In the world of electrical engineering, there are two basic ways to get electrical wire and cable to span a great distance while carrying a current or a signal. There is the option of conduit on one end and cable trays on the other – disregarding open wiring.
But what are these, and what implications do the differences bear for electrical engineers?
What Are Cable Trays?
A cable tray is a unit or a series of joined units that provide rigid structural support for electrical cables and raceways, and to which cables can be securely fastened.
Cable trays are open, allowing easier access to the tray cable. Trays can have either a solid bottom, be ventilated, or have a ladder-like configuration to support the cables.
Advantages of Cable Trays
Cable trays are considered to have numerous advantages over conduits. These include:
● Cost savings. Cable trays are usually cheaper to construct and assemble than conduit.
● Wires can more easily laid on cable tray than drawn through conduit.
● The partially-open nature of cable tray makes maintenance, repair and replacement less time, resource, and cost-consuming.
● Cable trays are easier to inspect.
● Cable trays are flexible and expandable, and it is easy to build on the existing configuration.
● There are multiple materials configurations available and cable trays can exhibit very high strength.
● Cable trays allow better heat dissipation than conduit.
Disadvantages of Cable Trays
Now for the disadvantages of cable trays, which are:
● Cable trays do not provide the same level of protection as conduit. Conduit physically shields cable from sunlight, water, ice, snow, falling debris, and much more.
● Cable trays provide little to no protection against electromagnetic interference.
● The relative lack of protection means that trays must be used with tray cable that is appropriate for the setting; in some situations, this means cable rated for industrial applications or for use in hazardous locations, or with insulation and jacketing that can be installed in free air and which is cold, impact, and sunlight resistant.
What Are Conduits?
A cable conduit is a rigid tube, typically made of a plastic polymer or metal alloy, that conveys, routes, and protects enclosed cables. Basically, it is a pipe through which wires are drawn.
Advantages of Conduit
Despite the fact that conduits are an older system, they still offer numerous advantages over cable trays, including:
● Conduit provides superior mechanical shielding to the electrical wire and cable contained within. It protects cables against light, water, dust, and much more.
● Conduit can provide a certain degree of shielding against electromagnetic interference.
● There are corrosion-resistant, lightweight conduit materials available.
● Conduit can be made fully waterproof, even submersible.
● Sealed conduit can protect electrical wires from heat, flames, and toxic gases, mitigating the risk of fire and explosions.
● Conduit can provide for grounding and bonding.
● Conduit can be buried.
Disadvantages of Conduit
The above noted configurations that use electrical conduit are not without their drawbacks:
● Conduit can trap heat, which can affect the current or signal-carrying capacity of the cables contained within.
● Conduit is typically more expensive to install. It is also cost-prohibitive and time-consuming to draw wires through conduit.
● Conduit does not allow for easy inspection of, or access to, the wires it contains.
● Maintenance can be costly when working with conduit.
Where Can You Get High-Quality Tray Cable Online?
As you can see, the case of conduit vs. cable trays does not lend a clear winner. It is not a case of one being superior to the other, but a case of relative advantages. Cable trays and tray cable are better in some applications, and conduit in others.
If you’re looking for high-quality cable – including tray cables that can be used with cable trays and raceways, visit EWCS Wire online at EWCSWire.com.
They carry a wide range of electrical wire and cable, including but not limited to marine battery wire, flexible welding cable, aluminum wire and cable, instrumentation and fire alarm cable, armored cable, solar PV wire, and of course, tray cable.
For more information visit their website or contact them directly at Sales@EWCSWire.com or at 1-800-262-1598.