3M’s Rachel Salisbury shares some tips to help you choose the right products during the winter months.
Apart from the obvious – wearing extra layers and keeping up levels of hot tea – there are other ways in which the UK’s electricians can improve working conditions and help to ensure that quality of work isn’t compromised during the colder months. Choosing products that are designed to withstand the winter cold and wet, both in terms of ease of installation and performance, can make a lot of difference.
For instance, while some general use PVC and vinyl tapes may be ﬁne during the warmer months, they can become brittle and crack below certain temperatures. However, there are tapes designed for both extreme cold and heat, without any signiﬁcant change in their ﬂexibility and conformability. This means that they can provide a more precise ﬁt, will not be compromised even if the temperatures plummet and are less likely to allow ingress of moisture during installation.
This is an important point to consider: outdoor work at this time of year is often wet as well as cold. Preventing moisture from getting into electrical work is always a challenge, but arguably even more so in the winter, when cold hands may ﬁnd it harder to work quickly. Plus, if resins are being used to seal a connection, pot times can be over half an hour at 5°c and full curing could be more than 24 hours, so that is a lot of time in which moisture could potentially enter the connection and cause a future failure.
“Fortunately, the latest generation of low voltage resin kits actively repel water and can withstand temperatures of minus 40°c.”
Fortunately, the latest generation of low voltage resin kits actively repel water and can withstand temperatures of minus 40°c. They also cause a thermal reaction when activated, which also helps as it is just enough to raise the temperature of the resin and make it easier to work with. Some resin products are also available in an easy-to-use dispenser, so that mixing by hand is not necessary, making some installations even easier and quicker.
Look for resin kits that comply with Cenelec HD631.1 S2 LI-W and aim to keep the material above freezing while cable preparation and other tasks are being carried out (for instance, if the temperature in the van is above freezing, that’s a good place to store the resin until it is about to be used). When a resin becomes too cold, it is extremely hard to work with; not ideal when hands are cold.
Getting the job done
Making sure that work in outdoor conditions is carried out as quickly as possible is of course something that any electrician is going to care about during cold and wet weather. Apart from tapes and resin kits that allow for faster installation, cold-applied jointing bodies for both medium and low voltage applications are always a good idea to have to hand. These remove the need for on-site gas bottles, heat work permits and are generally faster to install compared to heat shrink products, while also providing a 100% watertight ﬁt.
Working in extreme weather conditions is never fun, but by choosing products that make installation that bit faster and easier, while ensuring quality and future performance, can hopefully make winter work just that little bit more bearable.