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Module Title:-Cable Calculation

Subjects covered:Basic cable calculations;

oDesign current;
oInstallation methods;
oAmbient temperatures;
oProtection device choice;
oVolt drop.

Cable Calculation
When trying to determine the size of conductors necessary for the safe working of a
circuit many factors need to be considered. It is not acceptable to guess or to use cable
sizes that are in common usage just because someone may say that you should use
1.5mm2 twin and earth. You may just be wrong!

If you get cable sizes wrong, then there may be a fire risk or you may be wasting money
on excessive material.

To get an idea of what is required it is worthwhile working through an example, noting

some of the areas of concern as we progress.

1/. A 3kW heater is supplied from a 230V, 50Hz supply. The circuit is protected
using BS3036 (rewirable) fuses and is situated 15m away from the distribution
board. It is run with one other circuit and is buried within the building material
of the installation. The temperature within the installation can be assumed to
be 25C. Determine:i/. The design current;
ii/. The fuse rating;
iii/. The smallest possible cable size;
iv/. The volt drop within the cable.
This is a typical question and needs to be approached in a systematic way. Do not try to
leap to the answer in one fell swoop; you will fail.
To begin with, it is always worthwhile listing in some sort of order the information that
you can glean from the question. It may or may not be useful but at least you will know
everything about the problem. This information is more often best shown on a
thumbnail sketch.
Remember that you will also need your BS7671 Requirements (Regs) with you, and
your On-Site Guide.

Beginning at page 192 of BS7671 (current edition) there are a series of tables. These
tables give information that is often necessary for an accurate calculation.
Table 4A gives information on the installation method, i.e. how the cable is
installed in the property.
Tables 4B1 to 4B3 give correction factors for grouped cables. These are
necessary because when cables run close to each other they are not able to give
off their heat at the same rate and some allowance must be made for
Tables 4C1 and 4C2 give correction factors for cables run in temperatures
other than 30C. Cables are designed with an assumption that they will run in

an environment that has a temperature of 30C, anything different requires that

we provide a multiplying figure to the calculations.
Here is our question again.
1/. A 3kW heater is supplied from a 230V, 50Hz supply. The circuit is protected
using BS3036 (rewirable) fuses and is situated 15m away from the distribution
board. It is run with one other circuit and is buried within the building material
of the installation. The temperature within the installation can be assumed to be

Column 1 is just a number. Column 2 gives a brief description of the installation

method. Column 3 shows a simple diagram and column states what Reference Method
is being used.
For our particular example as the cable is buried within the fabric of the building, we
will choose, from page 192, number 2, Cables embedded directly in building
materials, which is Method 1.
Make sure you are following all of this.
The second piece of information we can get is to do with the type of protective device
A BS3036 rewirable fuse has a fusing factor of two. The consequence of this is that we
need to effectively downgrade the cable.

Regulation 433-02-03 states that a factor of 0.725 must be applied to any calculation
containing a BS3036 fuse. This factor is applied because cables are designed to
withstand current 1.45 times greater than the current rating of the protective device.

Because a BS3036 fuse has a fusing factor of 2 a de-rating of the cable needs to take
Another factor is the ambient temperature that surrounds a cable. Cables are designed
to withstand ambient temperatures of 30C. If the ambient temperature falls below
30C then more current can be allowed to flow, if the temperature rises above 30C
then less current can be allowed to flow.
In this example, for a temperature of 25C if you look at Table 4C2 on page 199, you
will see a table with a list of cable insulation types and a row with operating
temperatures. Table 4C2 is used because we are using BS3036 fuses.

For our example then, with an ambient temperature of 25C and the insulation material
being PVC, the correction factor is 1.03.
The final correction factor is that caused by grouping. Grouping has to be taken into
account when cables are placed close to each other. When they are close and both carry
current they are helping to warm each other up. This means that the cables can overheat
and extra precautions need to be taken to compensate for this.

Table 4B1 on page 197 lists the correction factors applied when quantities of cables are
near each other. This table has a column for the reference method of the installation and
a series of columns listing the values given for certain quantities of circuits. For our
example, we have run our cable with one other circuit so there must be two circuits
grouped. With an installation method of 1 our correction factor is 0.80.
It is worthwhile listing all the information that we have.
1/. A 3kW heater is supplied from a 230V, 50Hz supply. The circuit is protected
using BS3036 (rewirable) fuses and is situated 15m away from the distribution
board. It is run with one other circuit and is buried within the building material
of the installation. The temperature within the installation can be assumed to
be 25C.

Installation reference method:

Table 4A; Method 1 Cables embedded in building materials.

Correction for BS3036 fuse:


Correction for ambient temperature Ca:

Table 4C2; General purpose PVC; 25C; Column 2; Ca=1.03.

Correction for grouping Cg:

Table 4B1; Reference method 1; Column 2: Cg=0.80.
Now that we have gathered all the information that we need, it would be worthwhile
drawing a thumbnail sketch.

In any cable calculation, the process is all-important. Do not try to take short cuts. The
order in which things are done is as follows:
Determine the design current (Ib). This is the current found using the power

Find the protective device size (In). This is determined because the cable will
have to be capable of carrying the full rating of the fuse. If we only picked a
cable capable of carrying the design current, the cable may be liable to
Determine the current carrying capacity of the cable (It). This takes account of
all the correction factors we have found.
Find the actual current carrying capacity from the tables in BS7671.
Once you have picked a cable size, determine the volt dropped in the
cable due to its resistance and the current flowing in it.
The design current should be no greater than the fuse rating. The fuse rating must be no
greater than the current carrying capacity of the cable. The current carrying capacity of
the cable should not be greater than the tabulated capacity of the cable.

Notice that the tabulated current is greater than the current carrying capacity; the
current carrying capacity is greater than the fuse rating, and the fuse rating is greater
than the design current. This is how it should always be!
The value for the tabulated current carrying capacity is found in that tables beginning
on page 200 (4D1A). These tables list the type of cable insulation and the type of
conductor. It is essential to choose the right one. In our example, table 4D2A was
chosen as we are using PVC/PVC twin and c.p.c. This makes this a multi-core cable as
far as BS7671 is concerned.
Values of In can be found in the table on pages 41 and 42 of BS7671.
Well now look at the volt drop in the cable.

In this instance the mV/A/m is found from Table 4D2B. Those tables that are labelled
with a B are usually providing information on the volt drop of the cable. The figure that
is given is the resistance per metre in m (milli-Ohm).
If the voltage dropped is greater than 4% of the supply voltage we really need to look at
increasing the size of the cable. For a 230V supply, a 4% volt drop would be 9.2V.
This means that we are well within the 4% limit.

This requirement requires that we consider the whole of the installation, from
beginning to end, and not just on each individual circuit.
Look at the diagram below.

The 4% is from start to finish.

I realise that this has seemed like a long process but now try an example without having
everything explained.

2/. A 7.6kW single-phase load is fed from a distribution board 25m away. The

load is fed via PVC singles and the cable is run on its own in steel conduit on
the surface, and is protected via a BSEN 60898 Type B circuit breaker. The
cable is run in an area where the ambient temperature is 35C. Determine the
size of cable required.
Remember the housekeeping! Try drawing a diagram.

The value of mV/A/m is found in Table 4D1B. This table is on page 201, opposite
table 4D1A.

Notice the column that I used. The figures relate to not only the number of conductors
but also to the reference method and the number of phases that are present.
For all your calculations, at present, you must follow the same process. Dont take short
cuts. It is also true that I am not telling you everything that you need or may need to do.
Well have another look at cable calculations in more detail when you work through the
higher-level study books.
At this level, it is enough that you are able to calculate everything up to and including
the voltage drop.
We are coming to the end of this study book but try following this last calculation
before attempting the final exercise.

3/. An upstairs lighting circuit is wired in PVC/PVC cable. It is run with

insulation surrounding it for a distance of 0.5m, although its total length is
30m. There are 8 lights on the circuit, and the circuit is protected via a 5A
BS3036 fuse. If the ambient temperature is 30C and there is no grouping,
determine an appropriate cable size.
The first question you have to ask yourself is, What load is each light? Although the

old 15th Edition used to give some guidance, BS7671 doesnt. If you look in your OnSite-Guide at Appendix 1 on page 67, Table 1A, there is a series of assumed demands
for particular loads. For our case, a light point can be assumed to have a load of 100W.
Remember the diagram and the housekeeping.

No factor applies
Ambient temperature
No factor applies
Installation Reference Method
Table 4A; No.1; Method 1
Reg.523-04-01; Ci=0.5
BS3036 fuse
Reg.433-02-03; Factor=0.725

Notice how very nearly we had to increase the cable size just because we ran the cable
through roof insulation. It is worthwhile noting the effect that insulating material has
and trying to avoid it!
In this instance though, we are allowed to run our lighting circuit in 1mm 2 PVC/PVC