The wiring scenario is constantly evolving, especially due to legislation and regulations that redefine quality and standards: the biggest news in recent years was the entry into force of the Construction Products Regulation, better known as CPR. Officially active from 1 July 2017, the regulation establishes precise rules for the distribution and use of construction material, including cables.
What is CPR?
This is a law that applies to all cables for the transmission of telecommunications and energy, both optical fiber and copper, used in construction and civil engineering works.
The CPR has legalized a series of regulations and obligations in the use and distribution of these electrical materials, in order to ensure greater safety, especially in relation to the reactions these products may have when they come into contact with fire.
The CPR is a regulation with European validity and affects all the States of the Union, which have the duty to provide each cable with a certification that classifies its reaction towards fire and that guarantees its minimum performance. The essential characteristics assessed in the context of CPR - to ensure safety in the event of fire, hygiene, health and greater environmental protection - are:
- fire resistance
- reaction to the flames
- the release of dangerous substances
After a transition period of around one year, during which distributors had to bring their stock into compliance, the regulation became fully active, setting new obligations for producers and manufacturers of materials included in the legislation. The reason for this legislation was also strongly dictated by the many accidents - attributable to electrical causes - which occur every year both in the domestic and public sphere.
The classification of cables
The electric cables are divided into 7 classes, based on their response to fire, which in descending order of performance are Aca, B1ca, B2ca, Cca, Dca, Eca, Fca, where “ca” indicates “cable”. The cables identified with the codes, A, B and C, are those with guaranteed better performance in relation to the fire, D and E instead ensure basic levels of safety.
In order to allow an immediate recognition of the products and also in relation to the use that will be done, in addition to the basic classification, then there are other elements to be considered, respectively indicated with the letters a, s and g, and followed by a number that goes from 1 to 3 for s and a, and from 0 to 2 for g. 'A' indicates the acidity, that is the danger of the fumes and their corrosive action, 's' indicates the opacity of the fumes, while 'g' refers to the dripping of incandescent particles that can propagate the fire.
Since the entry into force of the CPR, therefore, all cables to be installed permanently must be used according to this reaction to fire classification and therefore also taking into account the type of surrounding environment and the risks involved.
The reason for this classification is to standardize the legislation so as to make it identical and comprehensible to all EU countries, so as to ensure a greater level of safety and traceability of substances used permanently in buildings. For this reason the CPR applies to all public and private buildings, civil engineering works, electrical connections and external lighting systems.
Obligations for distributors
The CPR regulation therefore obliges all manufacturers, distributors and cable installers to update the material according to the standard, and in particular to adopt two basic measures:
- the first is to include the CE mark, which certifies that the cable in question complies with the new European safety regulations: it must appear together with the identification number of the certification body, the details of the manufacturer and the permitted uses as well as the level of flammability and its reaction to fire. The CE mark must appear on the packaging of the product, so as to be clearly visible and easily legible, must be not less than 5mm and indelible;
- the second mandatory warranty is the one indicated with the word DoP, or Cable Performance Declaration: this is a document that must be available on the manufacturer's website and which must contain a whole set of information identifying the cable, its performance and warnings. In particular, the DoP must list the manufacturer's name, the identification number of the cable, the evaluation system used and the certification of product performance based on the CPR.
In addition to the production of material complying with the CPR regulations, the distributors have the obligation to guarantee the traceability of the product, even after its destruction, and it will be their duty also to remove from the market materials not considered compliant with the law.
For a retailer or a distributor, the CPR is a double edged sword: on one hand, it has the certainty to provide material according to the law and with a certain type of guaranteed performance, while on the other hand it will certainly have to suffer more to earn the right type of cables.
There is a solution that, in addition to solving this dilemma, brings with it other not indifferent advantages: It’s the prewired conduit, a product that embodies all the security guarantees provided by the CPR and goes further, allowing a saving of time and money , not to mention the convenience of storage.
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