Copper vs Aluminium Wiring: Which Is Best?
Copper vs Aluminium Wiring: Which Is Best?
Both aluminium and copper are the commonly used materials in the manufacturing of electrical wiring. As both of these metals are conductors of electricity the current moves through them with little or no resistance. Aside from being conductive, aluminium and copper have many different characteristics that make them different. Consequently, both kinds of electrical wiring have their own advantages and disadvantages.
In this article, we will discuss copper and aluminium wiring and help you decide which one is best for you. Continue reading to know the difference between copper and aluminium wiring.
Copper wiring has been in use for more than a half-century in both commercial and residential electrical systems. Copper wiring is mostly preferred over aluminium wiring due to its higher tensile strength. Copper’s tensile strength is 40 percent higher than aluminium's.
With such a high tensile strength, the chances for copper wiring to break are far less than aluminium wiring. It is an important characteristic of wiring because it is often installed by pulling through feeders and ports. Fragile or weak wiring is likely to break during the installation process. The high tensile strength of copper wiring protects the wire from breaking or other physical damage.
The thermal expansion coefficient of copper wiring is also less as compared to the aluminium counterpart. It means that copper wires do not expand the same as aluminium wires when exposed to heat. When electricity moves through the wiring the temperature increases. The higher thermal expansion of aluminium wiring makes it expand more compared to copper wiring. Too much expansion of wiring can cause the area to break where wiring is joined or spliced.
Copper wiring: Advantages
The conductivity of copper is higher than aluminium that means the smaller conductors can do the job. This makes the installation process much easier where many conductors join the same raceway. The conduit can also be smaller than those required for aluminium of similar ampacity.
Unlike aluminium, copper doesn’t go through contraction and expansion cycles. Copper’s tensile strength enables it to tolerate wear and tear with time without showing the effects like aluminium. Therefore, copper is a more state and durable choice.
Copper can also be used to make fine wires thanks to its high ductile characteristics. It enhances the versatility and usefulness of copper wires. Virtually the copper wires are maintenance-free due to their high tensile strength. They go through high stress but exhibit very few wear and tear signs. So, we can say that copper wiring worth the cost.
Copper wiring: Disadvantages
Copper wires are much costly compared to aluminium wires. When extensive wiring is needed to perform the job, the overall price for copper wiring can prove to be too much expensive.
Moreover, the weight of copper wiring is much higher than aluminium wiring that can even complex the installation process. Copper wires also need some support to keep intact over long distances. It can lead to additional costs in big installations.
Similar to copper, aluminium is a conductive metal, so it is a commonly used material in the building of electrical wiring. However, the strength of aluminium wiring is low than copper wiring and its thermal expansion coefficient is also higher. Still, there are some advantages that make aluminium wiring a great material to use in the making of electric wiring.
The cost of aluminium wiring is always less compared to copper wiring. It is common for aluminium wiring to available at half the cost of copper wiring. For homes, utilizing aluminium wires rather than copper can help builders save hundreds of dollars. When it comes to commercial buildings, the saved cost can be thousands of dollars.
Aluminium wiring: Advantages
The best thing about aluminium wiring is that it is less costly compared to copper wiring. The lower price tag makes it more appropriate to use, particularly in bigger projects that require lots of wiring. In such kinds of installations, copper ends up with more cost.
Aluminium is a very flexible and lightweight material that makes it easier to use. This feature of aluminium wiring can result in fast installation and quick wire pulls in long runs.
Aluminium wiring: Disadvantages
Aluminium conductors are usually larger compared to copper conductors. It means they will need larger raceways and more cost. In various systems, it is proved to be a drawback of aluminium over copper.
If not installed properly with great care, aluminium wiring can cause house fires. Contraction and expansion cycles in aluminium wiring have an increased impact than using copper wiring. With time, the connections get loose from these cycles. If you don’t perform regular inspection of these connections and don’t tighten the loose connections, the risk of fire will increase.
Aluminium metal is vulnerable to oxidation. It happens when aluminium is exposed to moisture and other different metals. In the connections, oxidation increases the resistance. With extreme resistance, a wire can heat up and melt the insulation in the surrounding that can lead to a fire. It can be prevented by an anti-oxidation compound.
Aluminium wiring needs more maintenance as compared to copper wiring. It involves checking tight connections within the conductors and the occurrence of oxidation.
Copper vs Aluminium: Which wiring material is right for your home?
As both wiring materials have their particular uses, it is obvious that both copper and aluminium wiring will not go away soon. But copper wiring is suggested for home use as its benefits outweigh the drawbacks.
You can call an expert electrician to look for any aluminium wiring in your home electrical system that has to be replaced by the copper to guarantee a long time of problem-free electrical connections. Copper wiring is also strong and chances for it to break are very less.
On the other hand, aluminium wiring is less costly compared to copper wiring and is easier to work with due to its flexibility. We hope that this post gives you a better idea about the difference between copper and aluminium wiring.