With a plethora of electronics in most homes and workplaces, wiring has become a force to reckon with. To keep your wires protected, a conduit, or cover for electrical wiring, is necessary. Electrical conduits are either rigid or flexible. True to its name, flexible conduit can be bent and used in cases where rigid conduits will not fit. This conduit is used primarily in dry areas, unless specifically waterproofed.
Types of Flexible Conduit
Both metallic and non-metallic conduits come in flexible varieties. The flexible conduit can be divided into four categories.
Flexible Metallic Conduit (FMC) is most commonly made of a single strip of steel or aluminium and used in wiring systems where the strength of the metal is needed, along with the flexibility. While the steel version has more strength, the aluminium is lightweight. The conduit is coiled into a spring-like shape. FMC is seen mainly in public buildings or manufacturing locations. While public places use them to protect their interior wiring systems, manufacturers use them to maintain heavy machinery and to guard against vandalism. However, this conduit is not waterproof, making it hazardous in areas high on moisture. FMC also has a shorter version, which are known as whips and are used between junction boxes.
Flexible Metallic Tubing (FMT), is similar to FMC, in a heavier, stronger form. This conduit is waterproof but has no plastic coating. The tubes sometimes have caps at the ends to enable them to act as connectors for electrical gadgets. This let the user plug the tube into a device
Non-metallic flexible conduit is also known as Liquid Tight Flexible Non-Metallic Conduit (LNFC). This conduit is flame-proof and also has a waterproof jacket which guards against moisture. It can be used in a variety of locations, including swimming pools and spas. LNFC is also non-corrosive and weighs less than flexible metallic conduit, thereby making it an ideal choice for air-conditioning and heating. These conduits can also be used outdoors.
Liquid Tight Flexible Metal Conduit (LFMC) has all the properties of the FMC, with the added advantage of a waterproof jacket that is fitted over the top. This means it can be used in damp or hazardous areas such as petrochemical factories and water treatment plants without any damage to the wires.
Advantages of these Conduits
Unlike a rigid conduit, flexible conduits can be bent or fixed into any shape you choose. The conduit will not retain a particular shape, which means it can be re-used in any form. They work very well in tight spaces. These conduits sometimes also have extra support in their walls, because of which they offer extra strength
If you're using a steel conduit, you can use it as an earth conductor, as it has low resistance. These conduits are also usually resistant to burning and easy to re-wire, or if you want to install additional wiring.One disadvantage is that the conduits need special tools if you want to cut it without damaging the wires.
Flexible conduits are therefore a safe, solid alternative to rigid protection for your wires and allow you the freedom to install them wherever you find convenient, whether indoors or outdoors.