Article
Fiber optic technology has become standard where high bandwidth capacity is required – data centers being a prime example of such applications. Like other cabling products, fiber optic cables all can look pretty similar from the outside. However, just as electrical cabling comes in different varieties to meet every application’s specific safety requirements, so, too, do fiber optic offerings.

Ratings Matter When Specifying Fiber Optic Cable

Chuck Ross
Fiber optic technology has become standard where high bandwidth capacity is required – data centers being a prime example of such applications. Like other cabling products, fiber optic cables all can look pretty similar from the outside. However, just as electrical cabling comes in different varieties to meet every application’s specific safety requirements, so, too, do fiber optic offerings. Understanding the ratings used to describe where specific fiber optic products are allowed is a key step in in their specification.

Following is a quick guide to the rating system for fiber optic cables.

OFNP plenum rated cable must have passed a stringent burn test, which makes it suitable for installing in air plenum spaces above dropped ceilings or under raised floors. In addition to fire resistance, these cables also feature low smoke production. No other cable types can be substituted in plenum applications.

OFCP plenum rated cable has passed the same fire-resistance and smoke-production testing, as OFNP products, but their design incorporates metallic elements – generally, this means some sort of armoring. As a result, these cables can conduct electricity.

OFNR riser rated cable, as the name suggests, are designed for runs between floors through open vertical shafts. These products cannot be used in plenum applications because they lack the low-smoke rating of OFNP cable. However, OFNP cable can be substituted for OFNR in riser settings.

OFCR riser rated cable is the riser equivalent of OFCP cable – it’s identical to OFNR cable, with the addition of metallic elements, such as armoring. So, also like OFNR, it conducts electricity.

LSZH low smoke, zero halogen cable doesn’t incorporate the kind of PVC-based materials other fiber optic products contain, which create toxic smoke when burned. These products are sometimes called “low-toxicity.” If they also meet OFNR rating requirements, they might be labelled OFN-LS or OFNR-LS.

OSP non-flame rated cable is meant for outdoor use only. They don’t contain flame suppressants and they produce toxic gases when burned, so building codes may restrict how far installers can route this material into buildings before it must be terminated.
Photo courtesy of Panduit
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