What is a wire trough?

A trough allows electricians to trace cables through the installation.

A gutter is a device designed to route, protect, and organize cables or wires in home, office, or industrial environments. Wire gutters can be strips of plastic molded in box section one inch or more (about 5 cm) square to large concrete trenches several feet (approximately 0.6 m) wide and deep. Also known as cable racks, cable trays or trunks, these systems are available in a wide variety of designs and materials. Wire troughs can follow open design patterns or have integrated covers that attach to the trough to keep cables or wires out of sight and protected. Most wire trough designs are available in various lengths as modular systems that can be cut on site and include a wide range of accessories.

A quick peek behind a typical home computer desk or entertainment center often reveals a pretty scary tangle of printer cables, speaker wires, and power cords. This spaghetti-like pasta is not only an eyesore, it also poses various security risks and can negatively affect system performance. In addition to the obvious dropping of monitors, keyboards and printers if someone trips headfirst into the wiring, there is also the potential risk of electrical shock and fire associated with open wiring. The often shocking gastronomic delights that open wiring poses to rodents is another problem. Bundled data and power cables can also have a serious negative effect on the performance of some equipment.

A wire trough can solve all these problems by providing a clean and generally closed path for cables. These trough systems usually consist of pieces of plastic, steel, or aluminum in a box or tray shape, designed to keep wiring and cables out of sight in an orderly and secure manner. Gutters for commercial or home use are usually equipped with snap-on covers that keep the wiring closed and exclude dust and the attention of any marauding rats. These systems are usually available in standard lengths that can be cut to size during installation and often include accessories such as sockets, bends and decorative covers. Trunks are also available as multi-bay systems to separate sensitive data cables from interfering power cables.

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If the PC station spaghetti joint is bad news, the average production plant is an absolute wiring nightmare. Industrial facilities often include thousands of electrical outlets and their associated wiring, and it is essential to efficiently manage these masses of cables. Industrial wire trough types are more functional than decorative and usually consist of expanded metal, wire mesh or stainless steel strip sections. These gutters are usually left open unless exposed to a hazardous or corrosive atmosphere. Typically much larger than a domestic trunking, a commercial wire trunking can accommodate several hundred large high voltage cables in an organized and logical manner.

This serves the additional purpose of making it easier for electricians to trace cables during installation, an essential part of fault finding in these environments. Substations often have concrete trenches under the distribution mechanism to accommodate the cabling. These megawire gutter variants are usually large enough to walk around, although they serve the same basic purpose as the spaghetti-destroying homemade variety.

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