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The Difference Between Plumbing PVC and Electrical Conduit PVC
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a combination of plastic and vinyl that is used to make PVC pipes. These popular types of pipes are commonly used in plumbing as an alternative to more expensive copper piping. PVC is also used to produce electrical conduit. While regular PVC and electrical conduit PVC are both made from the same type of plastic, they are not the same thing, nor should they be used for the same applications. Each should only be used as it is intended and not interchangeably.
Let’s take a look at few differences between plumbing PVC and electrical conduit PVC.
How PVC Pipe and PVC Conduit Differ
Tested for Pressure
One of the biggest differences between plumbing PVC pipe and PVC electrical conduit is that PVC pipes are pressure tested and PVC conduit isn’t. This means that PVC pipe and PVC conduit cannot be used interchangeably. Because plumbing piping systems must be able to withstand water pressure to be effective and work properly, pipes that are tested and rated for pressure must be used. The pressure rating is printed on plumbing PVC pipe. PVC conduit isn’t approved to use in plumbing applications because it isn’t pressure tested, making the chances of leaking higher.
Another difference that you’ll find between PVC pipe and PVC conduit, is in the thickness of the wall of the pipe. The wall of plumbing PVC pipe is typically thicker than the wall of PVC conduit. Because plumbing PVC is used in applications that have pressure to consider, the added thickness ensures that the pipe is strong enough to resist bending and that it will remain undamaged and intact. Conduit PVC isn’t required to withstand as much pressure, so it isn’t made with walls that are thick – that simply wouldn’t be a cost-effective design for manufacturers.
The most noticeable difference between regular PVC and electrical PVC is the color of the pipes. PVC pipe that is used for plumbing is usually white while electrical conduit PVC is usually gray. These are the standard colors, but you can find PVC that has had chemical additives added during the manufacturing process to create different colored pipes. Be aware that Schedule 80 PVC piping is also gray in color like PVC conduit piping, but Schedule 80 is a plumbing pipe, similar to the white Schedule 40 PVC piping. Therefore, Schedule 80 pipes should not be used as an electrical conduit.
If you’re curious to learn more about the differences between Schedule 40 and Schedule 80 plumbing PVC pipes.
Plumbing PVC is most often situated indoors or underground, therefore it isn’t rated for ultraviolet light exposure. In fact, ultraviolet rays are harmful to this type of PVC, making it unsuitable for use in rooftop applications or areas where it may be exposed to the weather. It can become brittle and cracked when exposed. On the other hand, electrical conduit PVC is tested and rated for UV exposure, which means that it is suitable for outdoor waterproofing applications in which electrical cables need to be run across rooftops or up the sides of buildings.
PVC pipe’s main purpose is for use in plumbing situations, which is why it is pressure tested. It’s suited for use in drain, water, and ventilation systems. You are also likely to find PVC pipe used in sewage systems. It shouldn’t be used in places where it will be exposed to the elements, as it isn’t UV rated and will become damaged.
Electrical conduit PVC’s main purpose is for use in electrical systems as a housing for electrical wires or cables. PVC conduit is often used in underground and wet location applications where electrical cables need to be protected. Because it’s UV tested and rated, it can be used in locations where it will be exposed to UV rays.
Plumbing and Electrical Conduit PVC Piping: Strong, Reliable Products
Both plumbing PVC and conduit PVC are great options for use in the home or commercially. They are durable, versatile, and cost-effective to use. However, it’s essential to use them each in the manner they were designed for. Regular PVC pipe shouldn’t be used in electrical applications, and PVC conduit won’t work well in plumbing situations. But when you use them correctly, they are both effective and reliable.