It is cold at the moment. It is very cold! In fact, I’m typing this blog in our office while wearing my jacket (true story). Between the many cups of tea I’m drinking to keep warm and inevitable reluctant trips to the loo - I’ve been considering the plight of cables in low temperatures – who like me need a special jacket to protect them against the cold.
There are specialized cables that are designed to operate at lower temperatures (either for outdoor use, or in freezer or cold storage areas). Generally, these will have jackets made using PE (polyethylene) or PUR (polyurethane), which have better tolerance to extreme temperatures than PVC (polyvinyl chloride).
However, even when installing cables that are designed for low temperatures, there are some guidelines to follow before and during installation, to avoid damage to cables and eventual network performance issues.
Ideally, cables should be protected from environmental influences prior to installation. Particularly in the 24 hours before they are used.
Cables will have two defined temperature ranges – installation and operating. The cable manufacturer will be able to provide this information (should be on the data sheet). An example is shown right – for Datwyler’s Industrial PUR cable, which is often used by food retail companies in cold storage & freezer departments.
As you can see, the installation temperature is higher than the operating temperature, this is because even specialized cables are more susceptible to damage caused by mis-handling during installation at low temperatures.
Cables should be handled with care and not dropped, kinked, crushed or bent severely. Also, pulling forces or tensile strength shouldn’t be exceeded (again, this information should be on the manufacturer’s data sheet).
Example of mechanical specification is shown right (again for the Datwyler Industrial rated PUR cable).
Fibre optic cables are susceptible to additional challenges when used in cold temperatures. When used in ducts, where there may be standing water (either through infiltration or condensation), freezing can be a real problem.
When water freezes around fibre optic cables, the cable is put under pressure, which can result in micro bending of the fibre. This can affect its transmission characteristics – sometimes temporarily and recovering when temperatures rise – or fatally if fibres crack.
In many cases it may not be possible to avoid ingress or egress of water into ducts or conduits, but consideration should be made during installation / cable laying. Also, in the event of a network problem – it might be worth checking the thermometer (or your phone App) – as the fault (temporary or otherwise) might just be down to the chilly weather.
If you’d like to find out more about our cabling solutions for harsh environments or industrial applications, including IP68 rated outlets (like the one shown), please contact us today.
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