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SureSeal® Helps Keep the Lights Lit

Small-diameter aluminum conductors need protection in direct-burial applications. Self-healing cables from Southwire provide it.

Keeping streets light going can be a challenge, because the underground services powering most street light systems are particularly vulnerable.

Root-growth from street-side trees, dig-ins from sidewalk repair and pin-holes from lightning surges are all enemies of small-gauge streetlight cables.

“Standard aluminum-conductor UD cables can pose a problem in streetlight applications because even minor damage to the insulation can permit electrolytic processes that destroy the entire conductor.” says Ron Burchfield, Southwire product manager.

The corrosion that destroys buried aluminum conductors begins when a small insulation break lets water seep into in the cable. The moisture starts an electrolytic process that can eventually turn the entire aluminum conductor into fluffy, white, aluminum oxide powder.

Copper is an expensive solution

Streetlight conductors in the range of #4 - #6 AWG are especially susceptible to corrosion damage. Because of this vulnerability, many utilities use copper conductors for streetlight power. The insulation of copper-conductor cables is still prone to dig-in damage, but copper is not subject to the destructive electrolytic reactions that can damage aluminum conductors.

While copper conductors are an effective solution to the problem of streetlight power reliability, copper is currently selling for nearly three times the price of aluminum. That makes copper an expensive solution. Southwire has a better answer to UD failures that start with cable trauma: SureSeal® self-healing 600V UD cables.

SureSeal® is a better answer

SureSeal® UD cables contain channels filled with an advanced, proprietary visco-elastic compound that flows quickly to seal insulation faults but limits the total range of flow. The sealant blocks moisture and also provides excellent insulation properties. The SureSeal® sealant-channel design also continues to provide better insulation bonding and cleaner stripping than self-healing designs that use a longitudinal tape to contain the sealant.

Utilities have been using SureSeal® successfully since its introduction in 2001. Two of the largest utilities in the country are now using SureSeal® exclusively for their streetlight applications. “We’ve never seen a utility try a pilot program and then drop the use of SureSeal®. They typically go system-wide with it,” says Burchfield.

Get cost-effective streetlight protection

In reducing the cost of buried service failures, SureSeal® offers a cost-effective alternative to deeper burial, copper service cables, and cable-in-conduit installations. SureSeal® cables install and handle just like conventional UD cables, and they work with normal splices and terminations.

Burchfield concludes, “No cable – aluminum or copper – can stand up to a catastrophic dig-through. When a cable end comes up in the backhoe bucket, there’s a problem. But SureSeal® self-healing 600V UD cables have gained a reputation for protecting direct-buried services from the main source of penetration problems: minor damage from shovels or debris, and lightning surges.”