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Knowledge

  • When Lightning Strikes!

    Ensure you have first-class lightning protection

    In the event of over-voltage lightning strikes, it is vital that critical systems and buildings are protected. The first step is to create a methodical and comprehensive lightning protection plan.

    Currently there is not a single piece of equipment that is able to eradicate the damaging effects of lightning, so an efficient lightning protection plan will need to involve the integration of several concepts. ERICO has developed the Six Point Plan of Protection:

    1. Capture the lightning strike
    2. Convey this energy to ground
    3. Dissipate the energy into the grounding system
    4. Bond all ground points together
    5. Protect incoming AC power feeders
    6. Protect low-voltage data/telecommunications circuits

    This plan will help to ensure all aspects of potential damage are considered, ranging from the initial and more obvious direct strike through to the voltage reduction at service entry points.

    Lightning is highly unpredictable, and as the city landscape continues to change, protection that treats this as a constant risk is required. At ETS, we stock an extensive range of Earthing and Lightning Protection products from market leading suppliers like ERICO to help reduce the hazards from this stunning yet lethal phenomenon.

    All lightning protection systems must be able to capture the strike, control the passage and ensure the energy is expended into the grounding system and bond all ground points. This minimises the risks of damage to the building; equipment downtime; fire and injury.

    The majority of lightning strikes contains negative charge, but around 10% of flashes are positive, and although rare, these positive strikes are much more dangerous. Without proper safeguarding of this type of lightning energy, the damage can be disastrous.

    In order for lightning protection to be effective, attention to earthing is required. Read our blog on the Characteristics of a Good Earthing System to find out more.

    Lightning strikes across the world

    ERICO has a proven track record of protecting many high risk and iconic buildings from lightning strikes, including the Sky Tower in Auckland, New Zealand. Standing at an impressive 328 metres tall, the Sky Tower survived over 16 lightning strikes!

    The Bank of China in Hong Kong has withstood more than 100 direct strikes, whilst the Centrepoint Tower in Sydney continued operations without damage or downtime even after over 40 strikes of lightning, all since installing lightning protection systems from ERICO. For more information on other amazing landmarks ERICO has helped protect, click here.

    If you need further advice on lightning protection, contact us on 020 8405 6789 or email us sales@etscablecomponents.com

  • New Selection Guides And Cable Data Available Online

    Want to know what product to terminate a 33kV cable with, or find out the under armour diameter of a 120mm 4 core cable?

    ETS Cable Components now offer a range of cable data and relevant accessory selector guides on their new website.

    Available as downloadable PDF’s, the cable data provides detailed information including: weight, bending radius, and diameter info for single / multi core armoured and unarmoured cables from 450/750v up to 33kV.

    In addition, ETS also supply in-depth cable accessory selector charts to help you choose the right accessory for installing and terminating a range of low and medium voltage power cables. These can either assist at estimating stage or for installation design purposes, where further product data sheets can also be downloaded.

    Nick Timms, ETS Cable Components Technical Manager, said:

    “We at ETS have always prided ourselves on providing easily accessible and legible products data sheets and these cable accessories guides will provide invaluable information to clients, enabling them to select the correct gland or cleat for their specific application with ease.

    “Although every effort has made to ensure accuracy, with so many varied cable sources in the marketplace, it is always preferable to obtain accurate dimensions of the cable/s being used with a particular gland or cleat”.

    Customers wanting a quick answer on an accessory selection can also call one of the ETS product specialists on 0208 405 6789.

    **ETS Cable Components always recommends that data is taken from the actual cable being used on site.
  • What Is Exothermic Welding And Why Is It Used?

    Exothermic welding – also known as thermite welding or exothermic bonding – is a process for permanently joining earthing (grounding) or lightning protection conductors together.

    An exothermic weld can be especially useful for joining dissimilar metals. The process has the advantage in that it requires no external heat source and works by employing a chemical exothermic reaction of a thermite composition (weld powder) to heat the conductors to a point where a low resistance, mechanically sound molecular bond is formed once cooled.

     

     

    Exothermically Bonded Connections

    Although mechanical connections and exothermically welded connections are very similar in their applications, their performance can differ greatly.

    Our “Traditional” and “PLUS” exothermic welding material is suitable for welding these materials together:

    • Copper
    • Mild steel
    • Bronze
    • Brass

    Specialised applications would also include cast iron and stainless steel materials, please speak to our Sales Team: 020 8405 6789 or email: sales@etscablecomponents.com.

    Exothermic welding is the only reliable means of bonding galvanised mild steel to copper conductors, e.g. fence earthing or structural steel applications. ETS is the authorised UK re-seller and stockist for ERICO CADWELD® exothermic welding products

    CADWELD®:

    • Will not deteriorate with age.
    • Eliminates any risk of loosening or corrosion due to its molecular bonding characteristics.
    • Will resist repeated faulty currents.
    • Offers the lowest possible earth path resistance.
    • By visual inspection can be quality controlled.

    Exothermic Welding Training

    ETS can provide in-house training at short notice (UK only), either at our training facility or at a customer’s site for the ERICO CADWELD® exothermic welding system.

    These courses are designed to show and teach the correct preparation procedures, use and applications of the CADWELD® welding system. You can find out more about our exothermic welding training courses here.

    Watch this video on exothermic welding:

    Please share if you found this article helpful or interesting.

     

     

  • Correct Way For Crimping Cable Lugs From TV Show Wheeler Dealers

    Crimping cable lugs incorrectly can be disastrous and potentially be a fire risk. In this clip from Wheeler Dealers (Season 12, Episode 16 1958 Citroen HY van) presenter Ed China shows the correct way to crimp cable lugs.

    Ed uses a complete matched system from the same manufacturer (the crimp terminal, hydraulic battery crimper and die set). In this example, Ed uses Cembre products. However, similar matched systems are available.

    It would always be ETS's recommendation that a matched system is used. This is because the profile of the die set is designed to suit the barrel of the terminal and tooling. If it is not a matched system, this could lead to over or under crimping of the terminal both of which could lead to problems. See our article on how to perform the perfect crimp.

    For more information, please contact: 020 8405 6789 or sales@etscablecomponents.com

    Clip supplied with kind permission from the Discovery Channel.

  • Simple Ways To Reduce Buried Cable Risks Such As Warning Tape For Underground Cable

    Warning tape for underground cable and other ways for reducing risks from buried cables. In urban areas, it is common practice to bury power cables underground. Not only can this help to minimise cable damage during laying, but also it reduces the risk of cables being disturbed in future.

    Unfortunately, burying cables can cause issues in its own right. There’s a chance that the cables will inadvertently be struck during later works which could cause a break in electrical supply to the immediate area and, at worse, lead to serious injury and even death.

    HSE Guidance

    The HSE have warned the construction industry of the need to be more aware of the dangers of working in the vicinity of live underground services following a number of incidents recently. The Government Department gives guidance on laying underground cables. This includes:

    • Planning the work
    • Locating and identifying buried services
    • Safe excavation

    Simple preventative steps of marking where cables are buried can help to protect underground power cables from being accidentally being disturbed.

    Warning Tape For Underground Cable

    ETS offers a wide range of quality markers and tiles for underground cables. These include tiles with the words “DANGER” printed on the apex and warning tape for underground cable such as the 60micron thick PVC Trace-Tape 1.  Its’ two stainless steel wires means that the tape can potentially be found by a cable avoidance tool (CAT). Our underground warning tapes are suitable for marking buried HV, MV and LV electrical power and telecommunication cables.

    Taking precautions of marking underground cables can not only reduce disruption but could prevent serious injury or death.

     

    Cable Markers & Tiling

    To find out more about our warning tape for underground cable and other buried cables marker solutions, please call: 020 8405 6789 or email: sales@etscablecomponents.com.

    The HSE guidance for avoiding danger from underground services can be found here.

  • Cable Jointers Guide To Stripping 11kV PICAS Cable

    'PICAS' stands for Paper Insulated Corrugated Aluminium Sheath cable. These 11kV cables feature a corrugated aluminium sheath, to improve flexibility, the corrugation valleys are filled with bitumen to prevent moisture penetrating along the underside of the outer red PVC sheath, which is added for corrosion protection.

    Removing the outer PVC sheath and Bitumen from PICAS Cable

    picas pvc sheath cut marksFirstly, the red oversheath should be heated gently with a soft-flame gas torch. Care should be taken to avoid overheating the PVC as this will produce toxic fumes and may even burn.

    Once the sheath is warm, but not too hot to touch, it can be cut using a flat bladed cable knife. Start with a circumferential cut then make a lengthwise cut along the cable with the knife to avoid piercing the aluminium. Now you can remove the outer sheath.

    With the PVC sheath removed, the bitumen compound can now be cleaned from the cable. Starting from the open end, using solvent wipes and heat from a gas torch, the compound should be thoroughly cleaned from the surface of the aluminium. Care should be taken as to not overheat the cable, doing so could lead to early joint or termination failure.

    Removing the Aluminium Sheath From PICAS Cable

    Always wear protective gloves when removing the aluminium sheath, the metal can be sharp.

    Using a Chinagraph pencil, mark the aluminium sheath at the removal point as indicated on the relevant jointing instruction. If the mark falls between one of the valleys, move the mark to the next crest towards the cut end of the cable.

    PICAS aluminium sheath removal toolThe aluminium sheath of the PICAS 11kV cable can be removed with a sheath removal tool, which resembles a pipe cutter but has a special twin cutting wheel at one end of the jaw and two positioning rollers at the other end. Always inspect your cable jointing and sheath removal tools as a cutting wheel in bad condition will have to be replaced prior to use to avoid unnecessary damage to the cable.

    Apply the tool to the cable with the cutting wheel spanning a corrugation crest. Tighten the tool until the cutter just indents the crest, and then rotate to cut the metal. Gently increasing the cutting pressure by closing the screw control.

    The aluminium should be removed in sections, no longer than 250mm each.

    With the cores exposed, the cable is now ready for use with the required MV joint or termination.

    For more information on cable stripping procedures and tools, please contact us.

    If you found this article helpful or interesting, please share it!

  • Characteristics Of A Good Earthing System

    The transient nature of lightning with its associated fast rise times and large magnitude currents mean that special consideration needs to be given to earthing, for lightning protection to be effective.

    Many factors such as soil resistivity variations, installation accessibility, layout and existing physical features are all site specific and tend to affect decisions on grounding methods employed. The primary aim of a direct strike earthing system is to:

    - Efficiently dissipate lightning surge energy into the ground
    - Help ensure safety of equipment and personnel

    Effective Earthing and Lightning Protection Systems

    A good earthing systems will feature the following 7 characteristics:

    1. Good electrical conductivity
    2. Conductors capable of withstanding high fault currents
    3. Long life – at least 40 years
    4. Low ground resistance and impedance

    ​The basic philosophy of any grounding installation should be an attempt to maximise the surface area of electrodes of conductors with the surrounding soil. Not only does this help to lower the earth resistance of the grounding system, but it also greatly improves the impedance of the grounding system under lightning surge conditions.

    1. Equipotential bonding

    Equipotential bonding helps ensure that hazardous potential differences do not occur between different incoming conductors such as metallic water services, power systems, telecommunication systems and the local ground, and also minuses step and touch potentials.

    1. Good corrosion resistance

    The ground electrode system should be corrosion resistant, and compatible with other conductors that are buried and bonded to the ground system. Copper is by far the most common material used for grounding conductors. In general, some form of maintenance or inspection procedure should be adopted to ensure the long-term effectiveness of a grounding system.

    1. Electrically and mechanically robust and reliable

    Mechanical coupling can be used to join ground conductors, but suffers from corrosion effects when dissimilar metals are involved. As well as mechanical strength, CADWELD connections provide excellent low impedance, long life electrical connections with excellent corrosion resistance. More information on the benefits of exothermically bonded connections can be found here.

    A Typical Earthing System

    A typical earthing system

    For more information on our range of lightning protection products, visit the earthing section of our website.

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  • Earthing Electrodes and Earth Rods

    Earthing electrodes are specifically designed and installed to improve a systems earthing. These earth electrodes must ideally penetrate into the moisture level below the ground level to reduce resistance.

    They must also consist of metal conductors (or a combination of metal conductor types), which do not corrode excessively for the period of time they are expected to serve. Earth electrodes include rods or pipes driven into the ground, metallic plates or mats buried in the earth or a copper wire ring encircling the structure.

    Underground gas piping or aluminium electrodes are NOT permitted for use as an earth electrodes.

    Earth rods are often selected on the basis of their resistance to corrosion. The other major faction in selection is cost. All too often, the cost of a product is seen as the initial up front price, but the real cost is determined by the serviceable life of the ground rod.

    Copper bonded earth rods vs copper clad
    Copper Bonded Rod vs Copper Clad Rod

    Galvanised steel rods are one of the cheapest electrodes available. However, they are not the most cost effective since they have a relatively short service life.

    Solid copper and stainless steel rods have a long service life. However, they are considerably more expensive than galvanised steel rods. In addition to this, solid copper rods are not suited to deep driving into hard ground due to the likelihood of bending.

    The copper bonded earth rod offers a compromise between the two. It has an electrolytic coating of copper deposited over a layer of nickel. This process helps ensure a long lasting, molecular bond between the copper layer and steel core. We recommend copper bonded ground rods over copper clad electrodes because the copper coating will not slip or tear when driven nor will it crack if the rod is bent.

    Copper bonded earth rods feature high resistance to corrosion, provide a low resistance path to ground and have good characteristics for deep driving.

    The Stainless Steel Option

    It is important to note that certain soils and land fill areas may not be compatible with copper. In these situations, stainless steel represents a better option.

    Stainless steel earth rods may also be an alternative, where structures or components, such as steel towers, poles or lead sheathed cables are in close proximity to an array of ground electrodes.

    In these circumstances, consideration must be given to the consequence of galvanic corrosion. The high cost of stainless steel rods prohibits their widespread use. As shown in the following graphs:

    Earth Rod Life Expectancy By Material

    Earth rod life expectancy material

    Earth Rod Comparative Costs By Material

    Earth rod material costs

    For more information on our copper earthing rods and electrodes, as well as the rest of our earthing and lightning protection products, please contact our Sales Team.

    If you found this article helpful or interesting, please share it!

  • What Does The UL94 Flammability Rating Mean?

    UL is the abbreviation for the Underwriters Laboratories, this is an independent organisation in the United States to control and certificate product safety. UL provide safety related certification, validation, inspection and testing services to a range of clients including manufacturers, retailers, policy makers and regulators.

    Contained within their extensive list of testing and product standards, the UL also specified the flammability test for UL94 for plastic materials. UL94 is a material burning test done on a defined specimen of raw material of the product in question. It does not, however, carry out a flame test on the final product.

    UL94 differs between a horizontal burning test UL94 HB and a vertical burning test UL94 V.

    For the vertical test UL94 V, there are three flame ratings defined: UL94 V0, UL94 V1 and UL94 V2.

    UL94 HB - Horizontal Burning Test

    UL94 hb horizontal test Test Criteria: Burning rate of specimen in mm/min.
    Classification: According to HB

     

    UL94 V - Vertical Burning Test

    UL94 V Vertical Test Test Criteria: Afterflame time of specimen. Drip of flaming particles.
    Classification: According to V0, V1 or V2



    In all these burning tests, an open flame is applied for a specified time to the specimen. As the burning behaviour also depends on the thickness of the material, it is important to classify the material not only according to HB, V0, V1 or V2 but also to mention the thickness of the specimen.

    The following table is a summary of test procedures and requirements of the above four UL94 classifications:

    Horizontal Test UL94 Vertical Test UL94
    Classification HB V0 V1 V2
    Number of specimen 3 3 5 5 5
    Thickness of specimen < 3mm 3 to 13mm up to max. 13mm
    1st flame application 30 sec. 30 sec. 10 sec. 10 sec. 10 sec.
    2nd flame application - - 10 sec. 10 sec. 10 sec.
    Burning rate max. 75 mm/min max. 40 mm/min - - -
    Afterflame time after 1st flame application for each individual specimen - - max. 10 sec. max. 30 sec. max. 30 sec.
    Afterflame time after 2nd flame application for each individual specimen - - max. 30 sec. max. 60 sec. max. 60 sec.
    Total afterflame time for all 5 specimen after 1st and 2nd flame application - - max. 50 sec. max. 250 sec. max. 250 sec.
    Afterflame or afterglow of any specimen up to its end allowed yes yes no no no
    Cotton indicator ignited by flaming particles or drops allowed - - no no yes



    Looking at the vertical test (V0, V1, and V2) results, it is evident from the above table that a material that complies with the UL94 V0 rating is considerably more flame resistant than products meeting the UL94 V2. When tested, materials that meet V2 ignited the cotton cloth via flaming particles or drops, meaning the product may not be suitable for areas where there is flameable material near by.

    It is important to be aware that just because a material is UL94 tested and compliant, there can be a considerable difference in fire performance and safety between two materials, especially between UL94 V2 and UL94 V0.

    ETS Cable Components current stock a range of UL94 rated electrical products, including:

    - Single Bolt Nylon Cable Cleats - Including LUL approved version
    - Two Bolt Nylon Cable Cleats - Including LUL approved version
    - Red HV Cable Cleats
    - Flexicon Trackside and Rail Vehicle Interior Flexible Conduit
    - 3M Scotch 77 Tape
    - Powersafe Connectors

    For more information on our range of UL94 rated products, please contact our Sales Team.

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  • Why Choose An Exothermically Bonded Connection?

    Exothermically welded connections and mechanical connections are very similar in their applications, yet their performance can differ greatly.

    As UK distributors of ERICO CADWELD welding systems, we explore the benefits of a exothermic bonded connection over mechanical connectors.

    The CADWELD Weld

    - Will carry more current than the conductor.
    - Will not deteriorate with age.
    - Is a molecular bond that eliminates any risk of loosening or corrosion.
    - Will resist repeated faulty currents.
    - Can be quality controlled simply by visual inspection.

    Reliability

    As the molecular bond eliminates the concept of surface contact, an electrolyte cannot penetrate between the conductors and cause oxidation and deterioration in the course of time.

    Corrosive Environments

    This reliability is of particular interest for humid or chemical environments or for bonds directly buried in the ground.

    Ability To Withstand High Current

    The melting temperature of CADWELD filler material is higher than the melting temperature of copper (1082oC). For this reason, in the event of abnormal heating due to a high fault current, the conductor is destroyed before the connection.

    Conductivity

    The CADWELD connections form a solid bond around the conductors assuring continuity. The cross sectional area of the weld has greater current carrying capacity than the conductors.

    Performance

    Standard CADWELD welds have a cross section greater than that of the conductors to be joined, which compensates for the difference in resistivity between the conductor and the welding material. Consequently, under fault conditions, the weld will always remain cooler than the conductor.

    If special applications do not allow for the required increase in cross section to be employed, the use of the formula:

    CADWELD resistivity formula

    Which will make it possible to define precisely the resistance of the CADWELD weld.

    Comparison between CADWELD bonded connections and mechanical connections

    CADWELD Weld Mechanical Crimped Connection
    cadweld weld

    mechanical crimp connectionActual Contact Surface
    Mechanical crimping connection points of contact

    The CADWELD bonded connection provides permanent conductivity over the whole of the section due to a molecular bonding between the metal surfaces. The mechanical connection presents a significant difference between the apparent contact surface and the actual surface.


    Exothermic Welding Video Playlist

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