Many companies and neighborhoods prefer to use an above ground conduit system for their electrical and telecommunication cables rather than use a below ground system.
Often it’s all about how installing the system above ground is simply much more convenient and easy. This option doesn’t take as much time and effort, so the savings regarding time and manpower can translate to lower expenditures. There’s no need to dig up streets to put in the conduits below the ground, and so there’s no resulting traffic snarls while the installation is going on. Afterwards, access to the conduit is much easier, and there’s no need to put in manholes as well.
But then these systems are exposed, and so the materials used for the conduits must be able to meet the following requirements:
It Should Be Resistant to UV Rays
These conduits are exposed to sunlight every day, and in the summer that can result in extreme UV exposure. Not every material can withstand that kind of exposure, especially plastics.
However, other materials can be formulated so that they’re resistant to UV rays. A fiberglass conduit can be made by blending a special UV inhibitor into the epoxy resin before it is actually manufactured. This will function as a UV screen, and also give a nice black color to the conduit.
It Should Have a Low Rate of Thermal Expansion
As the weather cools down or warms up, various exposed materials can contract and expand depending on the temperature. That’s a special problem for conduit systems installed above the ground, as they’re basically exposed. A high rate of expansion can be disastrous for a conduit system that’s installed above the ground.
It’s for this reason that quite a few telecommunications and utility companies are opting for high-quality fiberglass conduits rather than going with PVC conduits. In some cases, the fiberglass conduit rate of expansion is only 40% of the PVC thermal expansion. The fiberglass expansion joints can even tolerate a change of 130 degrees F without expanding too much. This helps make sure that these expansion joints remain watertight.
It Should Be Resistant to Corrosive Chemical Agents
When you have conduits above the ground, they’re exposed to a wide range of chemical agents that can result in damage if the wrong conduit material is used. The problems can be brought on by rain and snow, along with road salts, high concentrations of acids, and airborne pollutants. Hydrocarbon fuels may also seep and spill. All these environmental factors can result in damaged conduits.
However, some fiberglass materials can contain thermosetting resins, which can then make the resulting fiberglass extremely resistant to the degradation brought on by various chemical agents.
What this means in practical terms is that such a conduit system needs very little maintenance, which cuts down on expenses. Also, the corrosion-resistance of the conduit can be a major factor in its durability. The longer such a conduit system lasts, the more cost-effective it really is.
It Should Be Lightweight
Having conduits that can be both adequately strong and yet extremely lightweight can be truly advantageous for above ground conduit systems. It’s not just because a single worker can carry conduit pieces from one spot to another, which saves a lot of time and necessary manpower. It’s also because you can save on conduit supports and hangers, since the weight they’re supporting isn’t as heavy.
It Should Look Good
Just because the conduit system is above ground doesn’t mean it has to make the whole area visually unappealing. Some conduits can look great, and in some cases you can even choose the color.