By Bogdan Diaconescu, Product Manager
ABB Installation Products Division
What is a condulet?
In the world of electrical raceways, condulets, a specialized conduit body with a removable cover, play a critical role. When the electrical wiring has to reach from Point A to Point B, it sometimes has to travel relatively long distances through rigid metal conduit systems designed to protect and guide along the way. Based on distance and lay out of the raceway, there is often a need for 90 ° bends, or for wire splices, taps or mounting outlets. This is where condulets play an important role.
The most basic application for condulets is to connect various straight conduit sections of the electrical raceway. Typically, the layout of a raceway is complex. Whereas, conduits are straight 10 ft length of metal tubing with both ends threaded. In order for the raceway to be able to change direction, condulets are used to connect two sections of conduit. When wire is pulled through the installed raceways, it seems impossible to attempt to pull large wire bundles over long sections of raceway. But, by installing condulets intermittently along the length of raceway, electricians can gain easy access points to pull the wiring through effectively and efficiently. After installation, if there is a need to inspect the integrity of the wires or for regular maintenance, being able to open the system to gain easy access to the wiring is a critical, invaluable feature in any electrical raceway. The condulet provides that indispensable accessibility.
Types of Materials for Various Applications
There are as many different types of condulets available on the market as there are conduit bodies. The location and application dictate the body’s features and materials. Conduit bodies for ordinary locations and conduit outlet boxes used for hazardous locations have different features and characteristics. There are a variety of manufacturing materials which offer unique advantages in various demanding applications and environments. There are options to fit every need, including galvanized steel, sand or die cast aluminum, stainless steel Type 304 and Type 316 and PVC coated galvanized steel. The conduit material selected will drive the condulet material selection as well.
Typically, the environment to which the raceway is exposed will dictate the choice of material. For less demanding applications, generally, galvanized steel or aluminum offer great benefits at a reasonable cost. In other cases, where the applications are far more demanding, mostly from a corrosive standpoint, galvanized steel or aluminum would not provide the optimum life and protection against serious damage or risk to the safety and integrity of the overall system. For corrosive environments, stainless steel or PVC-coated galvanized steel options are better suited and offer a longer installation life span. Not surprisingly, they come at a premium price due to the added cost of superior materials and more expensive manufacturing processes. Engineers and specifiers must always conduct a critical cost vs. benefit analysis in specifying products for projects. That analysis must always have safety at the forefront of these considerations.
Styles of Condulets
Material and size are not the only choices that have to be made when selecting the right type of condulet. Condulet bodies come in multiple styles: LB, LL, LR, C, X, T, TB which provide different options for accessing the wiring or re-directing the lay out of the raceway. Some manufacturers even offer novel styles such as the “universal elbow,” or LU style, which combines the attributes of other styles (LL, LR, LB and C) in one single SKU which provide the opportunity to create considerable savings of cost, time and stocking.
Still another differentiator among various condulet types refers to their “form.” The most common condulet types in the market are: Form 35, Form 7, Form 8 and Form 9. Each has their specific dimensions, sizes, wire capacity and covers. For instance, the main difference between Form 7, Form 8 or Form 9 types is the way the cover is attached to the conduit body. While a Form 7 cover attaches with clips, a Form 8 or Form 9 has the cover screws drilled straight into the conduit body. User preference may be based on whether clips can be more easily removed if rust has set in vs. the view that the screw-in attachment of Form 8s and Form 9s is more durable. The choice comes down to the application and the specifications set for a certain project.
Examples of Condulets
Bottom line, the world of condulets is full of choices and options. They play a significant role in the functionality and complexity of an electrical raceway system. Every project presents the options of material, size, type and manufacturer and it is the job of every electrical distributor and contractor to choose the best fit from the available options.
For more information on condulet conduit bodies and, in general Rigid Fittings, please check the following links: