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Wire Labeling

Written by Steve Hudgik

What standards and codes need to be followed for wire labeling? The NEC only has general requirements stating that cable and wiring labeling must be done, but it does not provide the specifics of how this should be done.

ANSI and TIA specify, in detail in the 606-A code, where wire labeling is needed and the design of wire labeling in telecommunications infrastructure. This code, although not applicable to other types of wiring, provides good guidelines for wire labeling in general.

For example, 606-A requires that wire labeling have adequate size and color contrast so that the wire labels can easily be read. It also states that wire labels need to be positioned so they are visible during wire installation and normal maintenance activities. In addition, wire labeling must be resistant to the environmental conditions where it is located.

These are basic common sense wire labeling requirements for any installation.

606-A also specifies the naming and numbering conventions for various types of telecommunications infrastructure. The principles from 606-A that can be applied universally to wire labeling are that the naming and numbering:

  • Is logical
  • Has a hierarchy that identifies the physical location of the termination (building, floor, etc.)
  • Is consistent throughout the facility
  • Matches project drawings
  • Allows for standard label sizes that can easily be read
  • Is approved by all stakeholders

One of the fundamentals of wire labeling is that wire labels should not be hand-written. Instead use a thermal transfer printer, such as a DuraLabel PRO, to efficiently make clear, easy-to-read wire labels. DuraLabel thermal transfer printing, using supplies designed for wire marking, provides long-lasting smudge-proof wire labels.

Two basic types of materials are most commonly used for wire labeling, polyolefin shrink tube and self-laminating wire-wraps.

Polyolefin shrink tube wire labels slip over the unterminated end of the wire and are heat shrunk to a tight fit on the wire.

Self-laminating wire wraps provide a tough-tested vinyl label that has a clear tail that wraps around the wire, covering and protecting the printed portion of the wire labeling.

Which is the best for wire labeling? It depends on the situation. Shrink tube requires electricity to run a heat gun, so shrink tube wire labels cannot be used in locations where a power source is not available. Also, shrink tube cannot to placed on wires that are already terminated. Self-laminating wire wraps do not require electric power for installation and may be installed on terminated wires. Shrink tube wire labeling has the advantage of being easier to install and get a perfect fit every time.

DuraLabel has the right thermal transfer printers and the tough-tested supplies needed for effective wire labeling. From the hand-held DuraLabel 2000 to the desktop DuraLabel PRO printer, you can always get the right custom label printer for the job. Plus, with DuraLabel printers you always get more... more capabilities so you can make pipe markers, conduit labels, arc flash labels and OSHA safety signs in addition to doing wire labeling. Call 1-888-326-9244 today and ask for your free sample labels.

The information presented in this document was obtained from sources that we deem reliable; Graphic Products does not guarantee accuracy or completeness. Graphic Products, Inc. makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied. Users of this document should consult municipal, state, and federal code and/or verify all information with the appropriate regulatory agency.

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