Knowing the Different Conduit Types

Any device or electronic appliance you have ever used is connected in pretty much the same way. At the heart of it is an electrical conduit that keeps everything powered and connected so you can keep your life as convenient as possible.

Did you know that there are different conduit types that are used in different situations and settings? When you go to use your favorite devices, take a minute to think about how they are all powered and properly managed.

What is an Electrical Conduit?

Before we start to learn about the different types of electrical conduits, a good place to start is by knowing the different conduit types you’ll run into. A conduit is a pathway or channel that can be used for different purposes but in this sense, we’re talking about electrical conduits.

These are the pathways that carry electrical currents from one point to the next. They also protect the wiring within, ensuring that everything from electricity to data can be transmitted safely, consistently, and effectively.

Intermediate Metal Conduit (IMC)

The first kind of electrical conduit we’ll cover is called intermediate metal conduit or IMC. There’s another version called RMC (see below) that is very rigid. This is a lighter, thinner version of RMC that isn’t quite as thick.

The cool thing about IMC is that it is super versatile and can be used in just about any setting that RMC can be used in. Most electricians want to go with IMC because it’s a lot lighter, making it way easier to manage than the alternative.

Since it is so sturdy, lightweight, and flexible, IMC is okay to use for both indoor and outdoor purposes. Though it isn’t quite as heavy-duty as RMC, it will hold up in most applications without suffering major damage.

Rigid Metal Conduit (RMC)

For applications that require a conduit that’s a lot more heavy-duty, rigid metal conduit is the way to go. That’s because it uses galvanized steel, which can hold up against just about anything that you can throw at it.

This kind of conduit is primarily used outdoors because of its sturdy build. With better protection than the other metal conduits out there, it can hold up against physical damage like no other. It also provides structural support for cables, boxes, and electrical equipment.

You would find RMC most commonly in outdoor installations because of the rigidity and sturdiness that it offers. The fastening style is threaded, and you will find that the most common sizes range between ½” and 2.5”.

Electrical Metallic Tubing (EMT)

Metallic tubing is kind of a catch-all term that is used to describe metal conduit even though that’s not technically accurate. This is a rigid type of metal conduit that you will typically see made of galvanized steel and even aluminum.

EMT is a bit thinner, making it easier to kink and bend. Make sure that you have a conduit bender that can bend it without kinking or cutting just enough for what you need. Sizes are a bit more limited, and you would typically want this for residential applications.

Flexible Metal Conduit (FMC)

The flexible metal conduit has been around for more than a century. Made of aluminum or steel, you can recognize these by the spiral look and flexibility of the tube. If you need to work in tight spaces, this is the conduit to choose.

Even better, FMC comes in a much broader range than the aforementioned conduit types. You can find FMC up to 4” but you would want to primarily use this kind of conduit for indoor applications.