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I was helping a friend troubleshoot a wiring problem in his hunting "cabin." It was actually an old house on about 200 acres of land. Out in the boonies. Away from civilization. And any electrical supplier or home improvement store. For miles …

Getting from Point A to Point B – Electrical Raceways

Steve Maurer, IME
I was helping a friend troubleshoot a wiring problem in his hunting "cabin." It was actually an old house on about 200 acres of land.

Out in the boonies. Away from civilization. And any electrical supplier or home improvement store. For miles …

For some reason, several of his receptacles weren't working, and some of the lights flickered in the living room. Of course, this just won't do in a "rustic" hunting cabin! After all, he hosted his buddies for hunting parties during deer season (and hosted card parties the rest of the year).

When the animal game was scarce, the televised sports games were there for them. But without power, the TV and cable wouldn't run. And his generator was so loud you couldn't hear the announcers.

I've got a sneaking suspicion that more beer was downed than deer!

Anyway … I digress.

We tracked down some wiring that was chewed up by the local squirrel community. And low and behold, I saw something that I hadn't seen in years … knob-and-tube wiring.

We repaired the damage with good old Romex (somehow it was me that ended up in the tight spaces beside the brick fireplace and the walls). I let him know it would be an excellent idea to rewire the old house and bring it up to code …

Right before I made my hasty retreat, that is.

Modern Electrical Raceways … What a Blessing!
I tell that story (and it still gives me nightmares) to segue into the topic of commercial and industrial raceways. Over my 30+ years as an industrial electrician, I've come across some pretty shoddy work. But fortunately, nothing like the hunting cabin fiasco.

Of course, industrial wiring must be run in raceways – no knob-and-tube allowed. But even when using raceway, you've got to make good choices.

Conduit, of course, is probably the most prevalent type of raceway. However, busways and fabricated raceway cabinets are also used for particular installations.

You want something that will hold up under the expected equipment environment. Partly because, as you're probably well aware, if a condulet or box is going to fail, it's never the one on the end of the run.

Oh, no … it'll be smack dab in the middle of a complicated configuration. And then you've got to pull EVERY wire back to some common point, cut the conduit back to good material, rethread it, add to it, and …

Sorry, I digressed. Again.

But, honestly … it's more than just about upkeep and maintenance.

Raceway Does More …
Than just transport your conductors from point A to point B.

In the food and beverage industry, it also impacts food safety. For example, stainless steel conduit not only resists corrosion, but helps to keep contamination at bay. Because it's less susceptible to damage from harsh cleaning chemicals, it allows sanitation teams to ensure our food is processed in a sanitary, germ-free environment.

Actually, in many processing plants, stainless steel conduit and raceways have not only become the norm, but the requirement from their engineering departments.

In other environments, steel and aluminum conduit raceway are often protected by a PVC coating on the outside and a urethane coating on the interior.

A word of caution: Make sure you use the appropriate gaskets and follow the installation requirements to the tee. Nicks or missing coatings may cause voids that are prone to corrosion damage.

Finally, Don't Forget the Accessories.
If the installation is performed in corrosive environments, support the conduit or raceway with Unistrut or brackets that will also hold up under those conditions.

The cost of installation may be higher. But the cost of repair or replacement is kept to a minimum.
Of course, PVC conduit is an option for corrosion resistance. One caveat, though. You might want to support it with more racks or clamps to keep it from sagging.

Heat can really do a number on it.

Additionally, even though you run the appropriate grounding conductors, you loose the grounding properties of metallic conduit. So, don't mix and match where you might lose that additional protection.
Photo courtesy of ROBROY Industries
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