You may have heard of cable trays and the “tray cable” that is intended for use with them. Traditionally, the preferred method of laying cables over a long distance was through a conduit. A conduit, which is a solid sheath or pipe that encloses a series of cables, has a number of advantages to laying cables over long distances, such as the following:
● Conduit provides superior protection for cables against EMI. As the distance over which the cables are laid increases, the risk of being adversely affected by EMI increases; conduit can help to shield this out.
● Conduit provides the best protection possible against sunlight, moisture, abrasion, and other damaging factors. This is a big benefit if the cables would otherwise be installed in free air settings and lacked sunlight resistance or flame retardance.
● Conduit is highly durable and has a long lifespan. When properly installed, it will protect the cables for many years.
● It lessens the risk of electric shock.
● Among many other potential advantages, largely associated with protecting the cables themselves or humans in close proximity to them.
Unfortunately, it’s not all good news with conduit. Working with conduits and the cables they contain has some of the following drawbacks:
● Conduit is labor-intensive and expensive to install. It’s also difficult to draw cables through conduit.
● Once the cables are drawn, it’s difficult to access the cables for maintenance, repair, or replacement.
● It’s difficult to manage or add new connections in the future to conduit and cables that have already been laid and drawn.
● If steel conduit is used, it is very heavy and may be difficult to transport or install.
An alternative to laying conduits is to use cable trays and tray cable. Instead of drawing long lengths of cable through correspondingly long, ungainly stretches of conduit, tray cable is much simple and more straightforward. With trays, cables are simply laid along them; they are not entirely enclosed as they would be with conduit.
Because of this, using trays and tray cable has a number of advantages over conduit.
● Better heat dissipation: Because conduit encloses the cable, it makes it difficult to allow heat to escape. Trays are open, allowing heat to escape readily, diminishing overheating as well as the risk of fire.
● More cost-effective to lay (and less labor-intensive): It’s much less involved to lay cable trays along a tray than it is to draw cables through a conduit.
● Accessing the cables is easier (as is providing maintenance): If it is determined that there is an issue with a cable or a connection, both identifying the issue at the source and accessing it are easier with an electrical configuration that uses trays instead of conduit.
● Cable trays offer highly flexible configurations: Because cable trays are open and easily accessible, they are highly flexible and can adapt to highly complex electrical configurations fairly easily. It is also possible to install or remove cables as necessary, with less labor and in a more timely fashion.
With that said, tray cable offers little to no protection against EMI and much less protection against the risk of shock. It also offers effectively no protection against environmental hazards like moisture, ultraviolet light, and chemicals.
Whether or not tray cable will be suitable for your location depends on a case-by-case assessment. If, however, you determine that tray cable is a suitable selection for your environment, get in touch with the Electrical Wire and Cable Specialists at EWCS Wire at EWCSWire.com.
Their online collection contains plenty of high-quality electrical wire and cable including cables that are suitable for use in trays. Check out their collection online and if you have any questions, contact their customer service team at 800-262-1598.