What do you think of when you hear the word “Raceway”? Maybe you think of a race track where some kind of competitive speed event takes place, involving cars or horses or video game characters riding go-karts. And there's nothing wrong with that. That is, in fact, a “raceway”.
But, as Wikipedia tells us, raceway can also refer to a “surface mounted wire moulding”. Maybe that doesn't clear it up very much, but basically what it refers to is a channel to run cables through, that mounts on a wall, or a desk, or some other surface, concealing wires or cables so your set-up looks nice and pretty. It's legitimately one of the most useful and versatile cable management tools for both home users and professionals, and can do wonders for both a DIY home theater set-up and a professional conference room at a Fortune 500 company.
So, it's a track for hiding cables. But it's much more complex than that: there are tons of different types of raceway, each suited for a unique application. What are the differences? Which one is right for you? If those are your questions, then you've come to the right place. Let's take a look:
For the Home
Around the house, Latching Raceway is the tried and true, go-to solution for your basic cable management needs. It's typically found in straight sections of various length (though sometimes it's on a roll) and it usually features a hinged latching top. You open the latch, pop some cables inside, and then close it back up, concealing them from view. It's extremely versatile: It can be cut to the desired size, painted to match the surrounding décor, and myriad accessories are available to get just the right set up. Elbow bends, T-junctions, couplers and more can help you make turns, go around corners or split your cables off in different directions. It typically features an adhesive backing that lets it install on smooth flat walls with no tools at all. Just peel and stick. It works really well for speaker wire, TV cables or other cords that travel up walls.
For cables that travel closer to the floor or ceiling, Corner Duct is probably a better bet. It's a quarter-round shaped wire moulding that blends into the wall/ceiling junctions or baseboards. It's like a crown moulding, but with the added functionality of hiding your unsightly cables (score!). There's even a literal Crown Molding Surface Raceway available, for that extra decorative touch.
For the Professional
All of the previously mentioned raceways would be fine to use in an office, but there are also specialized versions that are designed to work with office furniture, conference tables, and the like. J Channels, for example, are perfect for running along the back or underside of a desk or table, and help elevate cables while still allowing them to be easily accessed. The wires simply drop in through the top and can be removed the same way. Like latching raceway and corner duct, J channels usually feature a self-adhesive backing which means tools aren't required.
For running networking, power or surveillance cables over floors, you may want to turn to Wiremold's OFR Series Overfloor Raceways. These 4-channel ADA compliant systems are available in aluminum or cold rolled steel, and provide maximum protection from foot traffic, wheelchairs, carts or whatever else might stomp/roll over them.
There are also several types of raceway that feature power and data access built directly into them. These Power Raceways are great for extending connections to away-from-the-wall locations while still concealing the bulk of the cabling. It's a great choice for offices, but also warehouses, stores, factories and more.
For the Outdoors
What about cables that have to run on the outside of buildings or other structures, like utility poles? In that case you'll want something that's specifically designed to stand up to the elements. That's where Wire Guard comes in. It's like the rugged, beard-having, hiking-boots-wearing cousin of indoor surface raceway. Made of high impact PVC to protect the cables held within from environmental perils (not to mention nosy children, pets, raccoons or other varmints, etc.), it's available in two versions: one for standard vertical cable management (for data or communication cables) and another with a belled end that meets “complete enclosure” requirements for high voltage cable management.
It lacks some of the bells and whistles of typical home or office surface raceway: no self-adhesive backing or latching covers here. But what it loses in convenience it makes up for in durability. It can take a punch and keep on guarding your outdoor cables like a champ.
For Commercial / Industrial Settings
There's also a little something called Extruded Aluminum Surface Raceway, which is tough enough for outdoor applications, and looks great in industrial or commercial settings.
Usually, in these types of settings (think server room, warehouse, factory), cables are guided through wire cable trays. This is convenient, because it allows for easy access to cables, and has space for ventilation and allows dust and other materials to fall through without settling on the cables.
This isn't always feasible though. Sometimes, your cables are just too precious to allow them to be supported by nothing but wire trays. Fiber optic cables, for example, are extremely sensitive, and must be protected from the dangerous world around them. Like a baby or a delicate flower.
Fortunately, there's a raceway alternative, which you probably guessed since this article is all about raceway. Fiber Runner Cable Channels by Panduit are similar to raceway in their enclosed construction (made from PVC), but function like cable trays in that they can be mounted and routed in many different directions to create your desired cable run.
Maybe you're just working with non-fiber low-voltage power or communication cables, but still need more protection than a wire tray provides. There's a raceway for that too: the Cable Runway Support System is a modular, easy to install option that can hold up to 6 lbs. of cable per foot.
And there you have it! Hopefully now, when you think “raceway”, you'll think of protecting cables as well as things going around a track at fast speeds. Which is much less exciting …so, sorry for that, we guess?