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Next Generation in Health Care Cable: HCF MCAP®

Patient care areas of health care facilities are surrounded by metal, liquids and various electronic equipment. As such, the environment yields big potential for stray currents that can be detrimental to patients. Because of these issues, in all patient care areas of healthcare facilities, there is a requirement to provide redundant forms of grounding. To accomplish this, Section 517.13 of the National Electric Code® (NEC®) requires that any branch circuit wiring that feeds patient care areas must have two things: (1) the metal conduit or metal sheath of a cable must qualify as a grounding conductor, and (2) a green insulated grounding conductor must be installed and connected.  Traditionally, designers and installers of health care facilities had two choices when selecting their branch circuit wiring:  pipe and wire or Health Care Facility (HCF) Type AC cable.

Pipe and Wire Branch Circuits

Pipe and wire is an option that is used for branch circuit wiring in health care facilities.  This wiring method requires more planning, has more components, and more installation processes than HCF cable.  The pipe is available in a variety of diameters and comes in 10-foot lengths.  The pipe is rigid and must be bent in the field as needed to achieve the desired routing.  Couplings are required to join the10-foot sections.  Once the conduit is installed, the electrician must come back and manually pull the wire through.  It’s a lengthy and tedious process.  Per section 517.13 of the NEC, the metal conduit qualifies as a grounding conductor and the addition of a green ground provides the redundant ground requirement.  While the conduit ground path can be very good, the connection or ground path integrity is only as reliable as the couplings that connect the conduit.

HCF AC Cable

The HCF AC cable option is commonly selected for its advantages over pipe and wire branch circuits.  HCF AC cable has wires preinstalled, which means there is no need to pull the wire.  It is flexible and continuous which eliminates the need for field bending and couplings.  With HCF AC cable, the multistage process of pipe and wire is gone, resulting in both speed and cost advantages.   Per Section 517.13 of the NEC, the armor qualifies as a grounding conductor and the addition of a green ground provides the redundant ground.  The armor ground path is very reliable because it does not have couplings that can loosen over time, however the ground path performance is not as good as a grounding conductor.

Now there is a new form of healthcare cable that is a HCF Type MC cable product, HCF MCAP® cable, which offers improvements in installation productivity, cost and safety.   


All HCF cables are not equal. HCF MCAP, a Type MC cable, replaces Type AC cable and with it brings a significantly better armor ground path performance – over 350 percent on 12 AWG cable - and vastly improved installation performance.  What does that mean for you?  Improved grounding performance and reliability.  Additionally, HCF MCAP cable is a Type MC cable, not a Type AC cable, making it easier to install and allowing for more conductors in a cable.  This means greater installation productivity and faster completion.


Full-Sized Equipment Grounding/Bonding Conductor

One of the greatest benefits gained using HCF MCAP Type MC cable is that HCF MCAP cable offers a full-sized equipment grounding/bonding conductor.  In fact, HCF MCAP cable is the first interlocked armor cable that meets NEC 517.13 requirements for redundant equipment ground for conductor paths in health care facilities.  Unlike the 16 AWG bonding strip in conventional HCF (Type AC) cable, the aluminum grounding/bonding conductor is sized based on NEC Table 250.122.  And, HCF MCAP cable has no limits on the number of conductors in a cable, whereas Type AC cable for health care is limited to four current-carrying conductors.  That means you may see multiple neutrals and home run cables where HCF MCAP cable is used.  

Bonding / Grounding Conductor Size Comparison

 HCF Cable Size  HCF MCAP Cable  AC Cable
 12 AWG Cable  10 AWG  16 AWG
 10 AWG Cable  8 AWG  16 AWG


HCF MCAP Cable is Easier to Install Than HCF AC Cable

In addition to providing a better armor ground path, HCF MCAP cable is easier to install than HCF AC cable.  Anti-short bushings are not required with HCF MCAP cable, single tape covering versus individually paper-wrapped conductors, secure and support every 6 feet versus 4.5 in addition to no conductor limits with HCF MCAP cable.

Southwire HCF MCAP Type MC Cable fully meets the applicable requirements of UL 1569 Standard for Metal-Clad Cables, NFPA 70 Electrical Code, UL 83 Standard, Federal Specification A-A595544 (formerly J-C-30-B), and IEEE 1202 (70,000 BTU/hr) Vertical Cable Tray Flame Test.  Southwire HCF Type MC Cable is listed for use in UL 1, 2, and 3 Hour Through-Penetration Firestop Systems.

For more specific questions, feel free to contact Richard Temblador, Director, MCAP® Business Development, at 770.832.5337.