What is the Main Difference Between Fire Resistant Cables and Flame Retardant Cables?

Fire is one of the most destructive forces in the world, capable of destroying property and taking lives. This is why fire safety and prevention have become a top priority for many industries. One important aspect of fire safety is the use of Fire Resistant Cables and Flame Retardant Cables. But here, confusion often arises as many think these two cable types are the same. Well, this is not true.

What Is Flame Retardant Cable?

Flame retardant cables are specifically designed to prevent the spread and sustainment of fire. These cables limit the amount and duration of heat produced when exposed to external sources like a flame. Flame retardant cables can be made from thermoplastics, rubber, PVC, or specialty compounds. The conductors that makeup flame retardant cables are also treated with compounds that make them less susceptible to burning and melting. These compounds may include halogen-free polymers or fillers like glass fibre, mica, aramid fibers, and mineral fillers.

What Is Fire Resistant Cable?

Unlike flame retardant cables, fire-resistant cables are specifically designed to withstand the heat produced in a fire. These cables generally use thicker insulation layers which can protect them from the intense heat and flames of a fire. They are often made with special materials like cross-linked polyethylene or silicone rubber compounds that can handle temperatures up to 2000°C without melting or losing their insulation properties. In addition, fire resistant cables may also be composed of different types of metal alloys or treated with specialized chemicals that make them flame-resistant and heat-resistant. This makes fire resistant cables a crucial component in any wiring system with a chance of an extreme fire.

Difference Between Fire rated and Flame Retardant Cable

The fire-rated cable industry comprises two types of wires and cables, fire resistant (FR) and flame retardant (FR). While both are designed to help protect property from the damaging effects of fire, there are some major differences between these two varieties.

  • Flexibility

Flame retardant cables are typically more flexible than fire resistant wires. This makes them easier to install and work with in cramped or confined spaces. Flame retardant cables can often be bent to fit into tight spaces that fire-resistant wires cannot.

  • Insulation

The insulation on fire resistant and flame retardant cables are also different. This has a much thicker insulation layer than the flame retardant cable, making it better suited for long-term applications or reducing oxygen levels that might lead to combustion.

  • IEC Standards

The flame retardant cable specification must meet the IEC 60332 standard. All flame retardant wires must pass this internationally accepted requirement, including the UL 1685 Flammability test. However, fire-resistant cables pass the IEC 60331 standard, which is a much more stringent testing procedure and indicates that the wire is more resistant to heat and flame than the IEC 60332 standard.

  • Cable Types

There are two types of fire resistant cables, Single Core and Multi Core. Single-core cables are commonly used in residential and commercial buildings, while multi-core cables are typically found in industrial and automotive applications, and fire retardant cable types are categorized according to the type of materials used in them, such as aluminum or copper.

  • Wire Sheath

Flame retardant cable has a sheath of material designed to keep flame and smoke from spreading, while fire-resistant cable does not. Flame retardant cables must meet stringent requirements for testing and pass UL 1685 Flammability tests.

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