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blue flexible electrical conduit running behind drywall that's been cut away.

Electrical Conduit

Originally contributed by Jeff Butler • last updated 1/14/2021

While wires and cables used around the home are often protected by insulated covers and sheathing, sometimes they need a stronger protective barrier, like an electric conduit, especially if they’re at a greater risk of being damaged or severed.

Definition

The term electrical conduit refers to a protective tubing that wires and cables are run through to help prevent damage to the conductors. Often found in residential and light commercial use, electrical conduit comes in various sizes and materials for different purposes, such as indoor and outdoor use. Some common types of electrical conduit found around the home are: Flexible conduit ENT (electrical nonmetallic tubing), which is commonly referred to as smurf tube; EMT conduit (electrical metal tubing), which is also called thin wall steel tubing, because of its light but rigid construction; and rigid conduit, or RMC, which is a strong galvanized steel tubing that’s often used for outdoor and workshop type applications.

When Is Conduit Required For Electrical?

Electrical conduit is typically required when wires need to be protected against potential external damage. However, some electrical conduit is installed for to make things easier and look better:

  • In some cases, electrical conduit is required by law, such as when you’re burying cables underground or leaving cables exposed. For example, if you’re running wire out to a shed or if you have exposed wire in your garage, it might be necessary to keep everything sealed up in electrical conduit.
  • In other cases, homeowners may want to install electrical conduit, such as flexible conduit ENT, commonly referred to as smurf tube, or PVC conduit, in order to make future wiring projects neat and simple. Works great for home entertainment and home security projects.
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