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Shawns4 08-21-2008 03:38 PM

Cost Difference Between Conduit & Romex

I am having a new custom house built and the contractor currently budgeted in conduit throughout. But he said most of his homes, including his own, he uses Romex. He said if we chose to go with Romex it would save $1,600.00. Our house is about 4,000 sq ft. I read up on Romex online and it seems it is used quite a bit in residential, but that conduit is generally preferred by most. My question is, after reading up on how much is involved with conduit vs how little is involved with Romex, why would the savings be only $1600. Is that a typical price difference between the two?


jogr 08-21-2008 03:44 PM

Good conduit guys get really fast, the wire is a little cheaper and the wire pulls through the conduit quickly.

Around here everything residential is romex. Some other areas require conduit. If conduit is not required I think you'll find Romex turns on the lights just as well as conduit.

Termite 08-21-2008 03:45 PM

There's really no major advantage to conduit over type NM romex, in my opinion. I certainly wouldn't install concealed wiring in conduit unless local codes (such as Chicago) forced me to. My suggestion is to save yourself $1600 and go with type NM.

bob22 08-21-2008 04:23 PM

WHile you're in the planning stage, you might ask them to install some conduit for future wire pulls from wherever your panel is to attic or other spots. Always a pain to run a line or two when the walls are covered.
Same for CAT5 or other computer/communication lines.

Speedy Petey 08-21-2008 05:10 PM


Originally Posted by Shawns4 (Post 150648)
I read up on Romex online and it seems it is used quite a bit in residential, but that conduit is generally preferred by most.

Absolutely not.

In a residential setting, conduit is preferred by the folks who are forced to use it. By this is mean the tightly controlled work force of the Chicago and surrounding areas (as far as I have seen).

NO BODY else uses conduit for the internal branch circuit wiring for home wiring.
NYC used to have a "no NM cable" rule, but even this was relaxed in recent years. Even before that they were at least allowed to use flexible metallic cable.

WHY would he even budget it in in the first place??????

Where are you located?

petey_c 08-22-2008 07:37 AM

Speedy, Good question. Maybe his NM price is high and he added the conduit price for comparison. "Look, you can save $1,600.00 by using NM instead of conduit!"
bob22 Here, any penetrations between floors have to be filled with fireproof caulk. If you can do it also ask them to leave "drag lines" (string run between floors, tied off at both ends so it doesn't pull into the walls). When you do have a future run, tie the NM to it and pull...
Shawns4 I've never priced a residential job in pipe. It's always been romex. I would like to see it done though. Come to think of it, when I was a helper way back when, we did a job for a guy who was an engineer (not train) for the NYC Transit Authority. His house was done in pipe. He might have had a couple of guys from work do it for him. That probably lowered the materials cost a little.....:wink:

J. V. 08-22-2008 11:23 AM

I really see no reason not to use conduit if you have the money and do not care about the extra cost. Personally if I were to build my own home it would be in EMT.
When I was younger and in South Florida (1980's) conduit was required for residential. It was several years later that the NM was allowed, only residential.
Note: Lots off money was saved by installing the conduit in the concrete slab. Most every home in SF. is on a slab.

When I had an addition put on my house I did it in NM. But if I were to build for myself it would be in EMT conduit. This house is already roped in NM.
With conduit you will almost never have to worry about ripping out sheet rock or ceilings for added capability. You also never have to worry about cable failure. With EMT you just pull out the old and pull in the new. So much more user friendly.
I bet you all of our pros on this site would rather troubleshoot a house with conduit installed than they would with NM.

The key to making conduit your best ally is planning. Make sure you have receptacles or switches everywhere they are needed. Even try to imagine what you might do in the future. You can install the conduit for future upgrades and leave them empty. You must make note of all unused conduit installed and exactly where they are. Then you can do just about anything you want.

NM cables must be stapled. That makes removal, inspection and repair impossible after construction.

Keep in mind this a strictly a personal opinion and if it were MY house, not yours.

BigJimmy 08-22-2008 12:07 PM

Conduit boy here. I have to side with JV on this one. I am forced to use EMT in my jurisdiction but I have really developed a true love for it. In my case, when I started re-wiring my ancient home, I ran a 2x3/4" conduit "back bone" from rear to front of the house in the basement. My initial focus was getting all of the old crap abated and bringing the existing devices/circuits up to code knowing that things would change. As I've been remodeling, the raceway system has provided a means for removing some circuits that are no longer needed and adding new ones as rooms are reconfigured. Keep in mind though, this was all planned upfront so I knew that I wouldn't violate conduit/box fills, etc.

I've always liked the flexibility that a raceway system provides, esp. for future changes.


Super33 08-22-2008 05:32 PM

I'm a conduit guy too. I would choose conduit over romex in a house 100% of the time. Sure it costs a bit more but it allows much easier work for you in the future when you decide to make changes whether big or small. There is one problem in your situation I can see though, if you live in a land of romex and you hire guys to pipe your house they're probably not very experienced in laying out a house and piping and pulling it in EMT. Hopefully they are and they can do a quality job but if they aren't then it might not be worth while and you might be better off letting them do what they know best.

Speedy Petey 08-22-2008 08:11 PM

Like I said, most folks who like conduit better are the ones who are forced to use it. Perfect example above.

If conduit in a stick build home is SO much better, then why has the rest of the country not followed suit over the last 30-40 years???????

Also, please don't try and sell the old "You don't have to rip out walls to add on or upgrade" dramatics. The majority of the country's homes have attics, basements and crawl spaces.
I RARELY have to do ANY damage to run wires in an existing home.
Besides, how often do you have to "upgrade" or re-wire existing boxes? Almost never in my experience. Most everything we do is adding wiring and devices. Even if you do have to "re-wire" a complete house, there is usually very little existing. The majority of the work is new wiring locations.

If you have a home in Chicago with a first floor and finished second floor, and you need to add some recessed lights in the first floor ceiling, you are going to notch and run cable just like the rest of us. Having everything existing in EMT is NO help in this case, nor many other cases either.

wire_twister 08-22-2008 08:24 PM

Agree with Speedy 100% Nothing wrong with romex when done properly. The same rules about planning ahead apply. You dont have to worry about conduit fill but box fill can come into play real quick.

Super33 08-22-2008 08:56 PM


Originally Posted by Speedy Petey (Post 150949)
Like I said, most folks who like conduit better are the ones who are forced to use it. Perfect example above.

I've also romexed houses. And I would still rather pipe a house. Unfortunately most folks who romex houses are never "forced" to use conduit in one so they never get to see the difference. This is a large reason why they would rather not pipe a house. They each have their advantages and disadvantages of course. And because people do get set in their ways romex areas are not likely to change any time soon, and neither is Chicago:whistling2: (hopefully).

Speedy Petey 08-22-2008 09:01 PM


Originally Posted by Super33 (Post 150960)
And because people do get set in their ways romex areas are not likely to change any time soon,

There's also the little tidbit of bidding a job in conduit against everyone else who is bidding NM. :whistling2:

Super33 08-22-2008 09:06 PM

I guess that boils down to the preference of the homeowner. I guess all I'm trying to say is IMO:

EMT :yes:
NM :no:

micromind 08-22-2008 10:11 PM

When I built my house 12 years ago, I went 1/2 and 1/2.

The panel is in the wall between the house and garage, so I ran a 3/4 EMT along one outside wall to the far end. Another was ran along the other outside wall. Recpt.'s, switches, etc. were included in these runs. Anything that left the outside walls I ran in NM.

I also ran a 3/4 EMT to the dryer recpt., then NM to other stuff. Another 3/4 EMT goes to the kitchen area.

The garage/shop is all EMT, except I used PVC under the slab with rigid stub-ups.

I ran 3/4 EMT to a recpt. and light in the crawlspace under the house as well as the attic.

The service is 120/208 3 phase, so using EMT cut back on the number of neutrals. Plus, being in the comm'l/industrial end of the trade for many years, I had plenty of EMT and metal boxes around.

Even if I would have had to buy everything, I likely would have done it the same way. Especially the homeruns to the laundry and kitchen.

One thing you need to be careful of when running pipe is de-rating of conductors if there's a bunch of them in the pipe. This is one instance where a 3 phase system has a big advantage.


P.S. I have a 18X18X6 can near the panel for data/comm. I ran 3/4 EMT to each of 4 TV/computer/etc. stations, as well as the crawlspace and attic. I stubbed one through the roof for a satellite dish, and a couple outside under the footing.

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