Brett Smyth, General Manager of Ideal Industries EMEA, discusses the importance of selecting the correct lube for conduit installations.
The use of conduit is increasing in UK electrical installations, bringing us into line with common electrical sector working practices in other countries. From both a safety and service life perspective, this is good news.
There is, however, a need to protect the electrical cables as they’re pulled through the conduit during installation by selecting a lubricant with the right performance and properties.
Why is lube necessary?
The main purpose of an electrical lube is to help the cable slide easily through the conduit to avoid friction and snagging, reducing the risk of damage to the cable during installation.
Although it’s not unusual for electricians to improvise by using non-specialist products, such as washing-up liquid for example, generic products like this aren’t designed to reduce friction and snagging. They’ve not been tested for use with electrical cables either, so may also not offer the protection and compatibility required.
What to look for in an electrical lube
An electrical lubricant must be benign when in contact with the jacket material of the cable so that it protects the cable from friction or snagging and also prevents any loss of integrity for the jacket. As a wide range of jacket materials are used in cable manufacture, checking that the chosen lubricant is certified for use on the specific cable being installed is essential.
All Ideal Industries lubricants have been independently tested to IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission), CE & UL standards and are clearly labelled to enable electricians to verify compatibility. They’re also pH neutral, environmentally-safe, non-toxic, non-flammable and non-corrosive; all properties that ensure the installation is safe and avoid any long-term damage to the cable or the conduit from the lubricant.
The “clingability” of the lubricant is also essential as this determines how well the lubricant performs throughout the pull. This is particularly important for longer and more complex runs. For example, Ideal Industries’ Yellow 77 Lube, which is most commonly used for industrial and commercial installations, has enhanced clingability for tougher environments.
Ideal Yellow 77 also has the lowest co-efficient of friction of any lubricant in the Ideal Industries lube range. The lower the co-efficient of friction the more protected the cable all the way through the pull. Temperature stability is also important because performance of the lube could be affected if it’s installed outside of the recommended temperature range.
For Ideal Yellow 77, which is often used for industrial and power sector installations, the temperature range is 0˚C – 54˚C. For Ideal Industries’ Aqua-Gel lubes, a polymer-based lube alternative to wax for exterior installations, the temperature range is -2˚C – 88˚C, while Ideal Industries’ Clearglide lube, which is usually recommended for residential, office, data comms and retrofit installations, is 0˚C – 82˚C.
Ease of application and clean-up are also important considerations to prevent damage to interior finishes and the Clearglide bottle is designed to allow the lubricant to be dispensed straight into the conduit to prevent spills.
As with all electrical consumables, when it comes to selecting a lubricant, quality counts. Lubes should never been seen as a generic, commodity item.
Download the Ideal Industries EMEA lubricants catalogue by clicking here