Q1: How many different types of Fire Alarm & Security Cable are available?
A: There are 5 basic types of the mentioned Cable:
FPL - Power Limited General Purpose.
FPLR (Fire-Power Limited-Riser) - Power Limited Suitable from Floor to Floor.
FPLP (Fire Power Limited Plenum) - Power Limited Suitable for Ducts, Plenums, and other spaces.
NPLF - Non-Power Limited General Purpose.
NPLFP - Non-Power Limited Suitable for use in Ducts, Plenums, and other spaces.
Q2: What's the difference between the power limited cables and non-power limited cables?
A: The difference between power limited cables and non-power limited cables comes down to which sections of NEC they comply with. Non-power limited cables is a fire alarm circuit powered by a source that complies with NEC sections 760-21 and 760-23. Power limited cables is a fire alarm circuit powered by a source that complies with section 760-41.
Q3: How do I know what kind of fire alarm cable I need?
A: Fire alarm cables are placed into three broad categories: plenum, non-plenum, and riser. Each of these corresponds to another standardized category. FPLP Plenum cable to be used in ducts or other enclosed air spaces; FPL non-plenum cable to be used in applications such as surface wiring; and FPLR riser cable, which can be used in applications that go vertically from floor to floor. All of these names reflect where the fire alarm cable can be installed safely. Once you know where you will install the cable, you know in which category to start looking.
Q4: Which standards should I consider when choosing fire alarm and security cable?
A: In the US, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) plays an important role in standards because it publishes the National Electrical Code (NEC). This document regulates the installation of electric wiring and equipment and should definitely be considered before starting a project.
ASTM International and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) also design tests and standards for a wide variety of wire and cable, including those used for fire alarm and security applications. In Canada, CSA International does work similar to the UL in the United States and can help assure compliance with the Canadian Electrical Code.