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What is Underground Conduit and What are its Applications?

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Applications of Underground Conduit

Electrical conduit is the system used to protect and route electrical wiring -  it's essentially a type of piping that the wiring passes through. Which type of conduit is used depends on the materials from which it is made, and what your project requires:  fibre, plastic, or metal.  Conduit can also be flexible or rigid, and normally your electrician will install them wherever they are required.  The following are the types of conduits with an explanation of where they are used:

Galvanized Rigid Conduit (RMC)

This conduit is made from galvanized steel tubing which is thick enough to protect the electrical wiring from being hit even as it allows it to be threaded. They are usually the thickest of all conduits and are suitable for use in areas with extreme conditions. If you want to run wires under driveways and service feeder installations, this is the conduit to use. Compared to all the other types of conduits, this is more expensive. In most companies, you will find them installed in the piping of service entrance areas because of its ability to withstand powerful winds, storm damage, and falling tree branches.

Electrical Metallic Tubing (EMT)

Electrical metal tubing is made of steel or aluminum although it is cheaper than the galvanized rigid conduit.  These conduits are best used in industrial and commercial buildings due to their ability to be bent to a specific radius. They may also be used in walls. In residential construction projects, it provides protection against exterior corrosion.

Flexible Metallic Conduit

This is basically a hollow tube through which electrical wires pass. They are great in places that require close quarters and tight bends. Regular conduit wouldn’t be very useful in achieving this as you wouldn’t be able to get a bent when you want it. If you need to use conduit in dry areas, pick this one. For the type with a plastic waterproof coating, you can use it to do general wiring in wet or damp locations. You can use it for concrete embedded, site lighting, as well as direct burial. You will find these in water heaters and attic vents.

PVC Conduit

This type of conduits are waterproof and that’s why they are used in underground applications as well as wet locations. They usually come with their own elbows, connectors, couplings, and PVC fittings. Since they are made of plastic, PVC conduits are non-conductors. You therefore have to run a green ground wire so as to give it the correct grounding at connecting points. PVC conduits are easy to work with as you can easily connect them using a cleaner and PVC glue. PVC comes with a higher thermal coefficient of expansion which means it can easily expand and contract. That’s why you should avoid installing it in multiple or parallel run configurations. If you don’t observe this, there can be problems in cable performance due to mutual heating.

Aluminum Electrical Conduits

This type of rigid conduit is commonly used in industrial and commercial applications. Aluminum is a non-corrosive metal. That’s why this type of electrical conduits are used to prevent corrosion in areas that have large amounts of water which are corrosive prone. These conduits may not work very well in concrete since aluminum reacts with the alkalis in cement. However, with an additional coating, they will just do fine. Some of the most-preferred places it is used are in walls or concrete slabs.

Electrical Non-Metallic Tubing

Here is an example of another electrical conduit made of a thin-walled corrugated tubing. It is not only flame retardant but also moisture resistant. This type of conduit is easy to bend by hand making its installation very simple. The only issue is the fittings used to connect the non-metallic tubing. Since they are very rigid, the fittings are very hard to bend. You would use this type of conduit if you want faster installation and lower costs.

Liquid-Tight Flexible Non-Metallic Conduit

There are a number of types of flame resistant non-metallic tubing and liquid-tight  is just one of them. It is best used as a raceway for the installation of approved conductors with 600 volts nominal rating or less for locations with few hazards. It may come with smooth or corrugated interiors.

Where is it used generally?

In our area, the most common uses for underground conduit are to route electricity to outbuildings (like shops, sheds, cottages, and suites), for running electricity to septic pumps or well houses, and for outdoor landscaping lighting (like driveway lights and outdoor accent lights).  Properly installed underground electrical can increase the value and safety of your property and your enjoyment of it.


Contact us at Jaycox Electric and we can recommend the best conduit for your project.