Fire safety ratings are grades given to cables based on the material they are made of and the material that covers them. It is important to know what fire safety rating your cables have before running them in certain areas or through certain spaces. It can be considered hazardous to run cables without a certain fire rating in some places and the repercussions for ignoring these can be as severe as damage to property or life and failing an inspection because of a cable without the proper rating can result in loss of insurance and a fine. Check with your local code inspection department to find out which fire safety ratings you need to use for the area you are planning on installing your cables.
VW-1 is a flame test commonly used in the United States to determine the cable's resistance to fire. Cables that have a VW-1 rating have passed this test and are considered fire resistant. However, a VW-1 rating does not necessarily mean that the cable is safe to run in wall. We strongly recommend contacting your local code enforcement, or your insurance company. They will be able to better advise on whether or not a VW-1 rating is safe for in wall usage.
A CL2 rating meaning that a cable has passed the required NEC test for a high rating of fire resistance. The cable's materials are not going to burn during a sudden surge of electricity up to 150 watts and the cable itself will not carry a flame. CL2 is what we most often recommend for in wall usage, we still recommend contacting your local code enforcement for confirmation, as this rating may be unnecessary or possibly even insufficient. This rating is most commonly found on our copper cables such as our HDMI cables, Bare Copper Wire, VGA, DVI and Coaxial cables.
A CL3 rating is very similar to CL2 in the respects that they are both usable in wall, and are both resistant to holding and carrying flames. The main difference between the two is the wattage that a CL3 rated cable can carry. While CL2 cables can carry a surge of up to 150 watts, and CL3 can carry twice that at 300 watts. A CL3 rated cable can take the place of any CL3, however, a CL2 cannot take the place of a CL3. We only have a very limited selection of CL3 rated cables with only the Luxe Series of HDMI cables carrying this rating.
Plenum rated cables are meant to be used in areas with a lot of air flow, typically air ventilation systems. These cables have a special type of insulation and jacketing that cause them to smoke and burn far less than other cables. It is because of these characteristics that they are considered safe to run through areas that will give or take air from populated areas as they will not release toxic chemicals into the air for people attempting to evacuate to breathe in. A Plenum rated cable should be able to take the place of any CL2 or CL3 cable, though, as always, we recommend contacting your code enforcement office as these cables to tend to be more expensive and would serve no real purpose if a CL2 or CL3 cable is all that is needed. We offer Plenum rated cables for HDMI, VGA, and Bare Copper Wire.
CM, CMR and CMP
CM, CMR and CMP are ratings given to our Network cables. These ratings are very similar to the previously discussed CL2, CL3 and Plenum, but are given specifically to network cables due to their lower wattage. CM cables share the same values as CL2 and CL3 cables, in that they are most often accepted for simple in wall installation. CMR, sometimes called Riser rating, is usually required for network cables that will span one or more floors. CMR cables are treated and tested to prevent a fire from travelling along the cable itself, insuring that the cable will not allow a fire to quickly span several floors quickly. CMP is the equivalent of a plenum rated cable. These cables are much thicker and more ridged than CM and CMR due to their thicker jacketing. As always, we advise contacting your local code enforcement for specifics on which of these cables you are able to use in whatever installation you plan on using them with. We offer all three of these cables types with various Cat5e, Cat6 and Cat6a cables.
All of the fire safety ratings we have mentioned so far are for copper based cables. We are often asked if our optical cables are able to be run in wall. The brief answer is, yes they are. Our fiber optic cables are OFNR rated, Optical fiber nonconductive riser. This means that the cables have been tested to resist a fire should they come in contact with fire. As these cables to not carry any electricity, they themselves could not become the cause of a fire in the event of an electrical surge.