Last edited 07 May 2021

Main author

ECA Institute / association Website

Electrical wiring

Electrical lines-2147450 640.jpg

[edit] Introduction

Electrical wiring is defined in the IET Wiring Regulations (BS 7671) as ‘wiring systems’, with the following definition:

‘An assembly made up of cable or busbars and parts, which secure, and if necessary, enclose the cable or busbars.’

Wiring as a term in such instances is usually taken to mean ‘cabling’ and the installation of cables within a building.

[edit] Cables and cabling

A cable, in the context of electrical installations in buildings, is an insulated conductor of electricity, usually copper or aluminium, with a protective casing which acts as an insulator. Cables are used to transmit electrical energy or data or telecommunications signals from one point to another.

The usual attributes of an electrical cable include:

Flexible cables (often simply called flex cables), comprise finer strands of conductor material, and are used where regular movement or articulation is expected that could damage regular cables.

Cable insulation materials may comprise common plastics such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), modified synthetic materials, or rubber. Other forms of insulation include mineral powder housed within a metallic outer casing.

The way different cables behave when subjected to fire conditions is the subject of extensive research. Toxic gas emissions, density of smoke and fire propagation speeds can vary widely with different forms of cable. This is a key consideration when selecting materials for buildings.

Since 2017, cables marketed and made available in the European Union (EU) must carry a ‘Euroclassclassification, categorising their reaction to fire conditions.


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