What’s a trough?

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Cable trays are devices used to organize and protect cables in homes, offices, and industrial environments. They come in various designs and materials, with some having covers to keep cables hidden and protected. Cable trays can prevent safety hazards, improve system performance, and make troubleshooting easier. Industrial cable trays are larger and more functional, accommodating thousands of cables and making it easier for electricians to trace wires.

A cable tray is a device designed to route, protect and organize cables or wires in a home, office or industrial environment. Wire channels can be strips of box-section molded plastic an inch or so (about 5 cm) square to large concrete trenches several feet (about 6 m) wide and deep. Also known as cable trays, cable trays or conduits, these systems are available in a variety of designs and materials. Cable channels can follow open design patterns or have integral covers that snap onto the channel to keep cables or wires out of sight and protected. Most cable tray designs are available in various lengths as modular systems that can be cut to size on site and include a wide range of accessories.

A quick look behind the average home computer desk or entertainment center usually reveals a rather daunting tangle of printer cords, speaker wires, and power cords. Not only is this spaghetti-shaped mass an eyesore, but it also poses several security risks and can negatively impact system performance. In addition to the obvious monitors, keyboards, and printers toppling if someone trips head over heels over the wiring, there are also potential shock and fire hazards associated with open wiring. The often shocking gastronomic delights that open wiring poses to rodents is another problem. Bundling power and data cables together can also have a serious negative effect on the performance of some equipment.

A cable tray can solve all of these problems by providing an orderly and often closed path for cables. These cable tray systems typically consist of plastic, steel, or aluminum pieces in the shape of a box or tray designed to keep cables and wires neatly and securely hidden away. Commercial or home-use troughs usually come with snap-on lids that keep the wiring closed and keep out dust and the attentions of any predatory mice. These systems usually come in standard lengths that can be cut to size during installation and often include accessories such as socket inserts, bends and decorative end caps. The trunkings are also available as multi-compartment systems to separate sensitive data cables from interference-causing power cables.

If PC station spaghetti splicing is bad news, the average manufacturing plant is a cabling nightmare. Industrial installations often include thousands of electrical points and associated wiring, and it is essential to efficiently manage these masses of cables. Industrial trough types are more functional than decorative and generally consist of sections of expanded metal, wire mesh, or stainless steel strip. These channels are generally left open unless exposed to a hazardous or corrosive atmosphere. Typically much larger than a home trunking, a commercial cable trunking can accommodate several hundred large high-voltage cables in an orderly and logical manner.

This serves the additional purpose of making it easier for electricians to trace wires through the installation, an essential part of troubleshooting in those environments. Substations often have concrete trenches running under the electrical panel to accommodate the wiring. These megawire trough variants are often large enough to walk around in, though they serve the same basic purpose as the spaghetti-splitting household variety.

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