CPR for cables: A reminder of the changes
Changes to the CPR for cables (Construction Products Regulation) which came into effect on 1st July last year placed compulsory requirements on any copper or fibre optic cables installed permanently in buildings within the European Economic Area (EEA), including the UK.
The regulation changes set a standard for how cables react during a fire. The aim is to eliminate the use of substandard products across Europe, thereby helping to reduce the risk of electrocution or fire, improve the safety of buildings and protect the people within them.
The changes mean that electrical cables used within the construction industry must now be tested, classified and labelled to ensure they conform to standards laid out in the regulations. In the UK, the fire performance standard of cables, EN50575, is divided into classes B2, C, D and E, with B2 and C being the best.
Every cable manufactured after July 1st, 2017, must carry a label which includes a Declaration of Performance (DoP) number, enabling it to be traced back to the testing centre, and carry a CE marking which shows that it complies with the Low Voltage Directive. To gain a CE mark, cables must be tested and certified for manufacturing process and fire performance, according to the standards laid out in the regulations.
Cable manufacturers, suppliers, wholesalers and distributors in the UK must ensure that any cables which will be permanently installed in buildings, whether residential, commercial or industrial, meet the regulations. Cables that were manufactured or entered the market before July 2017 do not need to have a DoP.
The CPR came into effect in 2013, when it replaced the Construction Product Directive which had only placed a voluntary motivation on manufacturers to provide a CE marking on their cables. It changed the requirement to a mandatory one, requiring CE marks on all products according to a European standard known as the European Technical Assessment (ETA), which had been developed and accepted by all countries in the EEA.
The changes to the CPR introduced in July are the latest in a number of amends to the regulations, which have been welcomed in the industry and are increasingly demanded by customers. For customers, it ensures compliance obligations are met, and gives peace of mind to customers and end users because it proves that the cable is ‘fit for purpose’ and meets the requirements for ‘safety in case of fire’.
It also allows a more informed decision regarding the products being used and installed in new constructions, particularly in buildings which house a large number of people leading to an increased fire risk, such as high-rise accommodation, hospitals, schools and hotels.
Will it affect the cost?
The elements needed to manufacture a higher performing cable will lead to it being costlier to manufacture, so customers are now having to look closely at exactly what the cables will be used for and buy the standard of cable most suitable for the project. But selecting the right cable for the job should be easier with the increased transparency that the regulations have created.