0118 9325 120 sales@hcal.co.uk

The Dangers Of Counterfeit Cables

Over the past decade or so, the UK cable market has been flooded by a wave of counterfeit cables – be they power, data or coaxial cables – retailing for a fraction of the cost of their authentic equivalents. Not to be confused with non-OEM cables, which are clearly marked as not being made by the OEM, counterfeit cables are usually built overseas to resemble genuine cables, although it is often only in appearance that they share any similarity with the real deal.

What are Counterfeit Cables?

Counterfeit cables are designed with one thing in mind – profit. Produced in factories overseas, any corner that can be cut in the production of a counterfeit cable usually is, with no regard for meeting the strict British and European standards of cable manufacture. Although the savings from such processes are passed onto the consumer, this cutting of corners makes counterfeit cables extremely dangerous.

In some cases, the expensive copper used in conductors will be replaced by copper-plated aluminium. This small change means that the resistance inside the cable in increased, raising the risk of the cable catching fire and causing severe damage. Other areas of compromise include replacing materials used in vital jacketing with lower quality alternatives and no testing.

It goes without saying that counterfeit cables don’t work as well as their genuine equivalents either – ultimately, you get what you pay for. Whereas a reputable custom cable manufacturer would research the requirements of a client extensively and design a bespoke solution, counterfeiters will always put profit above performance, leading to poor data transmission and the faulty operation of electrical equipment.

So why counterfeit cables represent such an issue? Surely it’s down to the consumer to choose a higher quality cable rather than paying for cheaper alternatives? Well, not exactly. In most instances, counterfeit cables are impossible to tell apart from the cable they’re mimicking apart from in laboratory tests, meaning that well-meaning consumers thinking they’re getting a bargain are often duped into purchasing a low quality alternative. This has led to some estimating that up to 20% of cables for sale may not be safe.

Identifying a Counterfeit Cable?

So how can you avoid purchasing a counterfeit cable? The first step is to be vigilant whenever you’re shopping for a new cable. Check that the retailer or cable manufacturer has proper accreditation, Hunter Cable Assembly Ltd has been assessed and is certified to BS EN ISO 9001:2008 and our staff are IPC-620 Certified.

If you’ve never used the retailer before, then conduct on an online search for any warnings regarding that retailer.

Similarly, if the cost of a cable seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Although it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that a genuine retailer could be offering a bargain, most cables have a minimum cost designed to cover the cost of parts and manufacture. The lower this cost, the higher the chance that the cable is of a poor quality. If the cable is for sale in multiple outlets, cross-reference the varying prices.

When you receive the cable, there are a number of cable markings to look out for that can differentiate between a genuine cable and a counterfeit. Most cables will feature, from left to right:

  • The name of the manufacturer
  • The British standard number the cable has been designed to conform to BASEC marking, if the cable has been tested by the British Approvals Service For Cables (BASEC)
  • Conductor size.
  • A letter denoting the year the cable was built.
  • The country of origin.

If a cable lacks one or more of these markings, it should be considered cause for alarm. Of course, these markings can be – and often are – added without any testing taking place or standards being met so if you’re suspicious, request a testing certificate or contact the relevant accrediting body.

Although counterfeit cables are difficult to tell apart from authentic cables, making the distinction between the two is vital for good performance and your safety.

For more information about custom cable assembly call HCAL on 0118 9325 120 or send an email to sales@hcal.co.uk.