Best type of conduit for basement electrical

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Old 09-30-16, 12:20 PM
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Best type of conduit for basement electrical

Hey DIY members,

Sort of a newb question but this is my first DIY home project and I want to get it right the first time around.

The electrical in my unfinished basement is basically exposed conduit mounted to the cinder blocks of the wall. I'm going to build myself a little gym setup downstairs, so I want to add some new lighting and clean the place up without actually having to finish the basement.

I figured I could add a manly, industrial feel by simply cleaning up the conduit (pull out the old and replace with new) and hang some Edison lights. See image below:

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My question probably has a pretty simple answer, but is there a huge difference between conduit metals; i.e. stainless steel conduit versus copper conduit versus other metals.

Do different metals offer different benefits, or is it all a matter of cost versus aesthetics? Are there any state/ township regulations or standards for electrical conduit to consider?

Copper would obviously look really fresh and warm, but stainless steel would offer a bright finish as well, but at a lesser cost, right?

Any insight you could offer would be much appreciated! It's a simple project but I don't want to make any silly mistakes (especially since basements can be quite moist/ humid and I don't want to spend money on "pretty conduit" just for it to end up corroded or tarnished).

Thank you!

PS: Sorry for the big space underneath the image. I'm not sure why that happened!
 
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Old 09-30-16, 12:33 PM
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Are you asking about replicating that light fixture or installing circuits in conduit?

That light fixture is made with threaded plumbing pipe, not conduit. It is either black steel or galvanized painted black. In general the problem with using plumbing pipe and fittings in place of electrical conduits is that plumbing fittings are not finished smooth on the inside and often have sharp burrs or welds which could cut wiring run through them. The elbows are too tight to pull wires without damaging them.

Indoor conduit for installing circuits is almost universally EMT which is thinwall galvanized steel tubing. It can be left unfinished or painted. There is also a thick wall threaded steel electrical conduit, however the expense is not usually warranted except in severe heavy duty situations. Same deal for specialty conduits like copper, aluminum and stainless -- very expensive, special order, and only used in very specific applications like corrosive vapors from industrial chemicals or pool chlorine.

There are many codes involved with installing conduit -- do you have specific questions?
 
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Old 09-30-16, 01:00 PM
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Sorry if the question was unclear. I was just showing an example of the Edison bulbs. The question was in regards to replacing the exposed conduit mounted to the cinder block walls, and if I could use stainless steel or copper to create a new look in the basement without disobeying any rules, standards, or regulations.

Bonus would be if someone could tell me the best performing metal for a basement environment.
 
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Old 09-30-16, 01:05 PM
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Any type of metal would be OK as long as you use listed electrical conduits, fittings and boxes. Standard EMT is a $1.50 per length and will remain shiny for a long time. You could also paint it with silver or copper simulated spray paints No matter the material, the conduit needs to be installed with proper bending radius, fastening intervals, fittings and fasteners. BTW, I don't think copper conduit exists, but red brass conduit does.
 
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Old 10-03-16, 06:11 PM
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My question probably has a pretty simple answer, but is there a huge difference between conduit metals; i.e. stainless steel conduit versus copper conduit versus other metals.
What you and Home Depot are calling copper conduit is actually copper pipe which cannot be bent. Stainless steel conduit is special order and very expensive and requires special tools/dies for cutting and threading. I would also use EMT conduit, but without quite a bit of practice at bending and installation you won't be happy with the final appearance. Good luck!
 
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Old 10-03-16, 06:42 PM
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While they do manufacture colored EMT conduit: Color Checkā„¢ Color-Coded EMT Steel Conduit - Wheatland Tube the fittings will still be steel or zinc colored. I would also recommend using EMT for price, looks, and ease of bending. Watch a few youtube videos and practice on a few sticks and you will get the hang of it.
 
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Old 10-03-16, 08:14 PM
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Just to add they do have fittings that can be used instead of bending. Maybe most critical (IMHO ) offset connectors so you can lay the conduit flat.

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Old 10-04-16, 04:03 PM
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Is the existing conduit rusty? I, too, like the look of conduit, and you might consider a wipe-on ebony stain with a coarse sponge. I priced out the stainless EMT once, and I THINK it was not polished, so not really intended to be decorative.
 
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Old 10-10-16, 10:04 AM
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Thanks for all the informative responses. Maybe it is red brass conduit I've been seeing in images. This is similar to the look I wanted to achieve. Do you think this is copper piping or red brass conduit?

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If it is red brass conduit, is that something that would have to be polished in order to stay shiny? When I worked at bar when I was younger, we'd have to shine the brass counter top supports with Bar Keeper's Friend every Sunday to keep it from looking gross.
 
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Old 10-10-16, 10:14 AM
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I think that is just a finish applied to a base metal.
 
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Old 10-10-16, 11:07 AM
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In that picture.... it is copper tubing and copper plumbing fittings. Is it to code....NO.

There is a lot of rule bending used when designing lighting fixtures. Many custom designers, artisans and builders pay no attention to the code and build as they see fit. The biggest problem here is that without a UL certification if there is a fire caused by that fixture there could be insurance repercussions and denial of coverage.
 
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Old 10-10-16, 03:24 PM
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Light fixture manufacturers do not follow the NEC except for sections that pertain to luminaires. (410, 402) The only real thing they need to do is to pass a listing agency like UL.

Installers in the field need to follow the entire code. Those lights in the picture would not pass inspection if they were field installed. Remember, just because you saw it on the internet (or TV) does not make it OK.
 
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