Aluminum (Al) and copper (Cu) are the most used materials for wiring purposes worldwide. In America, for example, Aluminum was so extensively used before the 60s. Its popularity declined since then, but it’s resurrected again in the 90s.
Copper, however, has been steadily used. The comparison between aluminum vs. copper wire below will show the advantages and disadvantages of these two elements.
Aluminum Vs. Copper Wire Comparisons
Different materials sure have different qualities, which can be seen from the weight, capacity, or cost. Aluminum and copper also have differences as a part of the electrical application. Aluminum used to be more relevant to be used as breakers, fuses, or bus bars in the past.
Both of these metals have excellent conductivity, so they allow electricity to pass through them easily. However, aside from this particular characteristic, there’s not so much similarity between them. Here are some of the differences from several aspects:
Electrical Capacity and Material Weight
Electrical capacity is often being the main consideration when choosing to use aluminum or copper. When comparing copper vs. aluminum wire current capacity, Copper provides higher capacity per volume, while the latter has a higher electrical capacity per weight. Aluminum is roughly 60-70% lighter compared to copper.
As the larger conductor, aluminum measured bigger in terms of outer diameter than copper vs. aluminum wire size. It results in the need to upsize the conduit to correspond with the Aluminum size if you decide to use it.
The size, however, provides benefits as well, such as being more resistant to mechanical wear break and flexible compared to copper wire conductors.
When used for wiring, aluminum is the more vulnerable material to corrosion. In comparison to aluminum wire vs. copper wire underground, copper has a better lifespan.
Because aluminum can be corroded easily, its joints must be accompanied with special treatments such as special coating with a conductive material, anti-oxidant, or anti-corrosion. For underground wiring purpose, it also must e sealed to prevent hazard that causes electrocution, fire, or failure.
In terms of aluminum vs. copper wire costs, aluminum is much more affordable than copper elements. In general, you can get the same amount of aluminum at half the price of copper.
In conclusion, aluminum and copper are commonly used for wiring purposes in residential, commercial, and industrial property.
However, it is mostly recommended for residential use to use copper as its advantages outweigh its disadvantages. The ideal decision between both may depend on your project, location, situation, or safety requirements.
By considering both materials’ benefits, it is safe to assume that aluminum and copper wiring will last for a long time in the future. You may have your system checked and consult with a professional electrician to decide which one of aluminum vs. copper wire is the best to use to ensure problem-free electrical connections in the upcoming years.