Smooth Moves: Wire Lubricant Benefits

Putting lubricant to the test in tough environments


When installing cables in conduit, lube is a vital part of any contactor’s toolkit, but the specific conditions of the installation and site environment mean the selection of an appropriate lubricant with the correct properties is key. Brett Smyth, General Director of IDEAL Electrical EMEA and APAC, explains what to look for when selecting a lubricant.


"When considering the integrity and longevity of any electrical installation, thoughts tend to turn to the specification of the install – the design, materials, components, methods and tools used in the process. But what might not immediately spring to mind is the use of an appropriate lubricant.
Electrical lubricant is essential for the installation of cables in conduit, and the type of lube you select can make or break your work."



Why lubricant is so important


Whether installed in a commercial or domestic, interior or exterior setting, cabling is vulnerable to damage as it is pulled through the conduit, regardless of the type of cable or conduit used. Conduit can be extended in length, include awkward bends and angles, and be congested with multiple cables, all of which make it even more difficult to pull the cable.


This is where electrical lube comes in. Designed to reduce the risk of damage to the cable during installation, a suitable lubricant helps the cable slide easily and quickly through the conduit, protecting it from any friction or snagging which threatens to compromise the installation.

Lubricant is not a one-size-fits-all approach


Whilst contractors may be tempted to use the likes of washing liquid to achieve the properties of a lubricant, washing liquids like this are not designed for use with electrical cables and are therefore unlikely to offer the protection and compatibility needed to keep cables – and installations – safe. 


As with all electrical consumables, when it comes to selecting a lubricant, quality counts. This is all the more important in the Middle East construction market, where the hot, dry climate leads to increased friction risks. In fact, a recent report reveals the Middle East and North Africa region is warming at twice the global average1, so it’s crucial that all items used during electrical installations in the region have been thoroughly tested for their suitability and durability in harsh environments.


Choosing a high performance lubricant from a trusted manufacturer offers peace of mind, with quality assured, in-house production ensuring the required performance, safety and protection needed for specific installation challenges and environments.



How to select  an appropriate lubricant


IDEAL Electrical offers a range of high quality lubricants that are produced in the USA and have been independently tested to IEC, CE & UL standards. The products are pH neutral, environmentally safe, non-toxic, non-flammable and non-corrosive; all properties that contractors should be mindful of when selecting the desired lube.


With no mixing required, the IDEAL Yellow 77® Wire Pulling Lubricant is particularly popular in the Middle East construction industry as it suits the specific requirements of projects here, with temperature stability of critical consideration since lube performance can be affected if installed outside the recommended temperature range. Yellow 77’s wax-based formula remains stable in high temperatures of 32°F to 130°F (0°C to 54°C), sufficient variability for even the harshest of installation environments, including dry climates, cold desert evenings and hot summer days.


Yellow 77 offers enhanced ‘clingability’ for tougher environments – essential for optimum performance throughout the pull, particularly for the longer and more complex runs typical in Middle East construction. It also has the lowest co-efficient of friction of any lubricant in the Ideal Industries range, and the lower the co-efficient of friction, the more protected the cable throughout the pull.


It’s also important to choose a lubricant that is benign when in contact with the cable jacket to prevent any loss of integrity to the jacket protecting the wire. A wide range of jacket materials are used in cable manufacture, so checking that the chosen lubricant is certified for use on the cable being installed is essential. Yellow 77 is safe to use with most cable types and is clearly labelled to verify compatibility.



Quality is key for the ultimate performance


A trusted manufacturer like IDEAL Electrical tailors its products to respond to certain market characteristics, delivering products that add value and resolve common issues. In the Middle East, for example, pressures of tight programmes, challenging site environments and high-end quality expectations can be addressed with the use of appropriate products.


When it comes to lubricant, Yellow 77 provides improved performance in tough environments, including the Middle East’s hot, dry climate, and can be relied upon to pull cable through bends and awkward angles in the conduit without snagging, ensuring it retains integrity and delivers intended service life.


It is for these reasons that the lubricant has been utilised in high profile projects across the region, including the Abu Dhabi Airport expansion, Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh Metro and the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai