cables and ancillary products. Through its teams of highly skilled engineers and auditors who possess extensive in-depth commercial and industrial experience, BASEC has a reputation for professional and rigorous assessment processes which ultimately lead to the issuing of BASEC's highly respected certification.

In addition, BASEC offers auditing for Process Capability in cable making, Certificates of Assessed Design for innovative cable products and independent testing and reporting in the event of disputes.

British Approvals Service for Cables,

23 Presley Way,


Milton Keynes,

MK8 0ES.

Tel: 01908 267300

Fax: 01908 267255

Go back