I am setting up a workshop in the unfinished area of my basement. I need to run a couple of electrical outlets and would like to run them along the block walls through grey PVC. Will this be a problem or should I use metal conduit instead? There's one circuit already installed by a previous owner, but I'll be removing it. He has 12/2 romex draped from the bottom of the joists running into metal conduit (one per outlet) which ends about 18" below the joists. Not only does it look bad, the romex drapes from counduit to conduit, entering each conduit with no protection from the sharp edge of the pipe. The electric panel is in the same area as the workshop.

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    It strikes me funny that so much emphasis is put on protecting the cable when in reality, plugging my table saw into an outlet causes the power cord to become an extension of the circuit and it has NO protection beyond the jacket it comes in. And how many people run their extension cords through conduit before using them just in case they drop a chisel on it? I'm all for doing things safely and minimizing risk, and for that reason I chose metal conduit over plastic. Thanks to all that posted.
    – bkcarroll
    Jun 22, 2011 at 12:50

3 Answers 3


You should have no problem using Schedule 80 PVC conduit. It's easy to work with, and you can get pre-formed 90's for any corners (so you won't need a pipe bender).

You might be able to get away with Schedule 40, but since it will be exposed (and in a work area where it could get smashed with a wayward piece of lumber) I would go with Schedule 80.

Just make sure you do a better job than the previous "electrician", and use proper PVC conduit straps to attach the conduit to the wall / ceiling.

KeithS brings up a fair point. Make sure the first receptacle on the line is a GFCI receptacle, then feed the rest of the receptacles from the load side of the GFCI.

  • One suggestion, since this is a basement; wire everything in this area on GFCI-protected circuits. Otherwise you could come down after a torrential rain to a flooded basement, with an unseen and very lethal shock danger from the underwater mains plugs.
    – KeithS
    Jun 20, 2011 at 22:34
  • Thanks @KeithS, you are correct it is probably a good idea to have a GFCI in any location that could be wet/damp.
    – Tester101
    Jun 21, 2011 at 2:05
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    If the plug is underwater, will it not trip the breaker?
    – bkcarroll
    Jun 22, 2011 at 12:51
  • @bkcarroll: true enough in a properly function system the breaker should trip if the receptacle is underwater, but a GFCI is still a good choice in areas where water or dampness can be encountered.
    – Tester101
    Jun 22, 2011 at 13:36
  • If this is for a basement shop, I personally wouldn't use GFCI to avoid nuisance tripping.
    – billoreid
    Jun 25, 2011 at 2:14

PVC trunking should be OK as long as you earth the cabling at each socket.

Fix the trunking first then run the cables through it - you don't want to nick the cable.


Check your local building codes. If code requires metal conduit, then you need to use metal conduit. If code allows plastic conduit, then you can use plastic conduit.

On metal vs plastic: What happens if you drop a hammer on it while you are working? I would err on the side of better crush resistance.

  • Well, I would guess that a dropped hammer would not cause damage to PVC or metal conduit, but I understand what you are getting at. Thanks.
    – bkcarroll
    Jun 22, 2011 at 12:44

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