Strictly speaking the simple answer is No. However, take a closer look and this is not quite as clear…
Common questions that I have recently received include:-
Is there a CPR ‘length limit’ when using longer length patch leads?
Are cabinet to cabinet links regarded as fixed?
When do patch leads become a permanent fixture of a cabling infrastructure?
The Construction Products Regulation (CPR) was introduced 2 years ago and all manufacturers were given a 12-month transition period to ensure that their cable products were fully compliant.
As of the 1st July 2017 all new installations of fixed cable in to UK and European buildings should now be fully compliant to these new standards.
When it comes to bulk fibre, power or copper installations within the fabric of the building, the CPR regulations are fairly straight forward with different Euroclass rankings to match the design criteria.
However, once a building is then handed over to the client the rules and regulations of maintaining a CPR rated infrastructure, coupled with the ongoing need for moves and changes quickly becomes more complex.
There has been some talk regarding using a maximum 5 Metre patch lead length, however this is not correct – some European countries are trying to use this limit, but not the UK at present.
When using longer length patch cords it is far more relevant to look at the purpose of the cable, as well as the route that it will take.
For example, a simple patch cable to connect a printer has a long route that runs behind office furniture. The length is irrelevant and it does not need to be compliant with any CPR Euroclass regulations.
However, if the patch lead was to be installed within a specific cable pathway, so hidden below a floor, above a ceiling or behind a wall/in trunking then the lead would then become an ‘installation cable’ and would therefore be viewed as part of a permanent structure.
In short, you are more likely to swap out the end devices rather than remove the installed cable.
Short length patching within an IT rack does not need to be CPR rated, and todays standard PVC (rather than Low Smoke) cables remain an acceptable and popular choice.
Ultimately, patching is in place to quickly facilitate moves and changes, but once the patch lead leaves the rack, then once again the ‘permanent structure’ question needs to be addressed.
It is common place to have panel to panel links within cabinets in a datacentre. These would certainly need to be a CPR rated installation as those links (whether fibre or copper) would be installed in some kind of loom, void or containment between the racks and will remain in place long term – so once again you would be more likely to move and change the installed equipment, rather than removing the installed cables. However, the patch leads then being used for the cross connects from the panels to the equipment would be exempt from a Euroclass rating.
If cable looms are terminated in-situ, or pre-terminated, they will apply to the new Euroclass program and be considered as ‘fixed’ as they’re permanently incorporated in to the building design and the cables cannot easily be removed or disconnected.
Decisions regarding CPR need to really be taken on a case by case basis, then reviewed regularly as often a quick temporary measure can easily become a long term permanent fixture.
Another good example is MTP Multicore Trunk cables. These have plugs on each end that can be disconnected from the cassette or equipment, therefore these currently fall outside of the regulations.
This is flexible cable, so at first glance does not fall under the CPR regulations, but are also considered as multicore and are often long lengths concealed within conduit and passing over or under rows of racks. In my opinion this would be a very hard one to call and should once again be looked at on a case by case basis.
Please feel free to get in touch with Patchsave Solutions if you would like further information regarding CPR regulations or require a call or onsite meeting to discuss. We have some great relationships with the UK manufacturers and UK distributors and can certainly provide information and answers to help you navigate around this CPR topic and make the right decisions when it comes to installing both fibre and copper patch cables throughout your buildings.
We also have a new range of long length CPR rated Copper Cables that are due to be launched later in the year so could be handy for you at some point!
Operations Director, Patchsave Solutions Limited