Plenum cable: weird word, important component. Plenum cables are specially designed and rated cables to resist fire and create less smoke when burning. But in what areas should you install plenum cables, and are they really necessary for your office?
What is Plenum Space?
The first step to understanding what plenum cables are is understanding what plenum space is. Plenum space is the part of many buildings and offices, which provides circulating air space. This can be used for air conditioning and heating systems. Plenum spaces also provide the ideal area to place telephone and communication cables for a building.
However, there is one significant problem. Air is constantly flowing through plenum spaces, usually at greater than atmospheric pressure. Combine this with the rapid burn and thick black smoke created when regular cables catch fire, and fire can consume your office space in record time.
Not only that, but because cables usually run throughout then plenum spaces of your whole building or office space, regular plastic cables in plenum spaces give fire a shortcut to quickly spread throughout a whole building, with high oxygen and no fire barriers.
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What is Plenum Cable?
In response to this critical risk, plenum cable was developed. Regular plastic catches fire quickly and creates a thick, choking black smoke that is highly hazardous. Plenum cable is expertly designed with a flame retardant coating, and made of special plastic that produces less smoke when burning. Plenum cable jackets are usually composed of low-smoke PVC (polyvinyl chloride) or FEP (fluorinated ethylene polymer). These materials both help to stop the fire progressing along the length of the cable, and reduce the release of harmful smoke.
In the U.S., the plastics that are used to make plenum cable have to meet strict standards created by the National Fire Protection Association. Any wires or cables used in plenum spaces have to meet the specifications required by these standards and pass rigorous fire safety tests.
Does My Office Need Plenum Cable?
If the cables and wires in your office run through the plenum spaces – which they most likely do – they need to be plenum rated cables and meet the National Fire Protection Association standards. If your office doesn’t have plenum cable in the plenum space, not only could you be placing your office at high risk of catastrophic fire damage, your installation may be in contradiction of the National Fire Protection Association standards.
How Do I Get Plenum Cable?
While all new cables installed in plenum spaces must be specially designed plenum cables, many older buildings do not have the right cables installed, and even recently installed plenum cables may not be up to the most recent standards, leaving your office at risk. The good news is that you can get your cables checked and inspected, and replaced if necessary to bring them up to standard and keep your office and assets safe.
1+1 TECH offers even more by providing a FREE service to audit and demos the existing cables in a new office before you move in. This gives you the opportunity to check the standard of the existing cables, and upgrade to safer, more effective plenum cables before your office is all set up.