It’s nearly impossible to tell what your home needs will be 5 or 10 years from now. That is why it’s important to future-proof your home.
Technology changes and cabling standards change too. For all we know, HDMI and Cat5 may be outdated and so planning ahead of these changes may be the only decision for your home today. It will also save you time and money.
Installing a smurf tube throughout your house is one of the most innovative ways to future-proof your home. It will allow you the flexibility of replacing and removing outdated cables without tearing down your home.
Keep reading to learn what a smurf tube is and what size you will need for your HDMI cables.
What is the smurf tube used for?
A smurf tube conduit is a flexible tubing made of corrugated PVC material. It is often used to future-proof low voltage cables and wires like the PJ and the HDMI cables. It is also used to protect the current wires and cable.
In addition, it makes future wiring system additions and modifications easier.
Smurf tubes mostly come in different sizes, ½”, ¾,” 1″ and 2″ but you can order it in a bigger size. It is lightweight, hand bendable, non-conductive, moisture, flame, and corrosion-resistant.
The tube can be run from a distribution point to the farthest outlet during the drywall stage. For instance, you can run it from the basement, through the master bedroom, and the attic.
Smurf tube isn’t the original name of this conduit. In the electrical world, it’s referred to as Electrical Nonmetallic Tubing or ENT.
The name smurf tube is a nickname borrowed from “Smurfs,” the animation characters because of its distinctive blue color.
Popular brands like Carlon, HD, and Lowes have the smurf tube in blue, but It is also available in orange.
Both the orange and blue colors are great color options. They make it easy to distinguish low voltage runs from high voltage during installation.
Smurf tube is recommended only for in-wall installation and concrete encasement, not outdoor use or exposed locations. The tubing is not designed to withstand the sun’s ultraviolet rays as no UV inhibitors are added to the PVC compound.
It is also not rated for protection against any environmental elements or physical damage.
What smurf tube size do I need for my HDMI cables?
The rule of thumb when determining the size of the conduit for running cables and wires is to measure the diameter of the cable and then get a conduit that has a larger diameter than the cable.
For HDMI cables, you will measure the size of the widest end of the connector and then get a smurf cable size that is bigger.
For instance, a standard HDMI cable size is ¾”; therefore, a 1″ smurf cable is a good size to go for. However, it’s always best to go for even two sizes up.
If planning to run multiple HDMI cables, then you will have to get tubing that is bigger than the sum total of the HDMI cable sizes.
How do I get HDMI cords (& connectors) through smurf tubes?
If you’ve ever tried to pull an HDMI cable through any conduit, you know it is not an easy task, especially if pulling extremely long runs.
Unless you are pulling through a perfectly straight and short conduit, you are bound to deal with friction and resistance when the cable gets stuck, making the entire process complex.
There are, however, a few tricks and tools that can help you successfully pull HDMI cords plus the connectors through smurf tubes:
Using a fish tape
The fish tape is the most common tool used by electrical installers for pulling cables and wires through flexible conduits.
The fish tape is available in a variety of lengths, up to 100 feet. So be sure to get the right size.
Using a pull string and tape
Using a pull-string taped to the cable is perhaps the simplest way to pull the cable through the tubing.
Get a long, strong pull string of any kind and tape the HDMI cable. Make sure the connector overlaps the string at least 2 inches or until the ridge is covered.
This will help ease the pressure on the connector during pulling and help prevent the cable from getting stuck.
Position the string at the middle of the smurf tube and hold it as straight as possible while pulling.
If you suspect it will get stuck, you can apply an electrical lube to the taped part.
Wire pulling rods
Wire pulling rods are much similar to fish tape but shorter in length. They are best used for pulling shorter cable runs along with tight spaces.
Wire pulling rods come in various head shapes, such as loops, magnetic heads, and hooks. There are even some that shine in the dark, known as glow rods.
Lubricating the cable
As you can tell by now, it isn’t easy to pull an HDMI cord through when there are bends and turns.
To make the pulling much more manageable, it’s best tot lubricate the cable before pulling it. There is a special electrical lube that you can use.
It’s non-conductive, and it’s available either as a gel, wax, or slime. The slippery nature of the wire pulling compound makes it easy for the cable to slide through the smurf tube with ease.
To use the lube, apply it directly to the HDMI cable to coat the entire length. Apply more lube to the taped end and less as you move towards the end. This is because as the cable moves through the smurf tube, it leaves some lube behind so by the time you pull the end of the cable, the conduit is nearly fully coated.
Once fully covered, you can use any of the above methods of pulling.
Compared to PVC tubing, smurf tubings are extremely easy to work with since they are not rigid. Additionally, they are cheaper than PVC.
When installing smurf tubing, run all the current cables outside the conduit and leave the tubing empty for future additions.
Remember to avoid sharp bends to make it easy to pull and fish out the HDMI cables. If you must include some curves, keep the number to a minimum.