Cable Jacket Ratings: What Does Your Cable Need?

Person in red shirt with black and red cable wire

Last Updated on January 20, 2023 by Josh Mahan

If you’re looking to purchase new ICT cabling for your business, you’ll need to consider the cable jacket rating. But what does that mean, and why is it important? This post will break down jacket ratings and explain why they matter for your business. By understanding how these ratings work, you can ensure that you’re getting cable jackets that will meet your current and future needs. 

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Cable Safety

The National Fire Protection Association is the first to address cable safety (NFPA). For instance, cables with the “CMP,” “CMR,” and “CM” descriptions are frequently seen. These are the listings as they are described in NFPA Article 800.179. When the letters “C” and “M” appear together in a cable’s descriptor, NFPA 70 can be utilized with that cable (also known as the National Electrical Code [NEC]). Except for risers and plenums, “CM” designates a cable for general use that is specified as being fire-retardant.

A cable designated as “CMR” (riser-rated) is one that has fire-resistant qualities to stop the fire from spreading between floors in vertical installations. According to this descriptor, the cable can run safely across floors using risers or vertical shafts.

A “CMP” cable (plenum-rated cable) is one that has been certified as having sufficient fire resistance and low smoke production properties, such as limiting flame propagation to five feet or less and optical density of smoke created during a fire. According to this description, the cable can be installed in ducts, plenums, and other areas of buildings that circulate outside air, like spaces above suspended ceilings or raised floors.

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Cutting wire with pliers

How Can I Determine What I Need?

What your local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) will demand in terms of a listing in order to comply with NFPA rules depends on the sort of space you’re working with. Today, certifications are used to regulate the standards that must be met in order to comply with a listing. Once you know how the space should be listed, you must locate a product that has been approved for that listing. Certification is issued by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory that is authorized by OSHA. Many people in our sector are unaware that there are several NRTLs that may conduct tests and award certification to products that fulfill OSHA safety standards and building criteria.

You might recognize some NRTLs like:

  • NSF International
  • Intertek Testing Services (ETL)
  • FM Approvals
  • TÜV Rheinland of North America Inc.
  • Southwest Research Institute
  • CSA Group Testing & Certification Inc.
  • Southwest Research Institute

Validating The NRTL

Each NRTL utilizes a distinctive registered certification mark that validates a product’s conformity to applicable product safety test requirements. Each NRTL is authorized to certify products to specific industry standards. A product may be marked with a registered certification mark by the manufacturer once it has been certified or rated by a NRTL. This shows that the product has undergone compliance testing and received NRTL certification. Different cables require different certifications from different NRTLs. Your project’s requirements for product certifications are totally determined by how and where the cable will be utilized. Finally, you need to confirm that the product is recognized as compliant by your neighborhood AHJ, whether it be the fire marshal, electrical inspector, or building authority. Keep in mind that the AHJ has the final say as to whether or not you have satisfied the requirements.

Take a step back and think about your application and space before attempting to identify the product certification you require. The listing requirements will be determined by that. After that, you can browse for a product that has been approved for that particular listing. Don’t begin your project, for instance, by hunting for a cable that is ETL or UL-rated. Think about the wider picture instead. For instance, if the cable is going into a plenum space, you must first and foremost confirm that it has CMP certification and is listed for usage in a plenum space. Don’t simply search for the NRTL mark; the product can also have other certifications. Always request verification of compliance from the supplier.

Lessen your concern about rankings and certifications first. Instead, concentrate on:

  • Finding the listing that corresponds to your space
  • Figuring out which certifications are required for your product to meet that listing
  • Confirming that a product that has the appropriate certification
  • Getting evidence of compliance

As an example, let’s look at cable for a plenum environment. You must first locate the listing that corresponds to the available space. Then, in order to assure safety, you want to choose a device that has been approved to meet the specifications for a plenum space. An NRTL issued such certification for a CMP-rated cable.

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The Importance of Cable Jacket Ratings

In today’s technology-driven world, it’s more important than ever to have a clear understanding of the various cable jacket rating systems. Cable jackets with a high rating are designed to withstand exposure to extreme temperatures, humidity and other harsh conditions. This makes them ideal for use in industrial and commercial applications. In addition, high-rated jackets are often flame-retardant, making them safer to use in potentially hazardous environments. When choosing a cable jacket, be sure to consider the specific needs of your application in order to ensure that you select the best possible product.

Selecting the Correct Cable Jacket

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Cable jacket ratings are an important factor to consider when choosing the right cable for your needs. We hope this blog post has helped you understand what the different ratings mean and how to choose the best cable for your project. Be sure to check out our website for more helpful technology blogs.
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