When performing indoor wiring projects, most people flock to Romex. But what about UF-B?
The ‘B’ in UF-B is a classification that shows that UF-B cables can survive underground without a conduit. UF-B cables are a perfect fit for direct burial. They are incredibly resistant to moisture and corrosion. They can also withstand pests without a conduit. For that reason, they are primarily used outside.
Can I Use UF-B Indoors?
You can install UF-B indoors but your biggest concern is money. the price of UF-B is roughly 20 percent higher than that of NM-B. The average homeowner cannot afford to spend money on UF-B for indoor use when Romex can work just as effectively.
If the price isn’t enough to scare you away, the installation challenges will probably give you pause. Stripping and pinching UF-B cables is no easy task. That isn’t surprising. UF-B cables are tougher than their indoor counterparts. Their jackets are designed to resist moisture, UV rays, corrosive chemicals, and the like.
As such, unless you have the right tools and experience, it may take you a while to strip your UF-B cabling.
Pulling UF-B cables through a conduit is challenging. People rarely pair UF-B with pipes because you can bury UF-B directly without a tube. However, you can run the wires through a conduit if you want. But the task is complex and probably not worth the hassle, even though the pipe enhances the durability of the UF-B cable.
Thus, I suggest you other two options for indoors.
Romex is not a type of wire but, rather, a brand of indoor wiring. Although, it is so common that most people use the term ‘Romex’ to refer to indoor wiring. Romex cables use PVC insulation and nylon jackets.
Available in various gauges (8 – 14AWG), they are suitable for most dry, interior applications. Romex cables are not that difficult to identify. They consist of wires wrapped in paper and encased in a loose plastic sheath.
Understanding Romex will give you a better appreciation for the attributes UF cables bring to the table. First of all, UF cables are different from UF-B cables. Some laypeople use these terms interchangeably.
Once you understand the characteristics of UF cables, you will appreciate the importance of the question above.
UF cables differ from Romex because they feature a solid plastic jacket.
This matters because Romex can only work indoors. On the other hand, contractors can install UF cabling inside and outside. You can use UF wires to extend electricity from the main house to a shed, garage, outdoor light, etc.
UF cables are strong enough to withstand elements like direct sunlight and moisture. As such, you can install them above ground. If you prefer to hide your electrical conductors underground, you can run UF cables through conduits before burying them.
This is another benefit that elevates UF above Romex. If you must choose between the two, UF is the superior option.
What Does The Code Say About It?
The NEC has approved UF-B for direct burial. It has not prohibited the use of UF-B indoors. Therefore, installing UF-B inside is not against the rules. That being said, if you’re determined to run UF-B inside, make sure you apply the NEC regulations that govern Romex installations indoors to the UF-B wires.
Pros Of Using UF-B Cable Indoors
People use outdoor cables like UF-B indoors because the practice has several benefits, including:
1). Outdoor wires like UF-B offer superior insulation. You can protect Romex wires from high temperatures, moisture, humidity, and the like by running the conductors through a conduit.
A UF-B cable can withstand all those elements without a conduit. This is appealing because conduits are an inconvenience. It takes too much time and effort to pull a wire through a conduit. Unfortunately, conduits are necessary. You need them to protect fragile electrical wiring. Fortunately, UF-B is so strong that you can bury the cable without a conduit. This speaks volumes about its sturdy construction.
2). You can find UF-B cables in thicker gauges. In other words, they will transmit more current without overheating. This is perfect for projects that require long wires. Don’t forget that longer wires are more likely to overheat because they have higher resistance.
3). Outdoor cables guarantee grounding. This is not always the case where indoor wiring is concerned.
4). You can install UF-B cables indoors and outdoors, which is beneficial because it allows you to run your wires from inside to targets outside, such as an exterior lamp post. You don’t have to buy a different set of cables for outdoor use. UF-B can perform both tasks.
Things To Consider Before Using UF-B Wires Indoors
Using UF-B wires indoors is no different from using Romex. You have to keep the same considerations in mind. That includes the material, temperature rating, and gauge. UF-B cables are tougher than Romex.
However, you are still expected to select the correct gauge, a decision that takes the material and temperature into account.
The only factor that sets UF-B apart is the cost. Conduits don’t matter with this type of wire. You don’t have to consider the impact of corrosive elements or pests. UF-B will stand the test of time.
If you’ve installed Romex indoors before, you can apply the same procedures to UF-B. This is also true for the NEC’s rules. The regulations that apply to Romex will also apply to UF-B. However, can you afford UF-B in the first place?
If you can afford the wiring, you can go ahead and install it. Nothing will stop you.