When electricians are getting started wiring in residential settings, the first thing they have to decide is the type of wiring to be used. Determining the right kind of wiring will make the work easier for them, and there will also be lesser wiring inconsistencies, hence, completing the work by hand. Electrical conduit is one of the many essential aspects every electrician must get to experience handling. It refers to durable tubing and other types of wiring enclosures used to provide and protect a route for electrical wiring conductors.
Here in this blog, we are going to discuss the electrical conduit and describe each of its seven common types.
What is Electrical Conduit?
A plastic or metal pipe where electrical wires are running is called an electrical conduit. Conduit is often used in any exposed locations like the exterior wall surface. It also protects the cables and is used for unfinished locations like attics, crawlspaces, basements, and even surface-mounted outdoors. At the very first glance, electrical conduit might seems quite similar to armored cable wiring. Like electrical conduit, insulated and lose individual wires are encased in armored cables. These cables stand for AC, and it can be used in any exposed areas.
Conduit is commonly used as a term to describe a system that contains a series of electrical conductors. The following reasons are why conduit systems are specifically installed:
- To provide cavities, particularly for the creation of taps and splices in conductors.
- To function as pull outlets for the installed conductors.
- To strongly connect conduit sections.
- · To provide taps, especially for branch conduit runs.
- Providing access for conductors in terms of future system and maintenance systems
- To create 90 degrees bends for conduit runs.
- To act as mounting outlets for lighting fixtures and wiring devices.
Different Types of Electrical Conduits
Conduit systems are generally classified on the materials used to make mechanical stiffness, tubing and wall thickness. The materials are selected for corrosion resistance and automatic protection after considering the cost factor. Several particular guidelines are needed to be explicitly followed for wiring equipment in unsafe areas where prior approval is required. The following types of conduit are generally used for residential and commercial lighting.
1. Electrical Metallic Tubing (EMT)
Electrical metal tubing (EMT) is one common example of an unbending conduit. It is generally made of galvanized steel but can be aluminum as well. EMT is typically described as the “thin-wall” conduit because it is thinner and lightweight compared to RMC. It might also be rigid, but it can easily be bent using a simple tool termed as a conduit bender.
EMT is installed with fittings and couplings that are completely secured with compression-type fasteners or setscrew. The tubing itself isn’t threaded like IMC or RMC. Furthermore, the standard sizes available for EMT include 1 inch to 1 and a half inches. Exposed indoor wiring is where EMT is generally used because it often runs in light commercial or residential construction. That is why it is equally essential to assemble it with special watertight fittings.
2. Rigid Metal Conduit (RMC)
RMC stands for the rigid metal conduit is heavyweight galvanized steel that is installed using threaded fittings. It has been used commonly outdoors to provide further protection from damage. Providing structural support, particularly for electrical panels, cables, and other equipment, is also important. RMC is only available to sell for about 10 to 20-foot lengths, and it must have threads on both ends.
Rigid metal is considered one of the most costly options for electrical wiring in the market. However, it greatly offers additional strength and durability, which is a huge plus.
3. Intermediate Metal Conduit (IMC)
IMC or intermediate metal conduit is more likely a lighter-weight and thinner version of RMC. However, it is equally approved to be utilized for all similar applications, just like RMC. In some cases, IMC is more common to use in construction because it is much lighter and easy to work into. It also offers the same level of protection as RMC and is considered a more economical alternative for projects where expenses are a big issue.
4. Flexible Metal Conduit (FMC)
FMC is also referred as “Greenfield,” derived from the name of the inventor. It has a spiral construction that has made it extremely flexible. The flexibility of FMC makes it adaptable through walls and even other structures. Standard FMC is usually used for dry indoor locations, which often last only for short runs.
Moreover, FMC is always a great substitute for many areas that require close quarters and tighter bends. The latter will make it harder to bend regular conduits. Lights, attic vents, and water heaters are common examples of basic flexible conduit installations.
5. Liquid-tight Flexible Metal (LFMC)
While LFMC or liquid-tight flexible metal conduit is a special type of flexible metal conduit used with necessarily sealed fittings and has a plastic coating, the parts that make up the entire LFMC has made it watertight. This metal electrical conduit is also used with outdoor equipment like air conditioner units.
6. Electrical Non-Metallic Tubing- ENT
ENT is a flexible corrugated plastic-type of tubing and is usually installed with glued plastic fittings or snap-lock. Additionally, when it comes to the installation and metal-frame walls or standard woods, ENT can be installed within concrete block structures and can be initially covered with concrete. Moreover, ENT is nicknamed a “smurfing tube” because of its blue color.
7. Rigid PVC Conduit
PVC or rigid polyvinyl chloride is quite similar to plastic plumbing pipe and allowed to corrosive environments. It is installed using plastic fittings that are directly glued in place. It can bend right after being heated within a portable heater box. The conduit assemblies can also be watertight because the fittings and conduit tubing are glued together. It is only proven that PVC is really suitable for a quick burial on the grounds and for several other applications.
Here are the advantages of using Rigid PVC:
- Available in various wall thicknesses
- Commonly less costly compare to other available options
- Extremely lightweight, versatile, and easy to install
- Works perfectly well both in undergrounds and concrete
With all of the advantages it provides, the PVC conduit was not recommended to be used in specific areas where direct sunlight is too exposed. The natural light comes from the sun breaks down the materials over time. Yet, overall, Rigid PVC is still a great option despite the handicaps.
Improving Electrical Project Delivery and Project Management System: 3 Systematic Approaches
Most of the automation system faults are commonly due to some wiring issues. Only experienced electricians are capable of installing a particular automation solution that guarantees reliability. Moreover, all electrical projects begin with a schedule where milestone dates are specified. Meeting the scheduled dates is the simplest yet very strategic goal of every project.
While the strategy is essential, paying closer to details is much more critical. If you are focusing more on the details, you can ensure any future electrical projects’ progress. It is true that even the grandest and elaborate project depends mostly on the smallest aspects. Hence, it is equally critical to visualize a detailed and systematic approach. Systematic approaches applied in managing electrical projects are outlined below.
Communication, detail management, and feedback
General project milestones and critical path method (CPM) are where every single process starts. Observing all activities shown on the CPM schedule on a particular project over three weeks is imperative. Project leaders and contractors who lead the team must start breaking down these tasks and activities into details.
They need to make some notes about workforce needs and specific job responsibilities. Combine all the notes and make them into one detailed listing. Above all, constant communication between the teams is highly suggested. Also, based upon the feedback, you better summarize all completed tasks and those items that are not yet finished.
The CPM project schedule
The details in making a project schedule with CPM is definitely beyond the entire scope. The project leaders need to know how to pick out more likely critical activities for the project. There will be activities being shown with red bars. Red bars indicate a crucial status in the project, which means that the activities under it should be started and completed on time and within budget. Otherwise, no one can obtain the completion date for the project.
Collaborative Project Planning Software
Deploying a project management application means that everyone from the team who works for the project can access project information and documentation. Using the software application allows project leaders to simplify project management and improve relationships with other members. Cloud-based software is very beneficial because files and documentation can be accessed by anyone anywhere and anytime.
Monitoring budget, updates, crew, labor hours, and even some common scheduling changes are easier and more convenient. The entire process has become paperless. It provides the ability to reduce the number of phone calls and emails and allows for transparency. Issues between the teams are reduced consistently.
Today’s electricians are taking advantage of well-developed conduit products of plastic, metal, and fiberglass. Additionally, various types of compatible fittings are facilitating wire-pulling and routine tasks. Conduit bodies are utilized for numerous complex ways in the electrical wiring system. Hence, mastering the art of electrical conduit is crucial to an electrician’s career.