Thursday, September 23, 2010

cabling chemical conundrum

You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs. Herbie's galley looks a right mess at the moment as I have dismantled bit of ceiling, trunking and shelving to make a route for the solar panel cables. All was going fine until a thought crossed my mind.

With my Boat Safety inspection due next week I was thinking through the safety requirements and recalled that you are not allowed to lay electrical cables in contact with polystyrene insulation. This is because when PVC (commonly used as cable insulation) comes into contact with polystyrene, a chemical reaction causes the PVC to degrade and can melt away. Something to do with plasticisers in the PVC.

Well the route from the hole in the roof where the cables enter, to the side trunking, is all against polystyrene if the cables go above the ceiling lining. Now it gets technical, because I looked up the spec of the solar cables and they are not PVC but EVA, a more rubbery material. So is this still a problem? Well so far I don't know. If anybody out there does know then I'd be glad to find out.

What I might do is wrap the cables in duct tape, which according to 3M is polyethylene and I think this is safe in this context.


Halfie said...

Could you use a plastic conduit?

Vallypee said...

What a conundrum! Not being technical, I'm afraid I wouldn't know, but hope you find the solution.

Sarah said...

Well, I know it's the fact that the plasticisers in the PVC leach out, leaving it brittle, that's the problem, so perhaps anything dependent on plasticisers is equally vulnerable. Making the question, is EVA dependent on plasticisers to remain flexible or is it naturally so.