19 Jan 2017
We often get asked what types of cables can be used in healthcare settings.
It’s important to use the right cable in patient care areas because the National Electrical Code (NEC) has strict requirements to ensure the safety of patients. First, we will define what exactly a patient care area is and then outline available options.
What is a Patient Care Area?
A patient care area is defined by the NEC 517.2 as “Any portion of a health care facility wherein patients are intended to be examined or treated.” The NEC defines requirements for wiring patient care areas in NEC 517.13. This article requires receptacles and fixed electrical equipment in patient care spaces to have two independent grounding conductors. One is the mechanical ground path provided by the armor and full-sized aluminum ground conductor, the second is the full-sized green insulated copper conductor.
The reason for two separate equipment grounding conductors is to have redundancy in the branch circuits that serve patient care spaces. Redundancy in the grounding minimizes the risk of electrical shock to the patient by controlling the electrical current.
What options are available?
Cables intended for patient care areas are generally referred to as HCF cables to indicate they are designed to meet these requirements.
One option for wiring these areas is to use conduit and run the conductors manually. Other, labor savings options include running Armored Cable (AC) or Metal Clad Cable (MC) with the conductors already installed.
AFC Cable offers both AC and MC Cables for HCF locations. HCF-90® Cable with a steel armor or HCF-Lite® with an aluminum armor are both options for healthcare AC cable. There are also several versions of MC Cable that are approved for healthcare applications.
In addition to AC Cables, there are styles of MC Cable for HCF applications on the market. AFC’s MC-Stat® also comes in both steel and aluminum with the advantage of the protective polypropylene covering is extruded directly over the THHN insulation. This means that there is no overall assembly tape that needs to be removed prior to installation cutting down on installation and labor times. In addition, MC Cables can have multiple configurations including home run applications with multiple neutrals such as MC Stat® Plus.
The newest MC Cable for healthcare on the market is MC Luminary HCF® Lite. This product combines the benefits of MC-Stat® with the innovative MC Luminary Cable™ with both the power and 0-10 volt dimming control circuits under one armor. This product is great for patient care areas that have LED dimming systems installed for power saving and patient comfort. MC Luminary HCF® armor along with a parallel aluminum bond/ground forms the primary ground path and the green insulated copper conductor is the redundant ground path.
This video provides additional detail on MC Luminary HCF® and how it can used in patient care areas with dimming systems.
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