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Counterfeit mains cable warning

Approved Cables Initiative will publicise details of fake or counterfeit cableThe UK is being deluged with tens of thousands of kilometres of dodgy mains cable – sub-standard, counterfeit mains cable is entering the supply chain from overseas and is passed off as genuine product.

However, the fake cable's actual specification and quality are anything but safe, and they could burn out and cause dangerous electrical fires or even worse. They may all bear authentic markings but even ordinary flexible mains flex can be faked, using under-rated copper cores that have a higher resistance; these will overheat and burn out under load.

Cables destined for emergency lighting or alarm systems that should withstand heat for hours can burn out in a few minutes and emit poisonous fumes at the same time, because cheap PVC insulation is used instead of fire-resistant materials.

Up to one in five reels of electrical cables sold in the UK could be fake and about 20 million meters of this dangerous, non-compliant electrical cable were seized in just nine months by UK trading standards. It's shredded and the copper is recycled.

High metal prices have made it more attractive for disreputable manufacturers to cut corners on cable quality. One well-known UK DIY chain has been struggling to ensure that sub-standard Turkish-made cable had been withdrawn from sale. Some product slipped through the safety net and the same Atlas Kablo brand of cable may also have been used in the trade by electrical contractors.

The Approved Cables Initiative (ACI) has been established in the UK to address the issue of unsafe, non-approved and counterfeit cable entering the UK marketplace. Thay say their role is to investigate and publicise the findings of cables found to be faulty, counterfeit or non-compliant with British, European or International Standards.

It's hard to tell whether cable is genuine or not, so buy from reputable sources only that have a quality-controlled supply chain. More details, news and videos on the ACI website at