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Fiberglass vs GRC and PVC-Coated Elbows: A Comparative Electrical Conduit Analysis

By Oct 1, 2023
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The electrical conduit realm offers an array of metallic and nonmetallic materials. Today, fiberglass (RTRC) conduit emerges as a formidable contender with strength, better field handling and considerable cost-effectiveness.

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A glimpse into modern conduit choices

The electrical conduit realm offers an array of metallic and nonmetallic materials. GRC (galvanized rigid steel conduit), PVC-coated steel and fiberglass conduit are commonly used materials.

Historically, steel and PVC-coated steel have been admired for their strength in protecting cables and wires in industrial applications. Their heavier weight and cumbersome field handling were often overlooked due to the absence of alternative solutions. Fast forward to today, and fiberglass (RTRC) emerges as a formidable contender with strength, better field handling and considerable cost-effectiveness.

For projects demanding extensive quantities of conduit elbows, such as utilities and data centers, GRC had been the traditional choice. A recent comparison underscores that fiberglass offers a 61% savings on materials and installation with the bulk of the savings coming from installation. When compared to PVC-coated steel, that savings grows to 70%. Results calculated on the Champion Fiberglass elbow calculator are based on (20) 4-in. standard wall 36 radius Champion Duct® elbows versus similar GRC and PVC-coated steel elbows are detailed below. The comparison shows fiberglass conduit elbows coming in at $7,240 less than GRC elbows and $10,740 less than PVC-coated steel when considering both materials and installation costs.

 GRCPVC-Coated SteelFiberglass Conduit (RTRC)
Material cost each$305$456.04$135
Total material net$6100$9120.80$2700
Install hours (per NECA MLU)72 hours24 hours24 hours
Installation cost at $80/hour$5760$6240$1920
Total installed cost (materials + labor)$11,860$15360$4620

Source: Champion Fiberglass elbow calculator

Why Champion Fiberglass electrical conduit?

In addition to significant savings, Champion Fiberglass conduit elbows stand out due to their lightweight nature, which simplifies the installation process. They are UL-listed with a low coefficient of friction, so when transitioning from galvanized steel or PVC-coated steel, there’s no compromise on efficiency or durability.

For utilities projects, where miles-long cable runs are standard, Champion Fiberglass conduit elbows offer low coefficient of friction and no burn-through characteristics that inspire confidence among electrical contractors. Their strength ensures that unlike some materials including PVC, fiberglass conduit remains intact when pulling cable through, particularly crucial for large-scale projects with long pulls.

Also, fiberglass elbows are the only electrical conduit guaranteed not to melt or weld to the inside of the conduit, ensuring easy replacements and repairs as needed in the future. In the event of fault conditions, galvanized rigid steel could cause the wire inside the conduit to weld to the conduit itself, an issue engineers never need to worry about with RTRC fiberglass conduit.

Unlike GRC, fiberglass conduit is a superior insulator, keeping installers safe from unfortunate electrical injuries. Weighing the advantages of increased safety, coupled with reduced costs on multiple fronts, it’s evident why data centers are gravitating towards fiberglass RTRC over GRC and PVC-coated steel.

Xpress Elbows: Delivering speed and efficiency

In a crunch for time? Champion Fiberglass presents Xpress Elbows, ensuring shipment within 48 hours for urgent needs.

This program is available for orders of 100 pieces or fewer in sizes:

  • 12 radius 2” IPS x 90

  • 24 radius 4” IPS x 90

  • 36 radius 4/5/6” x 90

Options include plain-ended, PVC deep-socket coupling transitions, and both PVC male and female adapter type transitions.

To delve deeper into the multifaceted benefits and features of Champion Fiberglass’ no burn-through elbows, consider downloading the comprehensive No Burn-Through Elbow eGuide.

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