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Conductor and

Cable Sizing
The purpose of Conductor and Cable Sizing is to result in tremendous expense, particularly on large
determine how best to transport a given current, projects.
determined by voltage, through an insulated
conductive material. Calculations for conductor and To avoid costly errors, correct cable size
cable size must take into account specified distances computations must be derived by getting two cable
and raceways, and they must allow for various size figures: 1) terminal temperature size, and 2)
environmental conditions, which includes derated size.
minimizing heat generated from resistance or
impedance of the cable itself. To calculate terminal temperature size you need:
- Ambient temperature adjustment
Automated Ampacity Table Selection - Terminal temperature in ºC
Volts automatically selects the correct NEC® - Correct NEC® ampacity table
ampacity table based on values you put in. With
every ampacity table supported – 310.1 through To calculate derated size you need:
310.86 – the appropriate table is referenced, taking - Ambient temperature adjustment
any or all of the following into account: - Altitude
- Covered or uncovered cable tray
- Cable configuration - Depth buried
- Conductor material - Multiconductor cable
- Electrical duct - Number of current-carrying
configuration conductors in a single raceway
- Insulation type - Soil resistivity (RHO)
- Raceway type - Correct NEC® ampacity table
- Voltage
Once these two figures have been determined, the
Automated Protection Sizing larger of the two cable sizes is utilized, at which time
voltage drop is considered. The sequence is the key.
Once user-defined protection
increase factors are applied
This dual-figures process of calculating cable size is
based on an items rated
complicated, we admit, and it is often misunderstood
ampacity, Volts selects the
by companies to the detriment of their bottom line.
correct circuit breaker or fuse
But with Volts, cable sizing is quick and simple to
protection size from a user-
calculate and right on the money every time.
defined database, whichever
best fits the increase in ampacity.
Automated Ground Conductor Sizing
Automated Conductor or Cable Sizing Based on the item’s protection size, Volts selects the
Oversized cables are often the result of putting too correct ground conductor size utilizing NEC® tables
many computational elements together too soon. 250.122 or 250.66. If the current-carrying conductor
When calculations begin, if all of the various derating size was increased from its minimum size to
factors are lumped in with the cable's ending terminal compensate for voltage drop, Volts adjusts the ground
temperature details, a “double-derating” will result. size by the ratio of the minimum vs. current
With the high cost of copper today, miscalculation can conductor’s area, making these computations easy.

800.295.8935 916.681.0513 Dolphins Software www.dolphins-software.com

Conductor and Cable Sizing
or Cable

NEC® Tables Correct
310.1 - 310.86 NEC®
Cable configuration
Conductor material
Electrical duct configuration
Insulation type
Raceway type
Protection Increase
Use Rated Protection
(Option Use
OCPD Size)

Adjust Ambient Temperature
Ampacity and Capacity Increase

Terminal Environmental
Temperature Derating
Consideration Consideration
Conductor material Altitude
Insulation Type Covered or uncovered cable tray
Terminal temperature Depth buried
Multiconductor cable
Number of current-carrying
Size Use
conductors in a single raceway
Ground per Equipment Soil resistivity (RHO)
per Electrode Larger
Conductor Size

Check Size Apply IEEE Std 141, Exact Formulae

Less Than or Equal Voltage Drop NEC® Resistance / Reactance Tables
To Conductor Size Considerations with Temperature Correction

Final Ground Size Final Conductor or Cable Size

Duplication of this chart in any form is prohibited unless permitted in Volts is a registered trademark of Dolphins Software
writing by Dolphins Software. Dolphins Software All Rights Reserved

Reprinted with permission from NFPA 70 2008, NEC® copyright© 2008, National Fire Protection Association. This is not the complete and official position of
the NFPA on the referenced subject which is represented only by the standard in its entirety.
The title National Electric Code® and the acronym NEC® are registered trademarks of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

800.295.8935 916.681.0513 Dolphins Software www.dolphins-software.com