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10/24/2016

Whats the Difference between EPR and TR-XLP Cable? - Border States

Whats the Difference between EPR and TR-XLP Cable?


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Kristen Murphy
(https://solutions.borderstates.com/author/kristenmurphy/)

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September 27, 2016
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Knowing the difference between EPR and TR-XLP cables can be


tricky. We explain the trade-offs below.
Contribution: Ed Tafoya, SW/SC Regional Sales Manager Utility, for Border States Electric,

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shared some of his cable expertise in the creation of this article.


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XLP
Cross-linked polyethylene (XLP) compound was invented during the 1950s and gained
popularity during the 1960s because it provided physical protection and flexibility, making it a

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staple in providing improved reliability in the electrical system. Cross-linked insulation was also

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affordable and could be mass produced by many suppliers. Therefore, it was the right
compound at the right time.

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10/24/2016

Whats the Difference between EPR and TR-XLP Cable? - Border States

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In the early 1970s there were growing concerns that cable failure was linked to the ingress of
moisture and contaminants into the cable core. Over time, this caused stress points within the
insulation that led to the treeing phenomena. Treeing, over time, erodes the insulation, leading

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to cable failure.

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TR-XLP

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(http://solutions.borderstates.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/trxlpe_mv_cable__2_-1.jpg)

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A diagram of TR-XLP cable.

In response to the treeing phenomenon was the development of TR-XLP (Tree RetardantFe
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Cross-Linked Polyethylene) in 1982, which improved the breakdown (dielectric) strength,


reduced electrical losses, and hindered the growth of electrical trees. Dielectric strength is the
ability of the insulation, under normal operating conditions, to withstand degradation that would

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cause a failure of the insulation, and eventually resulting in cable failure.


Since the mid-1980s, TR-XLP has become the dominant insulation

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(https://www.borderstates.com/Catalog/14/1470/147005/14700505) in utility distribution cable


applications primarily due to lower first-cost and lower operating losses. TR-XLP compound

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continues to be improved and is provided by many cable manufacturers in the United States
and the rest of the world.
TRXLPE compounds are rated 90C for normal operation, 130C for emergency operation and

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250C short circuit.

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EPR

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The first versions of EPR (ethylene propylene rubber-insulated), introduced in the early 1960s,
demonstrated favorable characteristics that were quickly recognized by cable manufacturers. It

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presented weathering stability, heat resistance up to 160C, low temperature flexibility, and it
was easily extruded.

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10/24/2016

Whats the Difference between EPR and TR-XLP Cable? - Border States

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Over the years, EPR insulation has become the standard insulation for most industrial
applications, and in the last 20 years has become more popular with electric utility applications

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in network cables, substation underground feeder cables, and distribution cables because of its
long-term reliability and strong performance over a 50-year period.

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Generally, EPR insulations retain their break-down (dielectric) strength in service over the life
of the installation, given proper storage and handling of the cable prior to installation of the
cable. The superior flexibility of the EPR-insulated medium voltage cable is an important factor

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in larger (kcmil-sizes) as those cables must be trained and coiled in vaults and other
enclosures. The linemen expend less effort, reducing risk of muscle strains. This insulation

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has a solid history of reliability, superior flexibility, and strong performance in wet applications,
as well as improved flame retardancy over TR-XLP insulations.

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EPR compounds are rated 105C for normal operation, 140C for emergency operation and
250C short circuit.

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Losses
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The modern electrical distribution system has many contributors to electrical losses such as
transformers, service conductors, arresters, secondary conductors and primary conductors.

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Dielectric losses occur in both TR-XLP and EPR compounds and it is well documented that
EPR has significantly higher losses than TRXLP insulation. Decisions on the insulation type to
be used should not be based on a single attribute.

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Additional Improvements to Cable Design

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Other key developments that improved cable life have been the use of strand-fill, where a
conductive elastomer (rubber) is pumped within the wires of the conductor, minimizing the

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effect of water at the most critical point between the conductor and the conductor shield.
Another significant development was the almost universal adoption of Linear Low Density

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Polyethylene (LLDPE) encapsulating jackets, which surround the concentric neutrals, providing
another barrier to water, but more importantly adding another layer of tough, physical protection

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to guard against handling and installation damage prior to installation by the utility.
Regardless of the insulation type specified on medium voltage cable; proper handling, storage,

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correctly-sized accessories, proper stripping tools, and safe work practices ensure a
successful installation and help promote a long service life of the installation. We also
encourage the use of solid conductors, strand-fill in stranded wire and the use of LLDPE

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encapsulating jackets to ensure maximum cable performance.

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10/24/2016

Whats the Difference between EPR and TR-XLP Cable? - Border States

Medium Voltage Cable Specifications

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The specifications that govern the manufacturing of medium voltage underground cables are

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AEIC CS8-13 and the latest versions of ANSI/ICEA S-94-649 Standard for Concentric Neutral
Cables Rate 5 through 46kV and S-97-682 Standard for Utility Shielded Power Cables Rated 5

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Through 46kV.
These standards emphasize performance-based requirements for the materials used in

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manufacture of cable and for the finished product. These specifications are applicable to TRXLP (tree-retardant cross-linked polyethylene) and EPR (ethylene propylene rubber) and do not
endorse one insulation compound over another.

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The AEIC CS8-13 (http://aeic.org/committees/cable-engineering/cable-specifications-3/)


specification states the following:

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This specification provides the method of ensuring that cable is manufactured in a manner
that gives the life that the utility expects at a reasonable cost while providing the safety that is

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required in a utilitys electrical system.

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We encourage all utilities to follow the AEIC and ANSI/ICEA specifications


(http://www.southwire.com/support/ANSIStandards.htm) when creating their cable
specifications. Call your Border States account manager or one of our utility applications

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engineers for further assistance (1.866.483.7289).

As always, Border States provides industry information in its weekly


blog recap newsletter. Sign up today to receive the latest information

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for the construction, industrial and utility industries.

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