Irish Standard IS 201-4:2013

Dr Jeremy Hodge, Chief Executive of the British Approvals Service for Cables (BASEC) looks at the introduction of Irish Standard IS 201-4:2013 and wonders if the changes it brings to the ubiquitous ‘twin and earth’ cable could lead to it becoming the de facto standard north of the border?

IS 201-4:2001 included twin and earth cables in two styles with an un-insulated earth and with an insulated earth. The un-insulated CPC option has now been removed, thus the most significant change in IS 201-4:2013 is the move to a full sized and insulated (G/Y) earth conductor replacing the previous twin and earth with a reduced size bare CPC, as defined in the United Kingdom in BS 6004:2012.

Following the release of the new standard in September 2013 we are now in the transitional period of the introduction and here at BASEC we are geared up and looking forward to receiving, testing and approving cables to the new standard.

And those changes in IS 201-4:2013 could create an interesting situation south as well as north of the border, as different installation codes prevail.

Previously, electrical contractors from the Irish Republic and their counterparts in Northern Ireland could readily work across the border installing twin and earth cable, knowing their respective country’s standards ensured commonality and were to a near-identical specification, and therefore interchangeable.

But now, and as we read it, the revised standard for the Irish Standard cable could become accepted for use under BS 7671 in Northern Ireland, while Irish Wiring Regulations (ET 101) may, from the end of the transitional period, regard its former UK equivalent cable as unacceptable.

This could give some contractors a headache as they may now need to double-stock with the correct cable for the job, and have to remember on which side of the border which cable is permitted for use.

However the most interesting outcome could be that the IS 201-4:2013 cable becomes a de facto choice for Northern Ireland if contractors use it. However, that could be affected by the cost implications of using a probably more costly cable with full size earth conductor and additional sheath and insulation materials.

Time will tell, but is the possible northward advance of IS 201-4:2013 a possibility or an inevitability, with important implications for the future of UK, Irish and EU harmonisation of Standards in the electrical industry?

The British Approvals Service for Cables (BASEC) is a recognised sign of assurance of independent cable testing and approval. A non-profit making Government-nominated body, BASEC has for more than 30 years been a mark of reassurance to those specifying cable.

The leader in product certification services for electrical cables, data and signal cables and ancillary products, BASEC has a reputation for quality, clarity and ensuring safety in cables. All products are rigorously tested to meet necessary and appropriate British, European and international standards through detailed examination of manufacturers' production processes and controls.

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