The Properties of Electrical PVC Conduit

Updated February 21, 2017

PVC electrical conduits are electrical piping systems used to protect and guide the routing of wiring. PVC conduits for electrical wiring are available in rigid, semi-rigid and flexible formats. PVC composition conduits are highly beneficial, better suited for installation in situations where conduits are exposed to weather, abrasion or corrosive conditions.

Types of PVC Conduit

PVC conduit systems are categorised on the basis of thickness, quality of PVC and mechanical stiffness of the tubing. They are used for piping electrical wiring above and below the ground. Some PVC conduit is rigid, similar to PVC plumbing. Thinner-walled PVC conduit is semi-rigid, and can be flexed when installed. PVC conduit is also available in corrugated, flexible style. Flexible conduit is preferred for installations in vehicles, where wiring must bend and snake its way through the body of a car or fuselage of an aeroplane.

PVC Conduit Types

Electrical PVC conduits have a number of properties which make them ideal for rugged outdoor conditions. They are lightweight and less expensive than their metal counterparts. PVC piping systems are available in different wall thicknesses, and hence can be chosen according to requirements and terrain of a specific installation. They are also UV light stable, and will not break down when exposed to direct sunlight. The product can be embedded in concrete without risk of corrosion, and thus is suitable for burial as well as exposed above-ground work.

Water Resistance

PVC resists water and moisture. Properly installed conduit is impervious to water, which means it also protects the wiring installed in the conduit. PVC conduit is abrasion-resistant, and will withstand friction without cracking or mechanical failure. For these reasons, PVC conduit is used extensively for outdoor and underground installations. The anti-moisture properties add longer functional life and improved mechanical protection to the wiring running through the lines. PVC conduit accommodates slip-on fittings, as well as glued-on fittings that can be solvent-welded together for watertight connections.

Rigid vs. Flexible

PVC conduits that are flexible have a spiral profile, and are perfect for rugged industrial usage. They are manufactured in long coils to specific diameters. Flexible conduit is installed in settings which require wire to follow a curved or twisting path while still protected by conduit. Rigid PVC conduits are fabricated in standard diameters, and come if 10-foot lengths. While rigid PVC will flex and bend, it cannot turn corners or snake through the frame of a vehicle like the flexible types. Rigid PVC conduit is used with angled fittings when it's routed around corners or up walls.

Corrosion Resistance

Rigid PVC conduit is ingrained with high amounts of flexibility, and corrugated PVC offers high pliability. These properties make the material resistant to weather. They do not deform or corrode like metal conduit can. PVC conduit piping systems are safely used for underground cables and burying in or under concrete. They are tough and resistant to abrasion. They also withstand highly variable temperature ranges and hence are well suited for industries and factories which have high temperatures, such as iron works plants or manufacturing plants where porcelain coatings are baked onto metal parts. PVC conduit is also a popular choice to protect cables which are subject to gases such as toxic and non-toxic fumes used by industrial paint manufacturers and chemical plants.

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About the Author

Since 2003, Timothy Burns' writing has appeared in magazines, management and leadership papers. He has contributed to nationally published books and he leads the Word Weavers of West Michigan writers' group. Burns wrote "Forged in the Fire" in 2004, and has published numerous articles online. As a trained conference speaker, Burns speaks nationally on the art, science and inspiration of freelance writing.