Shop electric in surface mounted conduit

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  • Shop electric in surface mounted conduit

    I'm going to surface mount conduit and receptacle boxes from a subpanel to various locations in my shop. Do you have a preference for Schedule 40/80 or metal conduit? I used Schedule 40 (or 80) in my old shop and it was super easy, and it seems less expensive if you don't have a lot of bends.

  • #2
    Check with your local code office. A friend of mine in the DFW area wired up his shop with PVC only to have the inspector tell him he needed to have it in metal. Not a single clue if that was valid or why, but it was...
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    • #3
      Any reason to use PVC vrs EMT? EMT “use to be” much cheaper at the big box stores. Most fittings are screw in vrs glue together so they can be easily reused, it has any number of fittings and adapters. It’s as easy or IMPO much easier to install. With a cheap bender you can get quite creative and do a professional looking job. In my first shop I surfaced mounted 40 pvc and after a couple of years I had to go back and support it in the longer runs because it sagged. EMT isn’t prone to sag. There was a question about how many wires you could run in conduit because of heat dissipation but I don’t know if that is a factor in a home shop, and whether or not the do it yourself installed even bothers to adhere to the specs. If it is a problem I suppose the metal EMT would dissipate the heat quicker.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by dbhost View Post
        Check with your local code office. A friend of mine in the DFW area wired up his shop with PVC only to have the inspector tell him he needed to have it in metal. Not a single clue if that was valid or why, but it was...
        Oh, right, permit office...

        My county uses the 2017 NEC which does allow PVC--so does 2020 NEC. The NEC says Schedule 40 PVC conduit is permitted for exposed locations where not subject to physical damage. Schedule 80 PVC conduit is identified for use in areas subject to physical damage.

        My long term plan was to dismantle and take everything with me if we ever moved and I still planned to continue woodworking.
        Last edited by atgcpaul; 02-28-2022, 04:29 PM.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by capncarl View Post
          Any reason to use PVC vrs EMT? EMT “use to be” much cheaper at the big box stores.
          Looks like Sch 40 is quite a big cheaper than EMT depending on the size, but Sch 80 seems to be a lot more.


          Originally posted by capncarl View Post
          In my first shop I surfaced mounted 40 pvc and after a couple of years I had to go back and support it in the longer runs because it sagged. EMT isn’t prone to sag.
          That's a good point.


          Originally posted by capncarl View Post
          There was a question about how many wires you could run in conduit because of heat dissipation but I don’t know if that is a factor in a home shop, and whether or not the do it yourself installed even bothers to adhere to the specs. If it is a problem I suppose the metal EMT would dissipate the heat quicker.
          Box fill and conduit fill is not something I personally skirt around, but in the home shop, I don't think heat dissipation will matter too much. Looks like I can put 9 #12 THHN wires in one 1/2" EMT or 8 #12s in one 1/2" PVC. That seems like more than enough, but 3/4" seems to be the sweet spot with 16 #12s.

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