We are often asked, ‘What is the difference between Modular Plug-and-Play wiring and a standard modular wiring system?’
Most companies in our industry offer a wiring system that is modular in nature. Varying from company to company they range from a customer doing all of the electrical work to a plug-and-play type application with very little labor. I’ll try to go in detail on each of these so you can better understand the differences.
There are two different areas that any office or building gets wired. The posts or vertical channels and the branch circuits which tied back to the load center or sub-panel. The first area I would like to talk about is the vertical posts. Most companies are industry provide conduit and boxes just like you would see in most construction applications. They do not include any wire to wiring any of the devices such as plugs, light switches and light fixtures.
The conduit comes raw, unfinished, and cut and unbent. This means the consumer would be responsible to precut all of the material and in close it inside the wall system during installation. The result of that would be that the customer would have to hire an electrician to wire all of the devices and provide all the wire to do so. In addition all the branch wiring back to the sub-panel is not included. There are many different variations of this. You have to be extra careful to see (wiring by others) in the body of their quote or proposal.
There are just a few companies that wire the posts at their plant. Obtaining and (UL) Underwriters Laboratory classification rating to pre-install there wiring at their factories. This makes the site installation much quicker and cleaner. Also the electrical is tested to ensure it meets all local electrical standards.
The branch circuits, in other words all the wiring to one location is either provided by the manufacturer or the customer. Again I caution you to verify what the facts are before placing an order with any company. There are some companies that provide a standard BX cable to the proper length, preplanned and laid out on your blueprint. However, if you are not familiar with standard electricity you will need to hire an electrician to wire all the connections and test them for your safety. If you ever have any electrical failures it is easy to trace. All the wiring can be exposed and thoroughly tested without much effort.
Instead of using a BX cable, a modular wiring plug can be installed at each end. This allows the customer to just plug in either side according to the blueprint and the wiring is done. However, if you ever want to change the configuration or layout of your building new material must be ordered to make that change. Also if there is any wiring short or problem in any circuit, it is almost impossible to find.
Allied Modular provides both. We are only one of two companies nationally that UL approved our components completely assembled. Most companies just state that they use UL approved components. Of course every duplex, light switch, light fixture, conduit and wire are our all UL approved by either being listed, or classified. You cannot buy any of these components in United States without UL Approval.
Modular plug-and-play wiring is more expensive than traditional wiring. The labor cost is really being incurred at the factory level instead of in the field. By having a company provide a pre-wired UL classified posts system and all the materials including the wire to be pre-cut and predetermined is very quick and changeable at any time.
When picking a wiring application for your building, be sure you understand all of the facts prior to making your decision. It can cost you more in the end if you do not understand which type up suits you best.