What is the British standard for cable drums weights and dimensions?

Cable drums come in many different sizes and weights depending somewhat on the materials they are made of. Usually, materials include plywood, timber, plastic, or metal, depending on the weight and type of cable they are expected to support and whether they are designed to be reusable and/or returnable. Additionally, the choice of material for the drums may depend on whether the drums and cables are being stored indoors or outdoors.

Drum sizes are typically determined by the flange height or drum diameter, the drum barrel or drum core, the width of the drum, and the inside width.


  • Plastic drums range from 400mm to 1000mm and carry loads of up to 850kgs.
  • Plywood reels range from 125mm to 1500mm and carry loads of up to 2 tonnes.
  • Wooden drums range from 250mm to 4500mm and carry loads of up to 60 tonnes.
  • Steel drums can vary in size from 630mm to 10000mm and carry loads of up to 250 tonnes.

How should electrical cable drums be stored?

The appropriate storage of cable drums and the electrical cable it contains will depend on both the type of drum and whether or not the cable itself is designed for indoor or outdoor use. The following points should be noted:

  • – Plywood drums are not suitable for outside storage unless protected from moisture.
  • – Wooden drums are not suitable for long-term storage outdoors unless protected from moisture.
  • – Cable drums should be stored on the firm and well-drained ground.
  • – Cable should be covered from direct sunlight.
  • – Protective lagging or covering should be used to protect against UV and weathering effects.
  • – Any cable stored outdoors should be sealed to protect from water ingress.
  • – Cables should be protected from mechanical damage.
  • – Drums should be stored on their edges and never on the flanges.
  • – Drums should be secured and prevented from rolling into one another, causing damage due to misalignment.

(Source: BS8512 is the British Standard for code of practice for handling, installation, and disposal of cables on wooden drums.)

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