Comparing Fiberglass Conduit and PVC Conduit
Due to increasing raw materials costs, disruptions in the supply chain, and higher freight costs, the price of PVC has climbed steadily in the past year while the available supply has decreased. For some contractors this means that PVC electrical conduit is either no longer available, or not within their budget.
But since most projects can’t be delayed or stalled, many electrical contractors are turning fiberglass electrical conduit as a suitable alternative to PVC conduit. Fiberglass conduit is not only typically much lower priced than PVC conduit, but installation costs are also lower due to less labor needed to install fiberglass conduit.
In this article the electrical conduit experts at Team Electrical Supply in the Detroit, MI area compare and contrast PVC and fiberglass electrical conduit – and reveal some surprising advantages of choosing fiberglass for your electrical conduit needs.
Industries that can Use Fiberglass Conduit
If your industry doesn’t typically use Fiberglass Conduit, you may be wondering if it is a suitable alternative to PVC for your needs. Many people are actually surprised to learn that fiberglass conduit is often a stronger and more durable conduit than PVC. Fiberglass conduit is also more corrosion resistant to many chemicals.
As a result, many data centers bridges, tunnels, utilities, chemical plants, and wastewater treatment facilities choose fiberglass for their conduit needs.
PVC vs Fiberglass Conduit Installation
Fiberglass conduit installs in about one-third the time of PVC conduit. The NECA Manual Labor Rates reports that installing 100 foot of 6” diameter conduit takes 9 hours for fiberglass conduit, and 24 hours for PVC SCH 40 installation.
Obviously, this could result in dramatically reduced installation labor costs if fiberglass conduit is chosen over PVC.
PVC vs Fiberglass Conduit Weight
Fiberglass conduit also weighs significantly less than traditional SCH 40 PVC conduit.
This means that lighter-weight fiberglass conduit will not add much weight to supporting structures, compared to heavier PV Conduit systems. One hundred feet of 4” SW fiberglass conduit only weighs only 72 pounds – compared to 231 pounds for the same amount of SCH 40 PVC conduit.
Additionally, fiberglass conduit has a lower cable coefficient of friction (.38) compared to PVC (.90) – so fiberglass conduit can be pulled longer. So, fewer pull boxes are required for long runs using fiberglass conduit – providing even more savings on material.
Integrating Fiberglass Conduit
Fiberglass elbows are often provided with PVC couplings for use when transitioning to underground PVC conduits. While PVC or fiberglass male/female adapters can be used to transition from fiberglass to GRC and PVC-coated rigid steel conduit. For fiberglass-to-fiberglass connections, however, only fiberglass coupling is recommended.
PVC vs Fiberglass Conduit and Heat
Fiberglass conduit does not burn-through like PVC – meaning fewer conduit repairs.
And while PVC, steel, and aluminum conduit can be vulnerable to melting or welding the affected cables during fault conditions, fiberglass conduit does not have this problem. The natural heat and fire resistance properties of fiberglass mean that it will not melt or weld the affected cable to the inside of the conduit during fault conditions.
In high-heat situations, for example, PVC SCH 40 and 80 can only withstand temperatures of 40 degrees F to 150 degrees F. But Champion fiberglass conduit, for example, can withstand temperatures of minus-60 degrees F to +250 degrees F.
Fiberglass also does not get weak or brittle when exposed to freezing temperatures. In fact, fiberglass actually gets slightly stronger in cold temperatures – making it an excellent choice for outdoor conduit applications that will be exposed to cold Michigan winters.
PVC and Fiberglass Conduit Distributor | Detroit Area
In many ways, as demonstrated above, fiberglass conduit is a superior product to PVC conduit. Fiberglass is not only stronger and more durable but offers a greater range of temperature tolerance, is heat resistant, and offers increased longevity over PVC. Additionally, fiberglass weighs less, and its installation costs are significantly lower.
If you are interested in exploring fiberglass conduit for your next construction project, new build, or upgrade, the electrical product experts at Team Electrical Sales in the Detroit area are here to help!
At Team Electrical Sales we pride ourselves on representing the highest quality of electrical products and the best customer service in the industry. Call us today for all of your electrical conduit needs and we will help you find the products that are right for you at the best possible prices.