It’s important to have fire rated cables that meet UL 2196 and the requirements of the code as well as know which type of cable will work best as well as save you money. Two common types of cables to compare are metal clad (MC) and mineral insulated (MI). Each meets the requirements of the code, but are different when compared to labor costs. Time is money and you can be spending a lot of money for someone to appropriately install a cable. Know what the cost effective solution is between MC and MI cables.
Mineral Insulated Cables
MI cables are electrical cables made from copper conductors inside a copper sheath, insulated by inorganic magnesium oxide power. MI cables inorganic construction makes them resistant to fires, so they are often used for fire protection. Below is a breakdown of the installation and termination costs:
- For purposes of example, if MI cable costs about $30,000. (Cost neutral to MC below)
- Depending on the cable size and installation location, labor rates will vary for MI cables. Hourly rates for contractors can be $100/ hour (depending on location).
- Other factors such as connectors, special tools and terminations need to be taken into account, which just add to the cost.
Metal Clad Cables
2-Hour Fire Rated MC Cables can be single or multi-conductor copper to meet the needs of the application. The copper conductor is insulated with a proprietary insulation which transforms to a ceramic during a fire event, making them optimal for fire protection. MC Cables are popular in large part because installation is generally considered to be more economical and cost effective.
- For purposes of this example the MC cable costs about $30,000. (Cost neutral to MI above)
- Depending on the cable size and installation location, labor rates will vary for MC, but are significantly lower than MI. At $100 / hour, the labor costs may be the most expensive part of your project.
- Additional costs also need to be added, but they are for connectors which are standard in the industry and can be obtained easily in the market at competitive costs.
For more information on the cost comparison of MI and MC cables using NECA labor rates, check out the link below.