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AMPACITIES OF MULTICONDUCTOR CABLES IN TRAYS

Ralph H. Lee.

E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. (Inc.) Newark, Delaware

Abstract-The presently available rules for prescribing ampacities

of cables in trays have been found unduly restrictive for light to medium

tray loading, leading to wide disregard of such derating for all loadings.

Here is presented a method, founded -on sound heat-transfer technology, and experimentally verified, for such ampacity determination. Its use should restore user confidence, with realistic ratings dependent on tray

fill, and eliminate the serious consequences of tray cable overloading.

INTRODUCTION

The rapidly widening use of cable in trays as the distribution method in industrial and utility service has sharpened the need for more mean-

ingful application guidance in this field. The available guidelines involve

the regimentation of cables into layers and cables per layer1, or impose ratings based on number of conductors per tray1 2, regardless of tray or cable size. Since practical tray use seldom tolerates the uniform layer- row orientation, and since fifty small conductors in seven cables in an

18-inch wide tray, still subject to 50% de-rating, constitutes almost un-

reasonably light loading, it is little wonder that the existing guidelines have been disregarded. This disregard, while reasonable in the light to medium fill region, has been found to be highly dangerous where heavy tray fill is involved. Serious fires resulting from high ampere loading of conductors in over-full trays have raised questions in some quarters about the wisdom of tray use at all.

One of the consequences has been the investigation by Stolpe3 of temperature rises in cables, random-laid in trays, as a function of cur- rent. His findings related cable ampacity to the cross section area oc-

cupied by the particular cable, and to the percentage fill of the random- filled trays, the latter based on 3-inch available depth in the trays. These testsutilizedmixed conductor sizesand single and multiconductor cables, simulating normal field installations. Before the Stolpe tests were reported, the writer's company, also recognizing the need for more meaningful data, initiated a test program

to determine tray cable ampacities under various loading conditions. The status of the Stolpe testing was learned while the tests were in progress, and liaison was established. From this, it developed that the Du Pont test results corresponded very closely to the theoretical analysis origi-

nated by Stolpe, corroborating this analysis for even a third type of

T

3"

TRANSITE BARRIER

1"TC

4 /'2 -4'/

4/2'--

-4/2 4/

LADDER TRAY

TCs AT MID POINT

RUNG SPACING - 9'

AMBIENT

T.C

Is8

20

12

6

22

1

614 THERMOCOUPLE

PATTERN.

<2 ,g4 ,{6 OD D NOs. -ON

Y

COND R.

EVEN NOs. -ON JACKET

EQUIPMENT ARRANGEMENT

Fig. 1. Test Arrangement

cable not included in his tests, and lending additional proof to the valid- ity of his theories.

EQUIPMENT OUTLINE

These tests employed a ladder-type tray, 18-inches wide, with 3- inch depth available for filling with cable as shown in Figure 1. The tray test section was 6-feet long, with the cable extending a few inches be- yond the tray on each end for turning. Cables were installed in layers, without being cut, but looped back into the same layer at 1/2 tray pitch separation somewhat like the method of winding random-wound motors. All conductors of the cable in each layer were connected in series, and layers were connected in series, so uniform current flowed in all the con- ductors. Current was supplied from low voltage transformers, with pri- mary voltage adjustment by a variable autotransformer. No. 12, No. 6, and No. 2 AWG three conductor cables were tested, one size at a time. One, two, and three layers of cables were tested in sequence. Each size and number of layers was tested, installed as close together as possible (in each layer), and also spaced 1/3 cable diameter apart in each layer. In the case of the spaced cable test, truly uniform spacing could not be maintained, since the cables were not constrained except at the ends of the 6-foot length of tray. All cables tested con- sisted of three conductors of THHN stranded copper, with crumpled polyethylene filler, Mylar® polyester film cable tape and PVC jacket. Dimensions were:

TABLE I Dimensions of THHN Cables Tested

Cable

OD

Area

Size

Inches

In.2

12

.38

.113

6

.69

.374

1 2

1

1.01

.801

Cables/Layer

Clos e

Spaced

42

22

16

32

16

12

Temperatures were measured with iron-constantan thermocouples

'at the center of the 6-foot straight lengths. Half of these were placed di- rectly on the conductors through a slit in the insulation, half on the out- side of the jackets adjacent to the cuts in jacket and conductor insula- tion, directly above the conductor being measured. Six thermocouples (three pairs) were used in each layer, at the 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 width po-

sitions. A thermocouple was placed 9 inches beyond the edge of the tray

to measure room ambient t&mperature. Another thermocouple was placed 12 inches above the top of the tray, just beneath a Transite sheet at the position another tray would have occupied in two-high arrange- ment. All the thermocouples were connected to a 24-trace recorder, along with monitoring thermocouples at 0°C and 100°C for continuous checking. To check possible loss of heat axially along the cable to cooler ends,

an axial temperature profile was taken, showing slightly lower tempera-

tures within 1 foot of the tray ends, but no variation in the center 2/3 of

the tray length. Additionally, for some of the tests, the outer turning

portion was blanketed with fiberglass mats; no temperature variation at the center of the tray section between blanketed and unblanketed states was detected.

Paper 71 TP 543-PWR, recommended and approved by the Insulated Con-

ductors Committee of the IEEE Power Engineering Society for presentation at the

IEEE Summer Meeting and International Symposium on High Power Testing, Port-

land, Ore., July 18-23, 1971. Manuscript submitted January 19, 1971; made avail-

able for printing April 28, 1971.

TEST PROCEDURE

Current was adjusted to a preselected value and maintained at that value throughout each segment of the test. Temperatures were monitored

1051

80

/

Fg2.Cretan /eprtr Rie-13// HNCbe

10

CURRENT - A#APERES

TEIAP. RISE VS CURKNT 3/C #12 TM N CABLES

Fig. 2. Cu

35ent

and

.p

so

-

30

X20

15

 

10

15

20

30

50

70

100

CURRENT - AMPERES

TEMP. RISE VS CURRENT 3/C #6 TIN CABLES

Fig. 3. Current and Temperature Rise - #6 3/C THHN Cables

30

60

TEMP. RISE - IC

40

50

70

TYPICAL VERTICAL TEMP. PROFILE

3 LAYERS - 3/C #2

Fig. 5. Vertical Temperature Profile - Three Layers #2 3/C Cable

A typical vertical temperature profile up through the middle of a

3-layer fill is shown in Figure 5. It was noted, not without some concern,

that some of the jacket temperatures were higher than the correspond-

ing conductor temperatures. Subsequently it was determined that the

jacket locations displaying higher temperatures were closer to the center of the cable mass than the respective conductors, and the higher tem- peratures were due to heat progressing from near the center of the mass outward, not just from each conductor outward. It is evident that insu- lation and jacket temperatures close to the center of a tray fill are all at essentially the same temperature as that of the conductors, for a condi- tion of uniform cable loading. Consequently, the jacket material should be capable of operation at the same temperature as the insulation.

Temperature rise of the air 12 inches above the top of the tray (TC #24) averaged 16% of the maximum temperature rise of a conduc-

tor in the tray.

APPLICATION GUIDES

Stolpe's development of equation 93,

30I5020

70

-.X

~20

30

5

/

70

100

D

V Kr

where I = Ampacity

D

Q

=

Overall diameter of cable

= Allowable uniform heat per unit area (W/ft) in2. (see Fig-

ure 43)

n

R

= Number of conductors per cable

= AC resistance of a conductor at oper. temp., Q/ft.

CURRENT- AMPERES

TEAP. RISE VS CURIENT 3/C 42 THHH CABLES

continuously, and allowed to reach and maintain a steady value for one hour before readings were take,n. Typically, this required about four hours. At least three current levels were used fQr each conductor size,

number of layers and spacing; the current levels were relatively widely

spaced to reduce the effect of small errors in current and temperature

readings.

OBSERVATIONS

Temperatures for any one layer of cable at each cuffrent level were

relatively uniform, indicating that essentially all the heat, at least for the

central 3/4 of the tray width, was dissipated through the top and bot- tom. For each combination of conductor size, cuffent, number of layers and spacing, the maximum conductor temperatures in the trays are

shown in Figures 2, 3, and 4. These points lie closely along straight lines

on

log-log plot of temperature versus cuffent, of slope = 2. This would

be expected from the heat developed being proportional to current squared.

and Figure 43 provide a basis for developing a tray ampacity rating for each size of conductor and cable type, for a given percentage tray fill. Based on 10% fill of a 3-inch depth of tray, and for three cable types of

3/C cable, the above relations make possible the development of Table

II and Figures 6 and 7. Dimensions of the three cable types (RHH,

XLPE and THHN) for the range of sizes, along with 10% fill datum lines for 50°C rise calculated from Stolpe equation 9, are shown in Table II. For other temperature rise values, multipliers equal to the square roots of the ratios of the application temperature rise to 500C are applicable.

Figure 6 of the 10% fill lines for XLPE and THHN

cables below that for RHH indicates lower datum lines for 10% tray fill. This is correct, since 10% fill of these smaller cables would place more conductors in the tray, with higher wattage loss if the same current were

permitted. A little calculation indicates, not shown here, that for the

same number of conductors of given sizes in the tray, the ampacities of

all three cable types are identical, since those fill percentages of the

smaller types are less than for the full-sized cable. For principally con- trol cables, where the current loading is seldom as much as 10% of con- ductor ampacity, the smaller cable types would prove especially advan- tageous, as greater numbers of cables per tray would be practical, reduc-

ing tray space requirements. Figure 7 is the Ampacity Multiplier chart, by which tray percent fill indicates the multiplier which applies to the "10O% datum" of that

The position in

1052

TABLE II 10% Fill Datum Line Development - 3/C Cables, 50°C Rise From Stolpe Equation 9

Condr.

Size

14

12

10

8

6

4

2

1/0

2/0

4/0

350

500

 

RHH

XLPE

THHN

Diam.

Area

Datum

Diam.

Area

Datum

Diam.

Area

Datum

.57

.196

25.6

.46

.166

20.6

.34

.091

15.3

.62

.302

36.1

.51

.204

29

.38

.113

21.6

.69

.373

49.4

.57

.255

40.7

.46

.166

32.9

.94

.695

84.5

.74

.43

66.5

.61

.292

55

l.00

.785

114

.82

.53

94

.69

.374

79

1.15

1.04

165

.93

.68

134

.87

.59

125

1. 2$

1.29

231

1.07

.90

193

1.01

.80

182

1.62

2.06

368

1.35

1.43

284

1.25

1.23

278

1.75

2.40

447

1.48

1.72

379

1.33

1.39

335

2.00

3.15

645

1.72

2.32

555

1.59

1.99

480

2.57

5.20

1040

2.20

3.0

$90

1.96

3.01

795

2.90

6.30

1400

2.52

5.00

1215

2.24

3.95

1080

FROM STOLPE EQ. 9 & FIG. 4

L^

w

0.

2000

1000

700

500

300

200

100

70

50

30

20

8

6

4

2

1/02/0 4/

CONDUCTOR SIZE- AWG OR KCMil.

Fig. 6. 10% Fill Datum

Lines and Ampacities, RHH, XLPE and THHN

3/C Cables, 50°C Rise

conductor size shown in Figure 6. This is nearly a straight line on log- log scale, from 10% - 1.00 to 40% - 0.43 and 100% - 0.23.

TEST RESULTS

From intercepts of the lines of Figures 2, 3, and 4, and the 50°C ordinate, values of corresponding current were noted. Percentage fills were determined, the percentage of current to the 10o datums (from Figure 6) calculated, and all plotted in log-log form along with the de- rating line of Figure 7,in Figure 8. The pointsdetermined from the close- spaced cables, shown as solid symbols, lie very closely along the de-

rating line. Those determined from wider-spaced cables all lie slightly above the line as would be expected from the additional through- convection cooling. The correspondence of the close-spaced points to the line is unusually good for experimentally developed data, and lends

strong corroboration to the theoretically-derived de-rating method and

values. Also surprisingly close are the data shown from the spaced-

cables, which average only about 5% higher ampacity than those which were close-spaced. Of course, the percent fill for the wider-spaced cables was lower than for the close-spaced ones, making the number of cables for a given depth of fill lower. Table III shows the experimental values

derived from Figures 2, 3, 4, and 6 to develop Figure 8.

In Figure 6, the IPCEA and NEC ampacities for one 3/C cable in

air are alsoplotted. These lines differ markedly from the datum lines de-

veloped by the Stolpe formula, and which are confirmed by the results

of his testing as well as those reported here. While testing reported in this paper did not include conductors larger than #2 AWG, the slope

and position of the datum ampacity line for THHN cables between #1 2

and #2 AWG was established by test even before Stolpe data was availa-

ble,withextremely closecorrespondencewhen hisdata became available. Stolpe's testing did include single conductors of 1/0, 2/0, 4/0, and

1053

Lu

1.0

I.5

.3

10

FROM STOLPE FIG. 4

20

%

30

50

FILL - 3" DEEP TRAY

70

l1O

Fig. 7. Ampacity Multipliers for Cable Tray Fills Over 10%

500 kcmil. sizes, with results comparable to the datum lines of Figure 6 except adjusted for single conductors. These lie parallel to but below the

lines for 3/C cables, because they permit more conductors per unit area. The disparity of these datum lines from the IPCEA and NEC ampacities is quite marked, for sizes greater than about #6 (for NEC) and #2 (for IPCEA). The differences indicate that more investigation is needed in

this area.

From this development, a guide for cable rating may Step 1. Use Figures 6 and 7, with cable sizes, types and

termine ampacity.

Step 2. If this figure is lower than the single 3/C in air IPCEA or NEC ampacity (whichever is applicable by local regulation), retain and utilize it (Step 1 value). Step 3. If the IPCEA or NEC is the lower, use the IPCEA or NEC ampacity. The reason for the datum lines' elevation above IPCEA ratings is that they are based on a rectangular "flat" fill of the tray, which cannot be fulfilled by the larger cables until the tray loading reaches at least one full layer. Thus for lighter loading, the single 3/C in air rating must apply. It would appear that the IPCEA "single 3/C in air" ampacities, being based on Neher-McGrath ampacity determination, are realistic. The NEC prescribedvalues, about 20% lower, appear a compromise rating identical

tray fill, to de-

be considered:

to that for 3 1/C wires in conduit, possibly to avoid having an additional. ampacity table. When trays are stacked veriically in indoor space, the ampacities of cables in all trays above the lowest one should be calculated on the basis of ambient air temperature 8°C (or 16% of conductor temperature rise) above normal room ambient. This may be disregarded outdoors because of the effect of even minor air movement.

lY

LU

I

0s

1.5

1.0

.7

.5

.4

.3

.2 5

7

10

15

20

30

50

70

100

% FILL - 3" DEEP

TRAY

Fig. 8. Plot of 50°C Results from Figures 2, 3, and 4 ures 6 and 7

in Terms of Fig-

CONCLUSIONS

These test results for fill-related derating of cables in trays strongly corroborate the theories set forth by Stolpe3 and are at considerable variance with previously available guidelinesl,2. Differences are most marked in the size range of #6 AWG and larger, and are characterized

by higher low-fill ampacities but more severe de-ratings with heavy fill.

From this it is evident that for above-average fill, ampacities must be curtailed even more than presently recommended.

In light of this finding, it is reasonable to anticipate less extreme

loading of trays than has been practiced in some quarters, with accom- panying reduction in catastrophic failures. These ampacity guides make possible an application guide for tray cable use:

Step 1. Determine theoretical ampacities from Figures 6 and 7. Step 2. If the value from Step 1 is lower than the IPCEA* or NEC* "3/C in air" ampacity, use the Step 1 value. Step 3. If the value from Step 1 is higher than the IPCEA* or NEC* ampacity, use the latter. *Whichever is required by local authority.

It is convenient, in many instances, to standardize on a maximum tray fill, such as 40%, except for the large cables, or for cable trays used

fill exceeds this figure, additional or larger

for control wiring only. When trays are required.

REFERENCES

[1] IPCEA "P-33.440" Installed in Ladder

[2] National Electric Code

- "Factors for Calculating Ampacities of Cables

Supports, Trays, and Troughs."

1968. Table 310-12.

[3] "Ampacities for Cables in Randomly-Filled Trays" - John Stolpe

- IEEE 70 TP 557-PWR.

TABLE III Development of % Rating from Current for 500C Rise

l

|

Wire

Size

Oj 0 12

oCu

6

10%

Fill

1 laver

% Cur.

%

%

2 Layers

Cur.

%

%

3 Layers

Cur.

%

Rtg.

Fill

a.

Rtg.

Fill

a.

Rtg.

Fill

a.

Rtg.

21.6

8.8

23

106

17.6

16

74

26

12

56

79

15

59

75

29

41

42

46

31

39

co

X a r-

2

182

24

108

59

48

73

40

72

56.5

31

12

21.6

6.7

28.5

136

13.4

22

105

20

15

20

6

79

11

79

100

22

56

71

33

48

61

2

182

18

130

71

36

101

55

54

85

47

co

1054

Discussion

Norwood D.

with considerable pleasure that one, who was active as a cable

for forty years, notes the increasing number of technical and engineer-

ing papers relative to insulated cables being presented by their users and

not just their manufacturers. Examples of such activity are transaction

papers 71 TP 543 - PWR "Ampacities of Multiconductor Cables In Trays" by Ralph H. Lee and 70 TP 557 - PWR "Amacities for Cables

in Randomly Filled Trays" presented by Mr. J. Stolpe last year. For

those

erable value.

There are a few comments that I would like to make relative to Mr. Lee's paper and in fact in some cases they apply to Mr. Stolpe's paper of a year ago.

Figure 6 - "Datum Lines and Ampacities 3/C Cable in 3" Deep

Tray -

involved in cable systems in trays, these two papers are of consid-

Kenney (16 Lantern Lane, Hingham, Mass. 02043): It is

engineer

ampacity (for a given size con-

with XLPE and THNN-V cables. This dif-

ference in ampacity also was noted by Mr. Stolpe and as can be seen

from equation 93 is because RHH cables have larger overall diameters

compared to the thinner wall XLPE

50°C. Rise" indicates a larger

ductor) for RHH as compared

due to their thicker insulation as

and THHN-V cable and their resulting

This

be installed in

further decreasing

cables in

smaller overall diameters.

feature points out the! fact that in future design

trays

trays, one must consider very carefully the

their thicknesses of

insulations

heavily loaded, is it possible

are to be

and

of cables to

advisability of

jackets. When

wall type?

that economics and

larger overall di-

reliability might dictate the choice of a cable having a

Modern cable insulations are such that in

ameter for a

cases recommended

emergency and short circuit maximum conductor temperatures are con-

given conductor size rather than a thinner

many

siderably higher

cables are

temperatures" (increasing conductor and air tray

emergency overload conditions which

cables

cables in trays and even

than the limits for normal continuous

possibility

result in

operation. When

of "run away

temperatures) under

packed tightly in a tray, is there a

causing

might

damage

to the

and even

a fire? Because of concern of the

possible

ampacity

fires, as noted

-

be of value.

by Mr. Lee,

the same

uniform cable

operation

loading.

at the same

reliability of

it seems to

conductor temperature tests on

me that emergency

cables installed as

Mr. Lee

load

in Fig. (1) may

-

reports

fill

"insulation

are all at essentially

and jacket temperatures close to the

temperature as that of

center of a tray

the conductots, for a condition of

the jacket material should be

tures

Consequently,

tempera-

are correct, it may be

capable of

as the insulation".

Assuming the test data

cables

in

necessary for the user of

to make such a now installed in

would consider the

trays, undet heavy

load conditions,

design request of the cable manufacturer, as many cables

trays are not so constructed. I wonder what Mr. Lee ampacity-temperature profile of cables in trays when metallic?

is

Mr. Lee's statement

the outer covering

Although

Stolpe's papers,

outside of the

subject matter of both Mr. Lee's and Mr.

making ampacity-temperature

"Serious

high ampere loading of conductors in over-filled

it seems to me that in

in trays and

considering

tests of cables

fires resulting from

trays have raised questions in some quarters about the wisdom of tray

use at all", it is important not only to observe the various ampacity-

temperature profiles, but to observe and report on the physical condi-

tions of the cables. Recommended maximum conductor

temperatures

are not

impor-

tant

just

because

they influence cable ampacities, but because if

they

are exceeded, the short

and long time reliability of the cable

support

system may

be shortened. Because of the

pointsin a ladder-type tray as well

as the uneven

pressures applied

to the bottom cables

by

the

weight of

those above in a data relative to the

ical condition of cable

heavily

degree

filled

tray.

It would be most valuable

and changes

percent

in the

tray-fill,

to have

phys-

con-

of cable deformation

materials as a function of

ductor sizes, as well as normal and emergency ampacities. Mr. Lee has such data?

I

wonder if

Manuscript received July 6, 1971.

R. C. Waldron (The Okonite

reported by Mr. Lee in this paper agrees with the theory set forth by

Company, Ramsey, N.J. 07446): The work

Mr. Stolpe in the referenced article. As a result of this work by Mr. Stolpe

and Mr. Lee, a joint IPCEA-ICC Committee was formed to work up

suitable tables. This has been done but they have not yet been finalized and printed. It is proposed to publish these tables by IPCEA in the near

Manuscript received August 3, 1971.

future in a somewhat more convenient form to use than the curves

pre-

that these tables will be available and that in

arrived at

tables

will fill a much wanted gap in connection with the expanding use of

cables in trays.

IPCEA correction factors is long overdue and we feel that these

sented by Mr. Lee in this paper. At this time we

by

Mr. Lee

appear

would merely point out

general the conclusions

original

to be valid. The revision of the

R. C. Shah (Sargent and Lundy, Chicago,

mended for the excellent

validity

of Mr. J.

Ill.): The author is to be com-

ampacities of mutlicon-

ductor cables in trays. This

ampacity to a cable agrees very well with the ampacity assigned to a cable in the proposed

experimental data for has further provided

justification about the

Stolpe's theory 1.

The author's suggested approach for assigning

IPCEA Standard2.

REFERENCES

[1] Reference [3] of the paper. [21 Proposed IPCEA Standard for "Ampacity of Cables in Trays" - to

be published.

Manuscript received August 5, 1971.

Ralph H. Lee: We appreciate the interest expressed by the discussors,

and the additional breadth

As Mr. Kenney notes, there now exists a healthy increase of interest in

introduced into the subject by their questions.

insulatedcables by users; this subject has suffered much from insufficient

user knowledge in an era of more exotic components. It is logical to be-

lieve that this increased interest should result in

improved application of

cables,

occipy.

given

leading

to

Regarding our

greatly

increased

reliability.

Figure 6 and Mr.

that,

in

Stolpe's equation 9, the apparent

trays