Brett Smyth, general manager of Ideal Industries EMEA discusses the importance of selecting the correct lube for conduit installations.
The integrity and service life of any electrical installation begins with the specification of the components installed and the tools used to install them.
When we think of tools, we may think of re-usable, solid piece of kit, but one of the most essential tools for the installation of cables in conduit is lube.
Selecting an appropriate lube for the installation environment is particularly important in the hot dry climate of the Middle East construction market due to friction risks.
A high performance lube also makes the cable pull faster and easier, enabling the cable to be pulled through bends and awkward angles in the conduit without snagging to ensure it retains integrity and delivers intended service life.
Although most electrical installers understand the need to use a lube when pulling cables through conduit, many consider it a generic commodity product and overlooks the need to choose a lube with the correct properties that can be tracked to a quality-assured manufacturing environment.
That’s why Ideal Industries works with contractors across the Middle East to help them select the appropriate lubricant for their requirements.
Why is a specialist lube necessary?
The main purpose of an electrical lube is to help the cable slide easily through the conduit to avoid friction and snagging.
Often conduit is congested with multiple cables, it may be extended in length and include awkward bends and angles, all of which are potential causes of friction and difficulty in pulling the cable.
Use of a suitable lubricant makes pulling the cable easier for the electrician with a lower risk of damage to the cable during installation.
It’s not unusual for electricians to improvise by using non-specialist products, such as washing-up liquid for example, to provide the texture of a lubricant, which can make it easier to maneuver the cable through the conduit.
However, generic products like this are not designed to reduce friction and snagging and have not been tested for use with electrical cables, therefore they should not be used because they may not offer the protection and compatibility required.
Unlike a specially-formulated electrical lube, household detergents do not dry to a powder following installation either, so they leave a permanent residue inside the conduit.
What to look for in electrical lube
The most fundamental property of any electrical lubricant is that it must be benign when in contact with the jacket material of the cable so that it not only protects the cable from friction or snagging but also prevents any loss of integrity for the jacket that protects the wire.
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 IEEE 1210 (Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers) & UL standards and are clearly labelled to enable electricians to verify compatibility.
They are also pH neutral, environmentally-safe, non-toxic, non-flammable and non-corrosive; all properties that contractors should look for when selecting a lubricant to 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 to provide improved performance in tougher environments, including the hot, dry climate typical of Middle East construction projects.
Ideal Yellow 77 also has the lowest co-efficient of friction of any lubricant in the Ideal Industries lube range, which is another key indicator of performance.
The lower the co-efficient of friction, the more protected the cable will be all the way through the pull, therefore electricians installing cables in extended conduit networks should select the lowest co-efficient of friction available.
Temperature stability is also important because performance of the lube could be affected if it is installed outside the recommended temperature range.
For Ideal Yellow 77, which is often used for industrial and power sector installations, the temperature range is 0 degree C – 54 degrees C, providing sufficient variability for even the harshest of installation environments, including cold desert evenings and hot summer days.
For Ideal Industries Aqua-Gel lubes, a polymer-based lube alternative to wax for exterior installations, the temperature range is even greater at 0 degree C – 82 degrees C.
The temperature range for Ideal Industries’ Clearglide lube, which is usually recommended for residential, office, data comms and retrofit installations, is 0 degree C – 82 degree C.
For these environments, ease of application and clean-up are also important considerations to prevent damage to interior finishes.
The Clearglide bottle is designed to allow the lubricant to be dispensed straight into the conduit to prevent spills and the product has been formulated with added perfume to prevent chemical odours in interior spaces.
As with all electrical consumables, when it comes to selecting a lubricant, quality counts, therefore lubes should never been seen as a generic, commodity item.
Unlike some lubricant brands, which are manufactured by third parties, all Ideal Industries lubricants are manufactured in a controlled, quality assured environment with production batch numbers to provide traceability for every tub or bottle.
Selecting the right lubricant from a trusted manufacturer with an established range and quality assured in-house production is the only way to ensure the product offers the performance, safety and protection needed for the specific installation challenges and environment.
If you require any further information or assistance, please contact IDEAL on +44 (0)1925 444 446 or contact IDEAL via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.