Conduit systems have many applications but are extremely common in telecommunications utilities and the power supply market. PVC-coated steel conduit is often used. However, an increasing number of businesses are realizing that fiberglass conduit systems offer more advantages than PVC. When compared side by side, fiberglass conduit is superior to PVC in many ways.
Fiberglass Conduit Takes Less Work to Install
PVC conduits have to be bent to the proper specifications with special installation tools. These tools are difficult to come by for the average field contractor. Fiberglass installation is done with a common PVC hot box that many field contractors already possess. PVC is also much heavier than fiberglass, resulting in a slower installation process that is less safe and costs more money. Because it is easier to install, fiberglass costs less in labor than PVC, too.
Fiberglass weighs far less than PVC, but the benefits it provides go beyond installation. It also means that less stress is put on supporting structures. Fiberglass systems are more efficient and flexible and cost less to maintain. The benefits of these qualities extend far beyond installation into the full life span of the project.
Better Coefficient of Friction
Cables often need to be pulled through conduits, resulting in burn-through. This is when friction from heating damages the structure of the conduit. While PVC can resist burn-through pretty well, fiberglass is even more resistant. That allows cables to be pulled through even faster. Fiberglass is also less likely to be damaged by common lubricants used to counter conduit burn-through.
Fiberglass resists corrosion in a wide variety of environmental conditions. It is more resistant to corrosion than PVC when exposed to extreme operating temperatures and chemicals. In some cases, PVC is more resistant to corrosion (such as in the presence of high amounts of ammonia), but this is not usually the case.
Resistant to Impact
Fiberglass conduit stands up to impacts better than PVC. It maintains its shape after impact since it is designed to be strong but flexible. These qualities help it hold up far better in tough environments like earthquake or flood-prone areas. PVC is far more susceptible to these environmental dangers.
Easy to Customize
Fiberglass conduit is made from epoxy resin reinforced by fibers that can be altered to improve certain qualities. For example, fiberglass can be made more resistant to corrosion or shielded against electromagnetic interference and radiofrequency.
No Dangerous Chemicals
In the event of an accident, fiberglass releases no halogens. This makes it far safer for people to be around. PVC can release chlorine, which can damage central nervous and respiratory systems, as well as bromine, a common pesticide. Containing no dangerous chemicals means less chance of liability should an accident occur.
Better Vibration Resistance
Large structures, like bridges, can experience continuous vibrations that shorten their life span. Fiberglass conduit is regularly used for such structures because of its high vibration resistance. This helps maintain the integrity of larger structures and extend the time needed between maintenance.