Canadian Electrical Industry News Week

Section 4By Pierre McDonald

Last month my article Conductor Ampacities and Their Temperature Rating outlined the implications and reasons for temperature requirements when sizing conductors using Rule 4-006 and the revised ampacity tables of the 2012 edition Canadian Electrical Code (CE Code). While this is an important rule with respect to the use and installation of conductors, there were several changes within Section 4 — Conductors, which should also be explored. 

 Rules 4-004(1)(d)(e)(f) for copper conductors and 4-004(2)(d)(e)(f) for aluminum conductors have been adjusted to remove any ambiguity as to when the code user can use the IEEE 835 standard for power cable ampacities. 

Previous wording of these rules required the code user to use the IEEE 835 standard in all cases (in conductor sizes No. 1/0 AWG and larger, in an underground run, directly buried or in a raceway), yet the Appendix B Notes contained Installation diagrams and Appendix D contained ampacity tables associated with these diagrams, all in conformance with the IEEE 835 Standard. 

The revised wording now specifies that the code user must use ampacity tables D8A through D15B for installations described in the Appendix B Diagrams B4-1 to B4-4, and use the IEEE 835 Standard only for configurations not specified in the diagrams. For conductor sizes smaller than 1/0 AWG, the code user has the choice of using Table 2 for Copper or Table 4 for Aluminum, or the calculation method as described in the IEEE 835 Standard. 

4-004 Ampacity of wires and cables (see Appendices B and I)

(1) The maximum current that a copper conductor of a given size and insulation may carry shall be as follows:

(d) single-conductor and 2-, 3-, and 4-conductor cables and single-conductor and 2-, 3-, and 4-conductor metal-armoured and metal-sheathed cables, in conductor sizes No. 1/0 AWG and larger, installed in accordance with configurations described in Diagrams B4-1 – B4-4 in an underground run, directly buried or in a raceway, as specified in Tables D8A through Table D15B;

(e) underground configurations not specified in item (d), in conductor sizes No. 1/0 AWG and larger, as calculated by the IEEE 835 calculation method; and 

(f) underground configurations in conductor sizes smaller than No. 1/0 AWG, as specified in Item (b) or as calculated by the IEEE 835 calculation method.

Note that 4-004(2)(d)(e)(f) is worded identically but is intended for aluminum conductors.

Additional changes have occurred in Rule 4-004, Subrules 9, 10, 12 and 13 to deal with de-rating factors of conductors in free air. Single conductor free air ampacities are permitted with one cable diameter (100%) spacing (Rules 4-004(1)(a) and 4-004 (2)(a)) but not for any other spacing. These changes describe requirements for the code user in situations where cables have maintained spacing between 25% and 100% of the cable diameter and those situations with less than 25% spacing. These changes bring the rules in 4-004 and 12-2210 into better alignment.

Rules 4-008, 4-012, 4-020 and 4-040 have all been reworded to better define the conditions of use. Specific wording indicates that the conductors specified in each rule

…shall be suitable for the particular location involved with respect to, but not limited to:

(a) moisture;

(b) corrosive action;

(c) temperature;

(d) degree of enclosure; and

(e) exposure to mechanical injury.

These rules cover insulated conductors as described in Table 19 and flexible cords, equipment wire and portable power cables as described in Table 11. While this change expands on the need to consider key criteria in the selection of conductors, cords, equipment wire and cables, Table 19 and Table 11 continue to serve as the main reference for selecting the appropriate wiring products.

Changes to Rule 4-010 include the rewording of the heading to the rule, the addition of Subrules (3), (4), (5) and (6), and substantial explanatory notes in Appendix B. These requirements provide direction when dealing with induced voltages and consolidate requirements that were once part of Rule 12-3022. If you remember your electrical theory, an alternating magnetic field is always associated with an alternating current-carrying conductor that induces a voltage onto the sheath. While this fact is true with all sheathed conductors, we only concern ourselves with those specific single conductors that carry 200 amps and more. 

Additionally, terminating these conductors into ferrous metal boxes will cause excessive heat to be generated due to the magnetic field that surrounds the conductors. In fact, any ferrous metal surrounding a conductor with substantial current flow will generate heat within that metal. Requirements of the CE Code go so far as to eliminate single conductors from entering individual openings, using non-metallic or non-ferrous boxes, connectors, cable glands, locknuts, bushings and ground bushings or terminating all cables that make up a circuit through a non-ferrous plate with a common opening. The Appendix B note to these rules provides additional background information and intent of this rule.

Rule 4-024 Size of Neutral Conductor, which allows for a reduced size of neutral conductor, has been revised to include one more situation where the neutral conductor cannot be reduced in size. For those neutral conductors connected to non-linear loads, there shall be no reduction in the size of that neutral. Non-linear loads can cause the phase currents to add up, which could result in a higher neutral current than phase current. Examples of non-linear loads are listed in the Appendix B note to the rule.

Finally, Section 4 rules now recognize the use of DLO power cables in Rules 4-040(4) and 4-042(2). DLO stands for Diesel-Electric Locomotive , and these cables have been included in the latest edition C22.2 No. 96 standard. They  find their uses in oil & gas drilling rigs, permanent / temporary power installations, motor leads (where flexibility is a must) and wind turbine applications. DLO cable ampacities can be found in Table 12E.

With these changes, the appropriate conductors can be used within their intended applications. Section 4 has been revised in the 2012 edition to meet the ampacity requirements of the CE Code-NEC Ampacity task force, recognize safer installation requirements, introduce new cables, and set parameters around certain conductor installations as our electrical loads change. The revisions made to the above code rules, along with their supporting tables, bring the necessary clarification forward to allow better application of code for many scenarios.


Pierre McDonald, CET, is Senior Regulatory Affairs Representative/Répresentant Principal, Affaires Réglementaires, Underwriters Laboratories of Canada Inc. Based in St. Albert, AB, Pierre has been a member of the Canadian Electrical Code Part 1 technical committee as well as several subcommittees including serving as Chair of Sections 6 and 76 and as a member representing regulators on several other CSA committees. Pierre is still active with code development and interpretation.

Read last month's article here:

 Other articles by this author:

2015 CE Code: Changes on “Approved Electrical Equipment” 

Code and Public Safety 

Section 62: Fixed Electric Heating Systems 

Now Available: CAN/ULC Standard on Electric Utility Workplace Electrical Safety

Establishing When the CE Code Becomes Mandatory 

UL Code Link 

CAN/ULC-S576-14, Standard for Mass Notification System Equipment and Accessories 

Canadian CE Code Changes: Section 20 and More 

Meeting National Building Code of Canada Requirements 

Conductor Ampacities and Their Temperature Rating 

Codes and Standards - Provincial Legislation and the Administrative Requirements of the CE Code 

Changes to Section 12 Wiring Methods 


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