Are you interested in using halogen free cables? You are in luck! This article is going to discuss what these cables are and when they should be used.
What are halogens?
Despite the fact that halogens are toxic to humans, these elements are often used to produce electronics and plastics. The halogens used are called:
Halogens are added to products in order to:
- Increase the temperatures those products can tolerate,
- Make the products flame-retardant.
Unfortunately, these halogen-containing materials are a serious threat if they catch on fire. When burning, they release a heavy, toxic smoke.
Furthermore, hot flames cause these materials to corrode. This not only damages the equipment but also makes it a safety hazard.
What halogen free cable means
There is a way to avoid the dangers described above. Using this material is a safer option because halogen free means this type of material doesn’t contain fluorine, chlorine, bromine, iodine, and astatine.
Although the government isn’t enforcing a transition to these products, consumer demand for safer materials has caused more companies to offer them.
This demand is the result of tragic fires that have caused health problems and even death. These fires triggered the release of halogens, which found their way into the lungs of the unlucky individuals affected by the fires.
One specific example of this occurred in 1987. A fire broke out in London Kings Cross tube station. It was later determined that most of the 31 deaths that resulted were caused by toxic gas and smoke inhalation.
The cable industry is responding to consumer demand by offering these cables for a wide range of applications. It is vitally important to employ these types of cables when fire safety is a top concern.
Using halogen free wires accomplishes three important purposes:
- Reducing toxic inhalation if a fire breaks out;
- Protecting the environment,
- Preventing the destruction of materials that catch on fire.
Halogen free materials include:
Cables free from halogen are best used for circumstances that require minimizing toxins and preventing corrosion in order to ensure the safety of others.
Low-smoke, zero halogen (LSZH)
Don’t confuse low-smoke, zero halogen cables with cables free from halogen. The two are not interchangeable.
Low smoke and zero halogen are two terms that are sometimes combined. This combination indicates that the specific cable being referred to possess both qualities described by the terms.
Here’s the difference between the two:
- Low Smoke – Aids firefighters and evacuation efforts by releasing only a thin, clear smoke. This clear smoke makes it easy to see the escape route. However, a low smoke cable isn’t necessarily without halogens,
- Zero Halogen – Does not contain fluorine, chlorine, bromine, iodine or astatine, but may decrease vision by releasing thick smoke.
Although low smoke cables aren’t always free from halogen, and halogen free cables aren’t always low smoke, some cables are designed with both qualities in mind. Such cables are known as low-smoke, zero halogen cables (LSZH).
In fact, there are many different abbreviations for the various types of halogen free cables. This is partly because different cable characteristics can be combined, but it’s also because there is no set term that the cable industry is required to use.
Take a look at the following abbreviations and what they all mean:
- LS0H – Low Smoke, Zero Halogen;
- LSZH – Low Smoke, Zero Halogen;
- LSHF – Low Smoke, Halogen Free;
- LSNH – Low Smoke, Non-Halogen;
- NHFR – Non-Halogen, Flame Retardant;
- HFFR – Halogen Free, Flame Retardant Cable;
- FRZH – Fire Retardant, Zero Halogen,
- LSFRZH – Low Smoke, Fire Retardant, Zero Halogen.
Should cables be free from halogen and low smoke? Well, that depends on the specific application. Some circumstances would benefit from LSZF cables, but not all.
LSZH cables are best used when fire safety is a priority. However, the cable jacket for an LSZH cable is composed of more filler material than other types of jackets. The disadvantages of this include:
- Decreased water-resistance;
- Decreased chemical-resistance;
- Installation requires special lubricants in order to prevent damaging the jacket,
- Less flexible, meaning it may not be capable of handling certain mechanical and electrical functions.
Remember, the decision about what type of cable to use depends on its application. When trying to make this decision for your own project, think about what you really need your cable to do. Taking the time to consider this will help you make the right choice.
You should also ask yourself the following questions:
- What environment will the cables be used in?
- What is my budget?
- Will the cables be near flammable material?
- Am I working in an open or confined area?
Although cables free from halogen have many advantages, you must carefully consider all your options to make sure it’s the appropriate choice for your project. This is an important decision, so make sure to choose wisely.
Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t fret. We can help you make the right choice. Contact us today!