Electricians guide to CPR
Below are some Frequently Asked Questions regarding CPR for electricians. If you have any other queries not covered here please do not hesitate to contact us.
What is CPR and what does it cover?
The Construction Products Regulation is a piece of European legislation (EU Regulation 305/2011) that includes all types of products used in the building industry e.g. doors, window frames, cement, plasterboard, plaster, toilets pans, sinks etc.). Anything that is FIXED into the fabric of the building is in scope and must be CE marked for CPR. “Safety in case of fire” is one of 7 performance characteristics.
Does it relate to all electrical cables?
Currently it only relates to the way cables react to fire not the way they resist fire (continue to operate in a fire). Therefore this relates to cables that are those NOT designed to resist fire. This includes PVC and LSHF armoured, flat twin and earth and single core, and many others including data and optical cables. If they’re fixed into the fabric of the building they will be in scope. Appliance power flexes aren’t in scope, or those just buried in the ground and not entering a building.
What does it mean for cables?
The biggest direct impact will be on manufacturers, and the least on end users (such as electricians). In a very simple nutshell for electricians, cables will be given classifications according to their performance in a fire (how they REACT). There are 7 classes of cables ranging from A (best) - F (worst) (A, B1, B2, C, D, E, F).
What do these classes mean?
A Class “A” cable would be the very best performing cable during a fire and a Class “F” would be the worst performing cable under CPR. IMPORTANTLY, the class represents the cables performance to the CPR requirements and not to any product standard to which it claims compliance (e.g. BS 5467). Therefore, there could be two different BS 5467 PVC SWA cables on the market, both fully complying with BS 5467, but under CPR their reaction to fire could be different and therefore would be classified differently.
What’s the difference between the classes?
Different classes require different criteria to be applied. Therefore cables will be made and tested to achieve the requirements of a particular class. It is not just the way they’re made and tested, it involves who tested them and how the manufacturing process is controlled. Cable cannot simply “jump up class” by tweaking the manufacturing or doing some more tests. Class C cable could be sold as Class D (as Class C is superior to Class D), but Class D cannot be sold as Class C.
Who specifies what class cable can be used for what installation?
The classes of the cables may be specified by the client, or may not. In the UK, there are no official Regulations stating which classes have to be used for which applications. For instance, a client could ask for “BS 5467 SWA PVC cable (CPR Class C minimum)”. To fulfil such a contract you would need to use Class C cable. Failure to do so would be a breach of contract – in the same way if a client asked for a BASEC approved cable and you used a non-BASEC cable. In this case it could be difficult to find a Class C BS 5467 cable; however, a BS 6724 cable may be found which was Class C and this change of specification would need to be cleared with the client.
Will higher classes of cable cost more?
The cost for cable could be greater as you go up the performance scale. A client should specify only what they really need for their installation. For instance, conductors in a twin and earth cable made of gold would work, but they would be very expensive and are not required. In the same way, if the installation specifies a Class D cable but the client then asks for a Class B1 cable – it would work but it could be expensive and might not be justifiable.
What’s the first thing I can expect to see?
Initially expect to see lots a Class E cable on the market, as this is really the entry point for cable manufacturers in order to continue to sell cable on to the European market under CPR (unmarked and unclassified cable will soon cease be legal to be sold). This obviously will not satisfy those clients wanting a better performing cable – so beware about buying what appears cheap class E/F cable which you may not then be able to use. Old unmarked/unclassified cable from your stockyard may not satisfy clients – our advice would be to cycle stock and keep a minimum stock holding while the CPR situation resolves.
What classes will I see?
Typically we expect that you won’t see much if any class “A” of "B1" cable as these are likely to be for specialist applications. The majority you will probably be asked for will be classes E and D, with some C, although certain high-end clients in high-risk industries may occasionally request Class B2.
When will these classes matter?
The impact on electricians will be when quoting for jobs and collecting it at the wholesalers. You can expect to see the impacts of CPR from now on, as it has been a voluntary system up to the 1st July 2017.
How will I know what class of cable I have?
All cable sold under the CPR will need to be clearly labelled as to its class – this could be on the cable and a label will be applied to reel or if sold as a pre-cut shank, the label may be applied to the shank. The wholesaler is responsible for ensuring that the cable has the appropriate marking before it is offered for sale. Please note that cable already in the supply chain on 1 July 2017 need not be classified or CPR labelled.
What will this Reel / Shank label look like?
Below is an example taken out of the Regulation of a label you may see (although this is an example and
may vary slightly), the class of performance is the key. This label would be applied to a Class E cable.
Will BREXIT cause this legislation to be repealed?
We do not know, but until we are told otherwise, it’s business as usual.