Electric wires are used in nearly everything we use daily, so it’s very important to be sure that they are protected. Conduits are used to cover electric wires to protect them from environmental conditions and any construction work near them. But does any electrical wire need to be in conduit?
Does Electrical Wire Need To Be in Conduit?
Not necessarily, The necessity of a conduit when installing wires depends on many things, the space, wiring exposed or covered, and the budget. So you should know when you need to use it and when not. You can start by looking at each factor and then decide which is more suitable for you. For example:
When To Use Conduit?
Conduit has many benefits:
- Doesn’t wear easily
These characteristics give conduits a huge advantage and make them the best solution to protect wires from wild animals like rodents. In addition, it protects the wires from getting damaged by being exposed. Conduit’s inner has a smooth texture, making it easy to pull your wires through it than to fit them through the walls’ holes.
One of the most important features of conduit that comes after protection is organization. Conduit helps you keep your wires together, making any electric task that pops up later easy. There are many types of conduits, and each of them is more suitable for a certain task, for example:
- PVC Conduit
You can use it for more simplicity, cut it and install it easily. It’s mainly used in areas subjected to water or humidity to protect electrical wires.
- Aluminum Conduit
Aluminum has one of the highest conductivities, so it’s preferred to use aluminum conduits in electrical appliances and applications. Recently, many industries have been changing to aluminum conduits.
Outdoor wiring is subject to your local regulations; you may need to check your regulations before using a conduit outdoor. However, conduits are very important for outdoor wiring, it protects your wires from environmental conditions, for example, snow and rain.
When Not To Use Conduit?
When using a conduit, you must consider the space inside the conduit left. Regulations have certain rules for the space that should be found inside the conduit. You can face a problem in the space inside when you have to bend the conduit around a corner or point. As a result, you can go for a bigger conduit, but this depends on your space in the working area.
So it’s best sometimes not to use a conduit. Another important factor that may limit you from using a conduit is your budget. Using conduits during installation raises your costs. So if you are limited on budget, you can choose not to use a conduit.
Does an Outdoor Electrical Wire Need To Be in a Conduit?
Yes, the outdoor electrical wire needs to be in a conduit for two reasons:
- Exposed wires need to be covered to protect them from damage and environmental conditions. It’s recommended that any buried wire should be at least 24″ underground. Unless it will need to be inside a conduit for protection.
- Receptacles, outer boxes, and exit/entry points should always be protected from environmental conditions. Such as sunlight exposure, rain, snow, and ultraviolet radiation. The best way to do this is through conduits due to their durability and long-lasting.
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Does Commercial Electrical Wiring Have To Be in Conduit if It’s Behind the Wall Covering?
This depends on your country’s code, for example:
In the USA, the national electric code changes code every two years according to the considerations of under writers lab and fire safety administration. So the conduit in the USA can be mandatory or not; it depends on some other factors. For example, a low voltage cable can be in conduit or not less. Unless it’s in a hospital, a conduit must be used.
In the UK, it’s a little different if the cable or the wire is sheathed and behind the wall, and either RCD/RCBO is used for protection. Then you don’t need to use a conduit. You can use it for purposes other than protection, for example, making wires installation easier meanwhile, if your wires don’t have RCD/RCBO protection or equivalent one inside the wall.
Then you must use a conduit or sheath for protection and hire a qualified electrician to do it. You can also bury the wires 50mm deep in the wall.
Does a Buried Electrical Wire Need To Be in a Conduit?
Yes, most of the time, but it depends on the wires used. If you have a direct burial wire, you wouldn’t need to use a conduit for protection. Meanwhile, if your wires are not suitable for direct burial, you should use a conduit.
How To Bury Underground Wire?
If you want to bury a wire underground, you need first to determine your soil type. If you have rocky or clay soil, you should dig as minimum as possible. Because you will use a conduit anyway, there is so need for digging so deep. However, if you have sandy soil, you can dig up as much as you can.
Sandy soil is easy to dig, and if you bury your wires or cables deep enough, you won’t need to use a conduit that can save you money. Second, you need to check your local code or inspector on what you should use for conduit or cable type. You should always follow the code; it’s important for your and others’ safety.
1- Determine The Depth
The depth of digging determines the type of conduit and the wire you can use. For example:
- 6-in, you should use RMC (rigid metal electrical conduit), which is galvanized.
- 12-in, you can use a direct burial cable (GFCI) and then add a PVC conduit to the house.
- 18-in or 24-in; you can use a PVC conduit for this depth.
2- Six Inches
This method uses the RMC (rigid metal electrical conduit), which is galvanized and has a 1/2 inch diameter. You can run the circuit size you want using this method. However, this method can cost a lot due to the price of the RMC (1/2 inch).
3- Twelve Inches
At 12 inches, you can go for a direct burial cable, for example, UF-B. However, it should follow certain criteria:
- GFCI protection.
- 120 volt limited.
- 20-ampere breaker or fuse maximum.
4- 18-Inch and 24-Inch
The PVC conduit is the best for both of these methods, but at the 24-inch, you also use a direct burial cable.
Here’s a detailed video on how to do it:
When Should I Use a Conduit for Electrical Wiring?
The main purpose of the conduit is protection; it protects both electrical wires and people. Electrical wires can get loose and lead to hazards that can put people’s lives in danger. Conduits should always be used to protect your wires in the future when doing any digging or electrical task. And they also organize your work area.
What Are the Types of Conduit?
Conduit has many types, and each type has a specific task, but the plastic conduit, PVC, and FMC are the most popular conduits. Each conduit is made of different material and used in a certain area for a certain reason, for example:
1- Plastic Conduit
The plastic conduit or rigid PVC conduit takes the shape of a plumping pipe. It’s made of PVC, which stands for polyvinyl chloride, this type of conduit is used in most daily applications. This conduit is known for being easily bent or shaped by heat.
EMT, or electrical metal tubing, it’s known for its thin walls and lightweight. It’s made up of aluminum and galvanized steel, making it rigid and not easily bent. So there’s a certain tool needed to bend it. Another benefit of being made up of aluminum is conductivity; this type can conduct electricity. Electrical metal tubing is mostly used indoors, such as in light fixtures.
The flexible metal conduit or FMC has a special shape (spiral) that helps it fit easily into many applications and tight spaces, and it gives it high flexibility. It can be used in dry and exposed areas indoor applications, for example, water heaters.
To sum up, conduits usage depends on many factors such as the space available, wiring exposed or covered, or the budget. So you need to consider a lot of things before using a conduit. After using a conduit you may still need to bury the wire. Burying a wire can be done in many methods, they depend on the soil you have and how much you can dig.
In the end, always check your local regulation or inspector before starting. Because not all countries have the same code.
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