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Current Carrying Capacity

T o achieve maximum economy in first cost and subsequent operation of cables, an important aspect is the selection of the optimum size of conductor. Several factors are involved in this and whilst the continuous current carrying capacity is paramount, other factors such as voltage drop, cost of losses and ability to carry short-circuit currents must not be neglected. In this chapter on current rating aspects, particular emphasis is placed on data concerning supply distribution cables but the principles are equally applicable to general wiring and transmission cables. F o r the latter, however, other more specialised features arise and further information is given in chapter 34. For reasons which are discussed later, the most convenient way to establish a rating for a particular cable design is to calculate an amperage which can be carried continuously (often called a sustained rating) under prescribed standard conditions. Appropriate factors may then be applied to cater for the actual installation conditions and mode of operation.

AVAILABILITY OF P U B L I S H E D R A T I N G S As is usual with most cable matters, the basic source of reference is an IEC specification and IEC287, 'Electric Cables - Calculation of the current rating', provides in great detail the theory and mathematical treatment for most situations. I E C 2 8 7 has been divided into a number of parts so that more complex calculations, for particular conditions, can be included as separate sections. The three basic parts are: IEC 287-1-1 which deals with the calculation of losses and contains the current rating equations; IEC287-2-1 which covers thermal resistance; and IEC287-3-1 which gives reference conditions for various countries. IEC 287-1-2 covers eddy current losses for two circuits and a section dealing with current sharing and circulating current losses in parallel cables will follow. IEC 287-2-2 and IEC 287-3-2 are re-issues of IEC 1042 and IEC 1059 which covered factors for groups of cables in air and the selection of cable size from economic considerations respectively. IEC 364, 'Electrical installations of buildings', Part 5: section 523, gives tabulated ratings for standard cable designs up to 1000V 121


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(unarmoured only) under standard conditions. For other types of cable and installation it is necessary to look elsewhere but all recognised publications provide figures which are deduced substantially in accordance with IEC 287. Two of the important parameters in establishing ratings for standard operating conditions for particular installations are the ambient temperature and the permissible temperature rise. Therefore in selecting or comparing figures from published sources it is important to take account of the temperature in assessing the information provided. The most commonly used sources of tabulated ratings are as follows. (a) The Institution of Electrical Engineers in the UK publishes BS7671: 1992, 'Requirements for electrical installations' (lEE Wiring Regulations) and this contains tables for most standard cable types up to 1000V, including mineral insulated. The tabulated ratings are for cables 'in air', i.e. not buried, and are calculated for a base ambient temperature of 30C. In the case of general supply distribution cables most other published ratings are based on an ambient temperature of 25C, and hence a greater permissible temperature rise. When corrected to any specific ambient temperature there is alignment with IEC 287. (b) Since the very early years of cable utilisation, the Electrical Research Association in the UK (now ERA Technology Ltd) has specialised in methods of calculation and practical work for verification. It has become a recognised authority and many reports of its work have been published (see Bibliography). Report ERA 69-30 provides ratings in Part 1 for paper insulated cables up to 33 kV, in Part 2 for 600/ 1000 V Consac cables, in Part 3 for PVC insulated cables up to 3.3 kV, in Part 5 for armoured cables with thermosetting insulation to BS5467: 1989. Ratings for multilayer groups of cables to BS 6346:1989 and BS 5467:1989 on trays are covered in Part 6 and Part 7 respectively. Parts 8 and 9 set out a method for determining ratings for mixed groups of cables, carrying mixed loads, in steel trunking. Part 7 covers PVC insulated cables to BS6004:1995 and Part 8 covers cables with thermosetting insulation to BS7211: 1994. ERA Report 69-30 Part 4 sets out a method of calculating cyclic ratings for buried cables up to 19/33 kV. (c) Most cable manufacturers issue catalogues which contain ratings for the cables which they supply. (d) Other sources exist for more specialised installations. Cables for ships are based on an ambient temperature of 45C with somewhat lower maximum temperatures for continuous operation than permitted elsewhere. Ratings are provided in the lEE 'Regulations for the electrical and electronic equipment of ships' and IEC 92-352 'Electrical installations in ships'. (e) While all the above references apply generally throughout the world, the types of cable and systems involved with USA practice are slightly different and reference should be made to NEMA/ICEA publications such as ICEA P53-426/NEMA WC50-1976, which contains details for XLPE/EPR insulated cables from 15 to 69 kV, or the National Electrical Code published by the National Fire Protection Association. Another different feature of American practice is that the published data allow for limited periods of emergency overload for a specific number of hours per year to a higher cable temperature. Whilst it is recognised that such operation could have an effect on the life of a cable, the conditions are chosen to ensure that only limited ageing is likely to occur. International practice may well move in this direction in the future.

Current Carrying Capacity


The above sources generally contain ratings for individual cable types and sizes installed under specified conditions in air, in buried ducts and buried directly in the ground. The use o f multiplying factors for variations in the conditions is discussed in a later section.

T Y P I C A L VALUES O F S U S T A I N E D R A T I N G S U N D E R STANDARD C O N D I T I O N S Tables in the appendices contain sustained ratings and other data such as a.c. resistance at maximum operating temperature as required for rating calculations. The ratings conform to the principles of IEC 287 and are for cables in air and cables directly buried in the ground. Relevant installation and operating conditions for each table are given. The types of cable covered are essentially those to British Standards, or otherwise o f recognised designs as used in the UK.

GENERAL BASIS OF RATING DETERMINATION During service operation, cables suffer electrical losses which appear as heat in the conductor, insulation and metallic components. The current rating is dependent on the way this heat is transmitted to the cable surface and then dissipated to the surroundings. Temperature is clearly an important factor and is expressed as a conductor temperature to establish a datum for the cable itself. A maximum temperature is fixed which is commonly the limit for the insulation material, without undue ageing, for a reasonable maximum life. Then, by choosing a base ambient temperature for the surroundings, a permissible temperature rise is available from which a maximum cable rating can be calculated for a particular environment. Under steady state conditions the difference between the conductor temperature and the external ground or ambient temperature is related to the total heat losses and the law of heat flow is very similar to Ohm's law. Heat flow corresponds to current, temperature


Temperature difference Conductor Metal heath Armour


Cable surface

Ground surface I



r~ Heat inpul

Fig. 8.1 Circuit diagram to represent heat generated in a 3-core metal sheathed cable


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~ ~


It I t I IIi I /


" / //i

/ I I

/ i/ /

// i /

/ i/



\ X %\11 ~ \ %'~ ,iJ~|

IIi II iii/

/I// I i /




x "%, ~x~'\~,",~, ~

/ / / / /~




x - . " - .x . -~.x - ." - . .\ - ~







i /



Fig. 8.2 Heat flow from a circuit of single-core cables installed in trefoil difference to voltage and the total thermal resistance in the cable and surroundings to electrical resistance. Using this analogy it is possible to construct a circuit diagram as illustrated in fig. 8.1. This shows how the heat generated at several positions has to flow through a number of layers of different thermal resistances. By measuring values for the materials, rating calculations can then be made. Thermal resistivity is defined as the difference in temperature in kelvins between opposite faces of a metre cube of material caused by the transference of 1 watt of heat - hence the units K m/W. The heat flow within a cable is radial but externally it is not so and allowance must be made for the method of installation. Figure 8.2, which shows the pattern of heat flow for three buried single-core cables, illustrates the importance of making allowance for the depth of burial and could be extended to show the effects of other cables in close proximity. Mathematical treatment is most conveniently expressed for steady state conditions, i.e. for continuous (sustained) ratings. A small cable in air will heat up very quickly to a steady state condition but a large buried power cable may take very many hours. Hence for most types of operation for supply distribution cables laid direct, the continuous ratings may be conservative and allowance can be made for cyclic operation as discussed later. MATHEMATICAL TREATMENT The temperature rise in the cable is due to the heat generated in the conductors (I2R), in the insulation (W) and in the sheath and armour (AI2R), with allowance being made by multiplying each of these by the thermal resistance of the layers through which the heat flows (T). More detailed derivation of these components is discussed in the next section but the following formula shows how they can be used for calculation purposes for a.c. cables:

AO = (I2R + Wd)TI + [I2R(1 + )q) + Wd]nT2

+ [I2R(1 + A1 + A2) + Wa]n(T3 + T4) where (8.1)

A0 = conductor temperature rise (K) I = current flowing in one conductor (A) R =alternating current resistance per unit length of the conductor at maximum operating temperature (Q/m)

Current Carrying Capacity


Wd =dielectric loss per unit length for the insulation surrounding the conductor (W/m) Tl = thermal resistance per unit length between one conductor and the sheath (K m/W) 7'2 = thermal resistance per unit length of the bedding between sheath and armour (K m/W) T3 = thermal resistance per unit length of the external serving of the cable (Km/W) T4 = thermal resistance per unit length between the cable surface and the surrounding medium (K m/W) n = number of load-carrying conductors in the cable (conductors of equal size and carrying the same load) )~1 = ratio of losses in the metal sheath to total losses in all conductors in that cable ratio of losses in the armouring to total losses in all conductors in that cable
This formula may be rewritten as follows to obtain the permissible current rating:

/xo - Wd[Tl + n(7"2 + T3 + 7"4)]

I = RT 1


-~- n--~l V ~

--~---n~-I --~ ~-1 -~ ,~2~3 -~- r4 ) .

In using this formula account needs to be taken of the fact that it only provides ratings for the prescribed representative conditions. It does not allow for heat generation from any other source, such as other cables in close proximity, or from exposure to direct solar radiation. More detailed treatment for the latter is given in IEC 287. In the case of 1 kV 4-core cables, n may be assumed to be 3 if the fourth conductor is neutral or is a protective conductor. This assumes that the neutral conductor is not carrying currents which are due to the presence of harmonics. Where triple harmonic currents, particularly the third harmonic, are present in a system they do not cancel in the neutral. This means that all four conductors will be loaded and measurements have shown that the current in the neutral conductor may be higher than the 50 Hz current in the phase conductors. For d.c. cables some of the losses are not applicable and for up to 5 kV formula (8.2) may be simplified to

I =

R'T~ + nR'T2 + nR'(T3 + T4


R l = d . c . resistance per unit length of the conductor at maximum operating temperature (rUm)

CALCULATION OF LOSSES Conductor resistance It must be noted that R in the formula is the resistance at the maximum operating temperature and for a.c. operation allowance must be made for skin and proximity effects.


Electric Cables H a n d b o o k

The d.c. resistance (f~/km) at temperature 0 is R' = R20[1 + c~20(0 - 20)] (8.4)

Values for R20 are given in appendix A4. The temperature coefficient per degree Celsius at 20C (c~20) for copper is 0.00393 and for aluminium is 0.00403. Reference to values for 0 is made in the next section. The a.c. resistance at temperature 0 is R = R'(1 + Ys + Yp) where Ys = the skin factor yp = the proximity effect factor (f~/km) (8.5)

At power frequencies of 50-60 Hz the skin effect factor is small for conductors smaller than about 150 mm 2. Above this size it may be taken as
Xs 4

Ys -- 192 + 0.8Xs 4 Xs2 = --~fx 10-7ks where f = supply frequency (Hz) ks = a constant for cable type (see IEC 287)

(8.6) (8.7)

These formulae are accurate provided that xs does not exceed 2.8. Proximity effects are due to mutual effects between the main cable conductors themselves plus inductive currents in any metallic sheath and eddy currents in both metallic sheaths and armour. They can be neglected for small conductor sizes at power frequencies. If detailed calculation is necessary reference should be made to IEC287, but for standard cables figures for the total effective a.c. resistance at maximum operating temperature are included in the tables in the appendices.


losses in a.c.


The dielectric loss in each phase is

Wd = w C U o 2 tan 6




w = 27rf (I/s) in which f is frequency (Hz) (s = second) C-- capacitance (F/m)

Values for tan 6 are given in table 8.1. The capacitance for cables with circular conductors (F/m) is given by the formula below and this may also be applied for oval conductors if the geometric mean diameter is used:
C --

18 logo(Dido)

10 - 9


Current Carrying Capacity

Table 8.1 Nominal values for relative permittivity and loss factor Type of cable Solid type paper insulated Fluid-filled paper up to U0 = 36 kV up to U0 = 8 7 k V up to U0 = 160 kV up to U0 = 220 kV Fluid-pressure, pipe type/paper External gas pressure/paper Internal gas pressure/paper Butyl rubber EPR up to 18/30 (36) kV above 18/30 (36) kV PVC PE (HD and LD) XLPE up to and including 18/30 (36) kV (unfilled) above 18/30 (36) kV (unfilled) above 18/30 (36) kV (filled) Permittivity 4 3.6 3.6 3.5 3.5 3.7 3.6 3.4 4 3 3 8 2.3 2.5 2.5 3 tan 6 0.01 0.0035 0.0033 0.003 0.0028 0.0045 0.004 0.0045 0.05 0.02 0.005 0.1 0.001 0.004 0.001 0.005



c = relative permittivity o f insulation (table 8.1) Di --external diameter of insulation excluding screen (mm) d c = diameter o f conductor including screen (mm)

It is not usually necessary to calculate the capacitance for cables with shaped conductors because they are only used in cables for which dielectric losses m a y be neglected, i.e. for values of U0 below 38 kV for paper cables, 18 kV for butyl rubber, 63.5 kV for EPR, 6 kV for PVC, 127 kV for PE, 63.5 kV for filled X L P E and 127 kV for unfilled XLPE.

Losses in metal sheaths and armour (a.c. cables)

In multicore cables, sheath and a r m o u r losses m a y m a k e some contribution to total losses but the effects are not of very great significance. However, with single-core cables the situation is very different and substantial losses m a y result from circulating currents and eddy currents in the sheaths and non-magnetic armour. Eddy current losses m a y be ignored when cables are bonded at both ends. Sheath circulating currents are of particular importance but losses can be reduced to zero by single-point bonding or by carrying out cross-bonding of the sheaths as described in chapter 34. Allowance still has to be made for eddy current losses. Equations for calculations of all the losses relating to sheaths and a r m o u r are available but because of the m a n y different possible combinations of circumstances they are difficult to summarise concisely and reference should be made to I E C 2 8 7 which contains full details. Similar remarks apply to magnetic a r m o u r on single-core cables and in this case the effect on rating is so great that it is seldom possible to use such armour. N o n - m a g n e t i c aluminium or bronze is normally adopted and the losses are then m u c h lower, but allowance still has to be made for circulating and eddy currents.


Electric Cables Handbook

T a b l e 8.2 Thermal resistivities of materials


Thermal resistivity (K m/W)

Paper (varies with cable type) PE and XLPE PVC - up to and including 3 kV - over 3 kV EPR - up to and including 3 kV - over 3 kV Butyl rubber and natural rubber 5.0-6.0 3.5 5.0 6.0 3.5 5.0 5.0 6.0 5.5 5.0 6.0 3.5 1.0 4.8 2.0 1.2 6.0 3.5

Protective coverings
Compounded jute and fibrous materials PCP PVC - up to and including 35 kV cables - over 35 kV cables PE

Materials for ducts

Concrete Fibre Asbestos Earthenware PVC PE

CALCULATION OF THERMAL RESISTANCES In order to use equation (8.2) it is necessary to calculate the thermal resistances of the different parts of the cable (Ti, T2 and T3). Representative values for the resistivity o f the individual materials used in cables are included in I E C 287, of which table 8.2 is a summary. In making calculations, the thermal resistance o f metallic layers such as screens or sheaths is ignored but the semiconducting screens are considered to be part of the insulation. With cables which have corrugated metallic sheaths, the thickness of insulation is based on the mean internal diameter of the sheath.
Thermal resistance between one conductor and sheath (T1)

The equations for various cable constructions are outlined below, I E C 2 8 7 contains further information, including data for the geometric factor G and an additional screening factor which is necessary for screened cables.

Single-core cables

Tl =

IOge 1 + ~-cJ

( 2t,


Current Carrying Capacity



p~ = thermal resistivity of insulation (K m/W) d c = diameter of conductor (mm) tl = thickness of insulation, conductor to sheath (mm)

Multicore belted cables

P~ T1 = ~-~ G


where G is a geometric factor from IEC 287.

Multicore screened cables
P~ Tl = ~ G x screening factor


SL and SA type cables These are treated as single-core cables.

Thermal resistance between sheath and armour (/'2)

Single-core and multieore cables

T2 = ~~ lg e 1 Ds,] where t2 = thickness of bedding (ram) Ds = external diameter of sheath (mm)



SL and SA type cables

Pr r2=~ G I


where G' is a geometric factor from IEC 287.

Thermal resistance of outer coverings (T3)

7"3=~1og~ where



t3 =thickness of outer covering (mm) D~a = external diameter of armour (ram)

For corrugated sheaths reference should be made to IEC 287.

External thermal resistance in free air (T4)

Assuming protection from solar radiation,

1 T4 -- 7rDeh(AOs)l/4


130 where

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De ---external diameter o f cable (mm) h ---heat dissipation coefficient from IEC 287 A0s ----excess of surface temperature above ambient (K)

Because A0s is a function of the heat generated by the cable, which is proportional to the current rating, the calculation of 7"4 for cables in air has to be an iterative process. Allowance can be made for exposure to solar radiation and details are given in IEC 287.

External thermal resistance for buried cables (T4)

Single isolated buried cables

T4 : ~ loge[~ + Pr where pr # L De = : = =

(~2 -- 1) I/2]


the thermal resistivity of the soil (K m/W) 2L/De distance from ground surface to cable axis (mm) external diameter o f the cable (mm)

IEC 287 contains further information for groups of cables, touching and non-touching, with equal and unequal loading, together with a reference to unfilled troughs at surface level. The range o f values for soil thermal resistivity is given later, and the subject is o f considerable importance, particularly for transmission cables. For cables in buried troughs careful attention must be given to the filling medium and the value o f resistivity selected.

Cables in buried ducts (T4) In this case T4 is the sum of the thermal resistance o f the air space between cable and duct (T~), the thermal resistance of the duct itself (T~) and the external thermal resistance (T~').

Thermal resistance o f air space (T~4) F o r cable diameters of 25 to 100mm

U T~ = 1 + 0 . 1 ( V + YOrn)De where U, V and Y are constants for various types o f duct (IEC 187) De = external diameter of cable (mm) 0m --- mean temperature of the air space (C)


Thermal resistance of the duct ( T ~)

loge (8.19)

Current Carrying Capacity

where Do = outside diameter of duct (mm) Dd : inside diameter of duct (mm) p~ = thermal resistivity of duct material as given in table 8.2 ( K m / W )


Thermal resistance of the external medium ( T ~') In general this is treated as though the duct represents a cable in equation (8.17). If the ducts are surrounded by concrete, allowance has to be made for the composite surrounding of concrete and soil.

IMPORTANT PARAMETERS WHICH AFFECT RATINGS The main factors which have effects on ratings may be split into a number of groups as follows.

Primarily it is the temperature rise which is important but this is governed by the base ambient temperature for the given cable location and the maximum temperature applicable to the insulation and cable construction. This is discussed in the next section.

Cable design
Apart from the temperature limit, the other effect of cable design is the ability to transfer heat from the conductors to the outer surface. This varies with the materials used and the number of layers in the construction. Details have been given in the sections on mathematical treatment.

Conditions of installation
On the whole, a cable in air can dissipate heat better than a cable in the ground but in this respect the cable diameter, or more particularly the surface area, is important. Up to a certain size cables in air have a lower rating than buried cables and when cables are buried the rating decreases with depth of burial. Further details are given in a later section.

Effects of neighbouring cables

Any other heat input from hot pipes or other cables in the vicinity has to be taken into account. In the case of other cables, allowances can usually be made by the use o f correction factors, as discussed later, and reference may be made to IEC 287 for the basis of calculation.

Correction factors for deviation from standard conditions

In addition to the above there are many other conditions such as ambient temperature, etc. for which rating correction factors can be applied and these are given later.


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Table 8.3 Ambient air and ground temperature (C)

Climate Air temperature Ground temperature (at 1m depth) Minimum 25 15 10 Maximum 40 30 20

Minimum Tropical Subtropical Temperate 25 10 0

Maximum 55 40 25


Ambient temperature
Representative average ambient temperatures may vary within any individual country, e.g. according to whether the cables are buried or in air outdoors or within a building, and between countries according to the geographical climate. For convenience, the normal tabulated ratings in the UK are based on 15C for cables in the ground, 25C outdoors in air, 30C in air within buildings and 45C for conditions in ships. For guidance purposes IEC 287 has made an attempt to provide representative average values for other countries. These are included in table 8.3 which illustrates the general overall range throughout the world and table 8.4 which aims to provide data for individual countries. Table 8.4 is only very approximate, however, and subject to many variations. In using information from these tables several points must be kept in mind. Cable ratings must be applicable for the worst conditions throughout the year and hence for the highest temperatures. Minimum temperatures are only of interest if specific winter ratings are being considered. Also many countries have important differences in climate across the country. Although different countries quote different values of soil resistivity for calculation purposes it is important to investigate the conditions for the individual cable circuit. It will be apparent from table 8.3 that the rating penalty, when referred to permissible temperature rise, is very high for cables at high ambient temperatures. There is clearly a considerable advantage in using a type of insulation which can sustain a high operating temperature, e.g. XLPE at 90C instead of solid type paper cable at 33 kV with a temperature of 65C.

Maximum cable operating temperature

Maximum cable operating temperatures according to insulation material, cable design and voltage have been agreed in IEC and the standard values are almost universally accepted throughout the world for continuous operation (table 8.5). In using these values an important proviso is that attention must be given to soil resistivity. Continuous operation at cable surface temperatures above 50C will cause movement of moisture away from the cables and, with many types of cable, drying out of the backfill may occur and the cable could exceed the permissible temperature. Taken at face value, the figures in table 8.5 indicate a major advantage for the materials which can be operated at high temperature but it must be remembered that

Current Carrying Capacity

Table 8.4 Representative conditions for various countries Country Ambient air temperature (C) 40 summer 30 winter Ambient ground temperature (C) 25 summer 18 winter 1.2 Soil thermal resistivity (Km/W)


Depth of burial (mm)

below 11 kV 11 kV 33 kV and above

500-750 800 1000 20 average 20 average 20 average 20 average 40 maximum - 4 0 minimum 20 maximum 20 maximum 20 maximum 20 maximum 20 maximum - 5 minimum 0.7 0.7 0.7 1.0 1.2 ref a 1100 900 1100 25 ref a ( - 2 0 to 35) 15 maximum 0 minimum 1.0 ref a 700 1000 1300 1500 30 summer 20 winter 30 maximum ( - 2 0 to +20 average) 20 summer 10 winter 20 maximum 0 minimum 1.2 summer 0.85 winter 1.0 700 ref a 1200 30 ref a (0-30) 20 ref a 5 minimum 1.0 maximum 800 1000 1200 1500 1800 2200 40 summer 30 winter 25 summer 15 winter 1.0 average 1200 1500 700 800 1000 1200

1 kV 3-6 kV 10 kV pressure

paper to 69 kV polymeric to 46 kV pressure

below 36kV 36-52kV 52-123 kV 123-245 kV

France Germany
below 20 kV above 60 kV

below 12 kV 12-17.5 kV 17.5-24 kV 24-36 kV 36-72 kV 72-220 kV

up to 33 kV pressure


134 Table 8.4 continued Country

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Ambient air temperature (C) 20 average

Ambient ground temperature (C) 15 average

Soil thermal resistivity (K m/W) 0.5-0.8

Depth of burial (ram)

The Netherlands
up to 10kV over 10kV

(-5 to 30)

700 1000

up to 1 kV 1-15 kV over 15 kV

25 ref ~

20 ref ~

1.0 700 800 1000

up to 52 kV pressure

15 maximum 0 minimum

1.0 ref a 700 1000-1500

Switzerland UK
I kV 3.3-33 kV pressure

25 ref a 25 outdoors 30 buildings

20 ref a 15

1.0 ref a 1.2 ref a


500 800 900 40 ref a 20 0.9 ref a 900


a ref signifies reference value for rating purposes

Table 8.5 Conductor temperature limits for standard cable types Insulation Cable design Maximum conductor temperature (C)

Impregnated paper (Uo/U) 0.6/1, 1.8/3, 3.6/6 6/10 6/10, 8.7/15 12/20, 18/30 MIND Polyvinyl chloride Polyethylene Butyl rubber Ethylene-propylene rubber Crosslinked polyethylene Natural rubber

Belted Belted Screened Screened All All All All All All

80 65 70 65 70 70 85 90 90 60

Current Carrying Capacity


there are other factors involved in the choice of cable size. For cables in buildings in the UK (base ambient temperature of 30C) the permissible temperature rise for XLPE is 60C, compared with 40C for PVC. However, in such installations it is often voltage drop which is the determining factor. Furthermore, the extra cost of electrical losses due to increase in conductor resistance may not be insignificant with relatively continuous operation.

EFFECT OF INSTALLATION CONDITIONS ON RATINGS Reference has already been made to a conductor size effect in rating differences between installation in air and in the ground, this being associated with the cable surface area. Some other aspects arising are covered below. Depth of burial The depth of laying is governed primarily by what is considered to be the most advisable to minimise effects of damage and generally increases with cable voltage. Values adopted in various countries have been given in table 8.4. An equation covering the effect on rating has already been quoted and for most purposes the thermal resistance of the soil may be simplified to

T4 = ~ loge (4~ee) P~
where pT = soil thermal resistivity (K m/W) L = depth of burial to cable axis (mm) De = cable external diameter (mm)


In this formula variations of Pr may be extremely important but variations of laying depth have less effect. As the depth increases the maximum ambient ground temperature decreases and also the moisture content increases, so that this improves the soil resistivity. Therefore for conditions where the temperature can be taken as 15C and pr is around 1.2 K m/W, it is only with transmission cables that much account need be taken of depth of laying, and with these cables the subject of external thermal resistance has to be thoroughly evaluated anyway because of the need to select appropriate backfill. Thermal resistivity of the soil Provided that it is possible to arrive at a reasonably representative value, it is not normally necessary with supply distribution cables to devote much attention to soil thermal resistivity, unless because of fully continuous operation there is a danger of the soil drying out. The presence of moisture has a predominant effect on the resistivity of any type of soil and so it is necessary to take the weather conditions into account. IEC 287 gives guidance as indicated in table 8.6 and ignores the make-up of particular ground types. However, the steps quoted are rather broad and certainly for transmission cables greater precision is necessary.


Electric Cables Handbook

Table 8.6 Soil thermal resistivities Thermal resistivity (K m/W) 0.7 1.0 2.0 3.0 Soil conditions Very moist Moist Dry Very dry Weather conditions Continuously moist Regular rainfall Seldom rains Little or no rain

At one time it was c o m m o n to take direct measurements using a needle-probe technique but such results are very difficult to interpret because judgement is necessary on whether the moisture content at the time of measurement is representative and because the resistivity is strongly dependent on the a m o u n t o f compaction; this can be changed when the probe is inserted and the soil put back round the cable will be in a different condition. It is better, therefore, to a d o p t a more empirical a p p r o a c h according to whether the cable operating conditions will or will not cause drying out of the soil. I E C 287 gives a method for calculating the current rating by which drying out of the soil can be avoided and a method for calculating the effect of partial drying out on the cable rating. I f drying out is not a problem, as with nearly all distribution cable installations, the question is the likely moisture content. In some cases it will be known that the ground will remain wet or fairly moist and in these situations it is reasonable to a d o p t 0.8-1.0 K m/W. In the more general case where soils are not always moist but the texture is of an average clay or loam type, a good representative figure is 1.2 K m/W. In the U K this is usually taken as a standard value for the preparation of tabulated ratings. The situation is more difficult if the soil consists o f sand, shingle or m a d e - u p ground, i.e. with a large air-space content after water has drained away. I f such drainage can occur during some months of the year the value used should be between 2.0 and 3.0 according to circumstances. Guidance is given in E R A Report 69-30: Part 1 on the following lines.

Type A - cables carrying constant load throughout the year

Whether the load is sustained or cyclic, allowance needs to be made for m a x i m u m values of soil resistivity which m a y occur in some years only and for relatively short periods in summer and autumn. Values recommended are as follows: All soils except those below Chalk soil with crushed chalk backfill Peat Very stony soil or ballast Well-drained sand Made-up soils

1.5 K m/W 1.2 K m / W 1.2 K m / W 1.5 K m / W 2.5Km/W 1.8 K m / W

The value for the 'all soils' category m a y be reduced to 1.2 if the soil is under impermeable cover such as asphalt or concrete.

Current Carrying Capacity

Type B - cables with varying l o a d and m a x i m u m in s u m m e r


If the load is mixed, advantage may be taken of the fact that in all probability the maximum load in summer will not coincide with the dry periods. During the summer periods, recommended values are as follows: All soils except those below Stony soils or ballast Well-drained sand Made-up soils 1.2 K m/W 1.3 K m/W 2.0 K m/W 1.6 K m/W

The value for the 'all soils' category may be reduced to 1.0 if the soil is under impermeable cover and assumes that in chalky ground the backfill is crushed.

Type C - cables with varying load and m a x i m u m in winter

For the winter period it is safe to use rather lower values: All soils except those below Clay Chalk soil with crushed chalk backfill Well-drained sand Made-up soil
1.0 K m/W 0.9Km/W 1.2 K m/W 1.5 K m/W 1.2 K m/W

The value for clay soils may be reduced to 0.8 if the soil is under impermeable cover. The drying out of soil is quite a complex subject because, in addition to the cable temperature and natural drainage, drying is also caused by tree roots and natural vegetation. A solid cover on the surface, e.g. asphalt or concrete, restricts drying out. As already mentioned, a cable surface temperature of 50C is sufficient to lead to progressive drying out, and if the soil is well drained, e.g. sandy, drying out can occur at an even lower temperature. The most favourable dried out natural soil and sands are unlikely to have a thermal resistivity lower than 2.0 K m/W and values of 2.5-3.0 K m/W are probable. To obtain optimum cable rating in situations where drying out is possible, it is now general practice to surround the cable with imported material of known properties. Such material is usually known as thermal or stabilised backfill and the key to successful formulation is minimum air space together with good compaction. These materials are always designed to have a good thermal resistivity when dry and measurement of the dry density at a defined compaction provides a reasonable means of evaluation. Nowadays they fall into two groups: one in which there is control of particle sizes and another using a weak mix of cement. The dry mixture is composed of blends of shingle and sand each having a wide range of particle sizes with the object of obtaining very good packing. The alternative material, now more widely used, is a 20:1 ratio of suitable mixed particle size sand and cement with optimum water content. Further details of the importance of the use of controlled backfill material are given in chapter 34.

STANDARD OPERATING CONDITIONS AND RATING FACTORS FOR SUPPLY DISTRIBUTION CABLES The standard conditions for the ratings given in the tables in the appendices are included with the tables and in general are as given below.


Electric Cables Handbook

The standard conditions, and particularly the rating factors, vary with the cable design and the operating parameters. The data given apply primarily to supply distribution cables and are averages for such cables. They m a y be taken as a general guide for wiring type cables but some special c o m m e n t s on wiring type cables are given in a later section. In the case of transmission cables it is not possible to obtain sufficient accuracy by the use o f rating factors and the rating for each installation needs to be calculated directly.
Cables installed in air

Standard conditions
(a) Ambient air temperature is taken to be 25C for p a p e r insulated cables and for X L P E insulated cables above 1.9/3.3 kV. 30C is chosen for PVC insulated cables and for X L P E cables of 1.9/3.3 kV and below in order to be in conformity with the l E E Wiring Regulations. (b) Air circulation is not restricted significantly, e.g. if cables are fastened to a wall they should be spaced at least 20 m m from it. (c) Adjacent circuits are spaced at least 150 m m apart and suitable disposed to prevent mutual heating. (d) Cables are shielded from direct sunshine.

Rating factors for other ambient air temperatures

Factors to correct from a base of 25 or 30C to other temperatures are given in table 8.7. For the types and voltages o f p a p e r insulated cables to which the various operating temperatures apply reference should be made to table 8.5.

Group rating factors for cables in air W h e n groups of multicore power cables are installed in air it is necessary to have a sufficient air space for dissipation o f heat. N o reduction in rating is necessary provided that:
(a) the horizontal clearance between circuits is not less than twice the overall diameter of an individual cable;
Table 8.7 Rating factors for ambient temperature

Cable insulation

Maximum conductor operating temperature (C) 65 70 80 70 90 90

Ambient air temperature (C) 25 30 35 40 45 50 55

Paper Paper Paper PVC XLPE a XLPE b a Above 1.9/3.3 kV b 1.9/3.3 kV and below

1.0 1.0 1.0 1.06 1.0 1.04

0.93 0.93 0.94 1.0 0.95 1.0

0.85 0.87 0.89 0.94 0.91 0.96

0.77 0.80 0.84 0.87 0.86 0.91

0.68 0.72 0.77 0.79 0.80 0.87

0.58 0.64 0.72 0.71 0.75 0.82

0.47 0.55 0.65 0.61 0.69 0.76

Current Carrying Capacity


(b) the vertical clearance between circuits is not less than four times the diameter o f an individual cable; (c) if the number o f circuits exceeds three, they are installed in a horizontal plane. For smaller clearances reference should be made to E R A Report 74-27, 'Heat dissipation for cables in air', and ERA Report 74-28, 'Heat dissipation for cables on perforated steel trays'. Further information relative to the smaller sizes of PVC and X L P E cables, as used in buildings, is given later in this chapter.
Cables laid direct in ground

Standard conditions
(a) (b) (c) (d) Ground temperature Soil thermal resistivity Adjacent circuits Depth of laying 15C 1.2 K m/W at least 1.8 m distance 0.5 m for 1 kV cables 0.8 m for cables above 1 kV and up to 33 kV

Rating factors
Factors for ground temperature, soil thermal resistivity, grouped cables and depth o f laying are given in tables 8.8-8.12.
Cables installed in ducts

Standard conditions
(a) (b) (c) (d) Ground temperature, 15C Thermal resistivity of ground and ducts, 1.2 K m/W Adjacent circuits, at least 1.8m distance Depth of laying, 0.5m, except for paper insulated cables above I kV and up to 33 kV, for which the value is 0.8 m

Rating factors
Factors for variation of ground temperatures are the same as in table 8.8 for cables laid directly in the ground. Factors for soil thermal resistivity, groups o f cables and depth o f laying are given in tables 8.13-8.16.
Table 8.8 Rating factor for ground temperature

Cable insulation

Maximum conductor operating temperature (C) 65 70 75 70 90

Ground temperature (C) 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45

Paper Paper Paper PVC XLPE

1.05 1.04 1.04 1.04 1.03

1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0

0.95 0.95 0.96 0.95 0.97

0.89 0.90 0.92 0.90 0.93

0.84 0.85 0.88 0.85 0.89

0.77 0.80 0.83 0.80 0.85

0.71 0.74 0.78 0.74 0.81

0.63 0.67 0.73 0.67 0.77


Electric Cables Handbook

Table 8.9 Rating factors for thermal resistivity of soil (average values)

Conductor size (mm 2) 0.8 0.9

Soil thermal resistivity ( K m / W ) 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0

Single-core cables
U p to 150 From 185 to 400 From 500 to 1200 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.09 1.14 1.16 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.06 1.10 1.11 1.07 1.07 1.08 1.04 1.07 1.07 0.91 0.90 0.90 0.95 0.93 0.92 0.81 0.80 0.79 0.86 0.84 0.82 0.73 0.72 0.71 0.79 0.76 0.74 0.67 0.66 0.65 0.74 0.70 0.68

Multicore cables
Up to 16 F r o m 25 to 150 From 185 to 400

Table 8.10 Group rating factors for circuits of three single-core cables, in trefoil and laid flat

touching, horizontal formation Cable voltage (kV) Number of circuits Spacing of circuits (between centres of cable groups) Touching Trefoil Laid flat 0.80 0.68 0.63 0.58 0.56 0.80 0.69 0.63 0.58 0.55 0.81 0.70 0.65 0.60 0.57 0.82 0.72 0.67 0.63 0.60 0.81 0.71 0.65 0.61 0.58 0.81 0.71 0.65 0.60 0.57 0.88 0.79 0.75 0.72 0.70 0.85 0.76 0.72 0.68 0.66 0.85 0.76 0.72 0.68 0.66 0.90 0.83 0.81 0.78 0.77 0.88 0.80 0.76 0.73 0.72 0.88 0.80 0.76 0.73 0.72 0.93 0.87 0.85 0.83 0.82 0.90 0.83 0.80 0.77 0.76 0.90 0.83 0.80 0.77 0.76 0.15m a 0.3m 0.45m 0.6m


2 3 4 5 6 2 3 4 5 6 2 3 4 5 6

0.77 0.65 0.59 0.55 0.52 0.78 0.66 0.60 0.55 0.52 0.79 0.67 0.62 0.57 0.54

1.9/3.3 to 12.7/22


This spacing will not be possible for some of the larger diameter cables RATINGS FOR WIRING TYPE CABLES


R a t i n g s f o r the m o s t c o m m o n l y used types o f c a b l e s in the U K are given in the t a b l e s in a p p e n d i c e s A 5 - A 1 1 . S t a n d a r d c o n d i t i o n s v a r y a c c o r d i n g to c a b l e t y p e a n d a p p l i c a t i o n a n d the v a r i o u s r e l e v a n t c o n d i t i o n s a p p l i c a b l e a r e i n c l u d e d w i t h the tables. S o m e o f the m o r e i m p o r t a n t aspects are given below.

Current Carrying Capacity

Table 8.11 Group rating factors for multicore cables in horizontal formation Cable voltage (kV) Number of cables in group 2 3 4 5 6 2 3 4 5 6 2 3 4 5 6 Spacing (between cable centres) Touching 0.81 0.70 0.63 0.59 0.55 0.80 0.69 0.63 0.57 0.55 0.80 0.70 0.64 0.59 0.56 0.15 m 0.87 0.78 0.74 0.70 0.67 0.85 0.75 0.70 0.66 0.63 0.83 0.73 0.68 0.63 0.60 0.3 m 0.91 0.84 0.81 0.78 0.76 0.89 0.80 0.77 0.73 0.71 0.87 0.78 0.74 0.70 0.68 0.45 m 0.93 0.87 0.86 0.83 0.82 0.90 0.84 0.80 0.78 0.76 0.89 0.82 0.78 0.75 0.74


0.6 m 0.94 0.90 0.89 0.87 0.86 0.92 0.86 0.84 0.81 0.80 0.91 0.85 0.82 0.79 0.78


1.9/3.3 to 12.7/22


Table 8.12 Rating factors for depth of laying (to centre of cable or trefoil group of cables) Depth of laying (m) Up to 50 mm 2 0.50 0.60 0.80 1.00 1.25 1.50 1.75 2.00 2.50 3.0 or more 1.00 0.99 0.97 0.95 0.94 0.93 0.92 0.91 0.90 0.89 0.6/1 kV cables 70 mm to 300 mm 2 1.00 0.98 0.96 0.94 0.92 0.91 0.89 0.88 0.87 0.86 Above 300 mm 2 1.00 0.97 0.94 0.92 0.90 0.89 0.87 0.86 0.85 0,83 1.9/3.3 kV to 19/33 kV cables Up to 300 mm 2 1.00 0.98 0.96 0.95 0.94 0.92 0.91 0.90 Above 300 mm 2 1.00 0.97 0.95 0.94 0.92 0.90 0.89 0.88

Ambient temperature
T h e t a b u l a t e d ratings are based o n a n a m b i e n t t e m p e r a t u r e , a n d hence t e m p e r a t u r e rise, according to the p r i m a r y a p p l i c a t i o n o f the cable, e.g. 25C where n o r e g u l a t i o n s apply, 30C for cables in buildings subject to the l E E W i r i n g R e g u l a t i o n s a n d 45C for cables in ships subject to I E E R e g u l a t i o n s . W h e n a p p l y i n g t e m p e r a t u r e c o r r e c t i o n factors it is i m p o r t a n t to choose the correct factor which takes i n t o a c c o u n t the base a m b i e n t t e m p e r a t u r e a n d the m a x i m u m permissible c o n d u c t o r t e m p e r a t u r e .


Electric Cables Handbook

Table 8.13 Rating factor for soil thermal resistivity (average values) Conductor size (mm2) 0.8 0.9 Soil thermal resistivity (K m/W) 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0

Single-core cables Up to 150 185 to 400 500 to 1200 Multicore cables Up to 16 25 to 150 185 to 400

1.10 1.11 1.13 1.05 1.07 1.09

1.07 1.08 1.09 1.04 1.05 1.06

1.04 1.05 1.06 1.03 1.03 1.04

0.94 0.94 0.93 0.97 0.96 0.95

0.87 0.86 0.84 0.92 0.90 0.87

0.81 0.79 0.77 0.87 0.85 0.82

0.75 0.73 0.70 0.83 0.78 0.76

Table 8.14 Group rating factors for single-core cables in trefoil single-way
ducts, horizontal formation Cable voltage (kV) Number of circuits 2 3 4 5 6 2 3 4 5 6 2 3 4 5 6 Spacing (between duct centres) Touching 0.86 0.77 0.73 0.70 0.68 0.85 0.75 0.70 0.67 0.64 0.85 0.76 0.71 0.67 0.65 0.45 m 0.90 0.83 0.81 0.78 0.77 0.88 0.80 0.76 0.73 0.71 0.88 0.80 0.76 0.73 0.71 0.60 m 0.93 0.87 0.85 0.83 0.82 0.90 0.83 0.80 0.77 0.76 0.90 0.83 0.80 0.77 0.76


1.9/3.3 to 12.7/22


Excess current protection

The lEE Wiring Regulations require that the overload protective device should operate in conventional time at 1.45 times the current rating of the cable. As discussed in chapter 10, if the protection is by semi-enclosed rewirable fuse, which may require a current up to twice its own rating to operate it in conventional time, a cable with a higher rating, in comparison with the fuse rating, is required than for other standard protective devices.

Current Carrying Capacity


Table 8.15 Group rating factors for multicore cables in single-way ducts, horizontal formation Cable voltage (kV) Number of ducts in groups 2 3 4 5 6 2 3 4 5 6 2 3 4 5 6 Spacing (between duct centres) Touching 0.90 0.82 0.78 0.75 0.72 0.88 0.80 0.75 0.71 0.69 0.87 0.78 0.73 0.69 0.67 0.30 m 0.93 0.87 0.85 0.82 0.81 0.91 0.84 0.81 0.77 0.75 0.89 0.82 0.78 0.75 0.73 0.45 m 0.95 0.90 0.89 0.87 0.86 0.93 0.87 0.84 0.82 0.80 0.92 0.85 0.82 0.79 0.78 0.60 m 0.96 0.93 0.91 0.90 0.90 0.94 0.89 0.87 0.85 0.84 0.93 0.87 0.85 0.83 0.82


1.9/3.3 to 12.7/22


Table 8.16 Rating factors for depth of laying (to centre of duct or trefoil group of ducts) Depth of laying 0.6/1 kV cables Single-core 1.00 0.98 0.95 0.93 0.90 0.89 0.88 0.87 0.86 0.85 Multicore 1.00 0.99 0.97 0.96 0.95 0.94 0.94 0.93 0.93 0.92 1.9/3.3 to 19/33 kV cables Single-core Multicore

0.50 0.60 0.80 1.00 1.25 1.50 1.75 2.00 2.50 3.00 or more

1.00 0.98 0.95 0.93 0.92 0.90 0.89 0.88

1.00 0.99 0.97 0.96 0.95 0.94 0.93 0.92

Selection of cable size

The rating factors for ambient temperature and installation conditions are factors by which the tabulated ratings, as given in the appendices, should be multiplied in order to determine the rating under the applicable conditions. For distribution cables the procedure for determining the size of cable is often to make a first judgement of the size required, multiply its tabulated rating by any applicable factors and check the result against the circuit requirement. I f necessary, adjacent sizes are considered.


Electric Cables Handbook

For installations to the IEE Wiring Regulations, the Regulations recommend an alternative procedure. The rating of the overload protective device to be used, decided according to the circuit current, is divided by the applicable factors and the result is compared with the ratings listed in the tables to determine the cable size, i.e. the principles for wiring cables are as outlined below.
Protective device being a fuse to B S 8 8 or B S I361 or a circuit breaker to B S E N 60898: 1991 or B S E N 6 0 9 4 7 - 2 : 1 9 9 2

When the protective device is a fuse or circuit breaker to the above specifications, it is necessary to ascertain the cable rating required by one of the following methods. (a) Select a protective device rating In adequate for the design current Ib which the circuit is to carry. (b) Divide the nominal current of the protective device (In) by any applicable correction factor for ambient temperature (Ca), if this is other than 30C. (c) Further divide by any applicable correction factor for thermal insulation (Ci). (d) Divide by any applicable correction factor (Cg) for cable grouping, when such groups are liable to simultaneous overload. (See the alternative method below for groups which are not liable to simultaneous overload.) (e) The size of cable required is such that its tabulated current carrying capacity It is not less than the value of the nominal current of the protective device (In) adjusted as above, i.e. I t > In/CaCiCg.
Alternative m e t h o d f o r cable grouping when groups are not liable to simultaneous overload

Provided that the circuits of the groups are not liable to simultaneous overload, the tabulated current rating It may be calculated by the following formulae: It > ~gg and



It > (In 2 q- 0.48Ib 2 1 ~Cg2~ 1/2 __ Cg 2 j


The size of the cable required is such that its tabulated single-circuit current carrying capacity is not less than the larger of the two values of It given by equations (8.21) and (8.22). Where any further correction factor is applicable, such as for ambient temperature or thermal insulation, this must be applied as a divisor to the value of It derived by the methods indicated above in respect of the group rating factor.
Protective device being a semi-enclosed fuse to B S 3 0 3 6 : 1 9 5 2 (1992)

When the protective device is a semi-enclosed fuse to BS 3036:1952 (1992) (i.e. formerly coarse excess current protection) it is necessary to ascertain the cable rating required by one of the following methods. (a) Select a fuse In required from BS 3036:1952 (1992) adequate for the design current Ib which the circuit is to carry. (b) Divide the nominal current of the protective device (In) by any applicable correction factor for ambient temperature, if this is other than 30C (Ca).

Current Carrying Capacity


(c) Further divide by any applicable correction factor for thermal insulation (Ci). (d) Further divide by 0.725. (e) Divide by any applicable correction factor Cg for cable grouping when groups are liable to simultaneous overload. (See the alternative method for groups which are not liable to simultaneous overload.) (f) The size of cable required is such that its tabulated current carrying capacity It is not less than the value of nominal current of the protective device (In) adjusted as above, i.e. It _> In/0.725 CaCiCg. Alternative method for cable grouping when groups are not liable to simultaneous overload Provided that the circuits of the groups are not liable to simultaneous overload, the tabulated current rating It may be calculated by the following formulae: Ib and It > /~l.91n 2 + 0.48Ib 2 1 -- t-X,~g2]l/2 -Cg2 J (8.24) (8.23)

The size of the cable required is such that its tabulated single-circuit current carrying capacity is not less than the larger of the two values of It given by equations (8.23) and (8.24). Group rating factors Correction factors Cg for groups of cables are given in tables 8.17 and 8.18. With reference to the tables the following should be noted. (a) The factors are applicable to uniform groups of cables, equally loaded. (b) If, with known operating conditions, a cable is expected to carry a current of not more than 30% of its grouped rating, it may be ignored for the purpose of obtaining the rating factor for the rest of the group. For example, a group of N loaded cables would normally require a group reduction factor of Cg applied to the tabulated It. However, if M cables in the group carry loads which are not greater than 0.3Cglt amperes, the other cables can be sized by using the group rating factor corresponding to N - M cables. (c) The factors have been calculated on the basis of prolonged steady state operation at 100% load factor for all live conductors. (d) When cables with different maximum conductor operating temperatures are grouped together the current ratings for the cables with the lowest operating temperature should be used for all the cables. For example if a group contains both XLPE and PVC insulated cables the ratings for PVC cables should be applied to the XLPE cables. Thermal insulation For cable installed in a thermally insulating wall or installed above a thermally insulated ceiling and in contact with a thermally conductive surface on one side, in the absence of more precise information the rating may be taken as 0.75 times the current


Electric Cables Handbook

Table 8.17 G r o u p correction factors for cables having extruded insulation Arrangement of cables 2 Enclosed in conduit or trunking, or bunched and clipped direct Single layer clipped direct to or lying on a non-metallic surface: Touching Spaced a Single layer on a perforated metal cable tray, vertical or horizontal: Touching Spaced a Single layer touching on ladder supports

N u m b e r of circuits or multicore cables 3 0.70 4 0.65 5 0.60 6 0.57 8 0.52 10 0.48 12 0.45 14 0.43 16 0.41


0.85 0.94

0.79 0.90

0.75 0.90

0.73 0.90

0.72 0.90

0.71 0.90

. . . 0.90 0.90

. 0.90


0.86 0.91 0.86

0.81 0.89 0,82

0.77 0.88 0.80

0.75 0.87 0.79

0.74 0.87 0.78

0.73 . .

0.71 . . . .

0.70 . .

. .

Spaced means a clearance between adjacent surfaces o f at least one cable diameter De. Where the horizontal clearance between adjacent cables exceeds twice their overall diameter, no correction factor need be applied.

Table 8.18 G r o u p correction factors for mineral insulated cables on perforated tray Tray orientation Arrangement of cables Number of trays N u m b e r o f multicore cables or circuits 1 Horizontal Horizontal Vertical Vertical Horizontal Vertical Multiconductor cables touching Multiconductor cables spaced Multiconductor cables touching Multiconductor cables spaced Single conductor cables trefoil separated Single conductor cables trefoil separated 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 0.9 1 0.9 1 0.9 3 0.8 1 0.8 0.95 0.9 4 0.8 0.95 0.75 6 0.75 0.9 0.75 9 0.75 0.7 -

Current Carrying Capacity

Table 8.19 Factors for ambient temperature where semi-enclosed fuses to BS 3036 are used
Insulation 25 60C rubber 70C PVC Paper 85C rubber 90C PVC Thermoset Mineral: 70C sheath 105C sheath .04 .03 .02 .02 .03 .02 1.03 1.02 35 0.96 0.97 0.97 0.97 0.97 0.98 0.96 0.98 40 0.91 0.94 0.95 0.95 0.94 0.95 0.93 0.96 Ambient temperature (C) 45 0.87 0.91 0.92 0.93 0.91 0.93 0.89 0.93 50 0.79 0.87 0.90 0.91 0.87 0.91 0.86 0.91 55 0.56 0.84 0.87 0.88 0.84 0.89 0.79 0.89 65 75



0.48 0.76 0.83 0.76 0.85 0.42 0.84

0.43 0.58 0.68 0.69

0.49 0.39



Table 8.20 Factors for ambient temperature where the protection is a fuse to BS 88 or BS 1361 or
a circuit breaker to BS 3871 or BS 4752 Insulation 25 60C rubber 70C PVC Paper 85C rubber 90C PVC Thermoset Mineral: 70C sheath 105C sheath 1.04 1.03 1.02 1.02 1.03 1.02 1.03 1.02 35 0.91 0.94 0.95 0.95 0.97 0.96 0.93 0.96 40 0.82 0.87 0.89 0.90 0.94 0.91 0.85 0.92 Ambient temperature (C) 45 0.71 0.79 0.84 0.85 0.91 0.87 0.77 0.88 50 0.58 0.71 0.72 0.80 0.87 0.82 0.67 0.84 55 0.41 0.61 0.71 0.74 0.84 0.76 0.57 0.80 65 75 85

0.35 0.55 0.60 0.76 0.65

0.32 0.43 0.61 0.50

0.35 0.29




carrying capacity for that cable when clipped direct to a surface and unenclosed. F o r a cable likely to be totally surrounded by thermally insulating material over an appreciable length, the applicable rating factor may be as low as 0.5. F o r a cable surrounded by thermal insulation over a short length, e.g. passing through an insulated wall, advice is given in the IEE Wiring Regulations.

Rating factors CaJot ambient temperature

F o r ambient temperatures other than 30C the t a b u l a t e d rating m a y be adjusted by the temperature rating factors in tables 8.19 or 8.20 according to the type of protective device.

Wiring in ships usually has to comply with regulations such as the I E E Regulations for the Electrical and Electronic Equipment of Ships. As well as basing t a b u l a t e d ratings on


Electric Cables Handbook

an ambient temperature of 45C, to which reference has been made, there is also a specified maximum cable conductor temperature of 5C or 10C below the values given earlier in table 8.5, e.g. 85C for E P R insulated cables, cables of this type are now quite capable of operation to 90C and offshore applications in most countries are at ambient temperatures well below 45C. Much higher ratings are therefore possible for the m a n y offshore installations for which it is considered that shipwiring regulations do not apply. Tables of ratings for a number o f cable types for shipwiring and offshore installation are included in appendix A7 and details of the conditions applicable to offshore installations follow table A7.2.

S H O R T T I M E AND CYCLIC R A T I N G S It very often happens that loads are cyclic rather than sustained, m a n y cables, particularly when buried, may take up to 24 hours or even longer for the temperature to build up to the equilibrium conditions on which sustained ratings are based. Allowance may be made for this, therefore, together with the cooling period between loads, to derive a cyclic rating which will be higher than the value for sustained operation. Figure 8.3 indicates the temperature rise o f the conductor of a typical buried cable. It will be noted that the heating is exponential and hence during sustained loading the temperature change when nearing equilibrium is slow. If the loading is only at maximum for a few hours, or is at a level below maximum for a longer period, it is possible to calculate a rating to suit the circumstances. Public supply cables having daily cycles with morning and afternoon peaks represent one application where such treatment is beneficial. Another, of a different type, relates to requirements for machines where the loading may be for minutes rather than hours, e.g. arc welding. Many factors have to be taken into account in calculations for such ratings. Cable diameter in relation to the environment has a major effect, because surface area increases with diameter and if the cable is in air heat may be dissipated quickly. This is the reason, for example, that small size cables have a lower rating in air than in the ground, whereas the reverse applies for large cables. Cables in air heat up very quickly compared with buried cables. Cables so installed may therefore have an allowance for short time currents but not for cyclic loads over a 24 hour period.



2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9101112 Time (hours)

Fig. 8.3 Rate of conductor temperature rise for typical buried power cable

Current Carrying Capacity

Faulted length giving maximum load increase


Normally open Primary substation


11 kV K--

Fig. 8.4 Typical open ring system in 11 kV UK public supply distribution (Courtesy of Institution of Electrical Engineers)


Increase attributable to ~/-

Limited time Cyclic load


~300" tt~

t,.) 100"




Conductor cross-section (mm 2)

Fig. 8.5 Comparison of UK 11 kV distribution ratings and standard ratings for PILS belted cables with aluminium conductors (Courtesy of Institution of Electrical Engineers) Other factors are the type and reproducibility of the cycle, the effect of any other cables in the vicinity and the thermal resistivity of the soil. The mathematics is rather voluminous and complicated. Until the mid-1980s a standard work of reference was a report by Goldenberg ~ which uses the concept of a 'loss load factor' representative of the loading cycle. The principles advanced by Goldenberg are now set out in two IEC publications, the first2 for cables up to 30 kV and the second 3 for cables over 30 kV. A report by Gosden and Kendall4 deals specifically with ratings for 11 kV public supply distribution cables in the UK and explains the background to the utilisation of considerably higher ratings 5 than are published for sustained operation. Account is also


Electric Cables Handbook

taken of the fact that common practice is to install 11 kV cables in normally open rings (fig. 8.4). In such an operation any point in the ring is fed by two cables and each carries half the load of the ring, i.e. the cables have only 50% utilisation. In the rare occurrence of a cable fault in the ring the link is closed and the load on the cable beyond the fault is back-fed from the unfaulted cable, which thus carries an increased load until repair is completed. Compared with sustained ratings, fig. 8.5 indicates the magnitude of the improvement possible for public supply operation. This figure also includes contributions from other variations from standard conditions, i.e. a soil temperature and soil thermal resistivity (TR) that are lower than standard.


(1) Goldenberg, H. (1958) Methods for the calculation of cyclic rating factors and emergency loading for cables direct in ground or in ducts. ERA Report No. F/T 186. (2) IEC 853-1 (1985) 'Calculation of the cyclic and emergency current rating of cables', Part I, 'Cyclic rating factor for cables up to and including 30 kV'. (3) IEC 853-2 (1989) 'Calculation of the cyclic and emergency current rating of cables', Part 2, 'Cyclic rating of cables greater than 18/30(36)kV and emergency ratings for cables of all voltages'. (4) Gosden, J. H. and Kendall, P. G. (1976) 'Current rating of 11 kV cables', lEE Conf. on Distribution Cables and Jointing Techniques for Systems up to 11 kV. (5) Engineering Recommendation PI7 (1977) Current Rating Guide for Distribution Cables. London: Electricity Council.