Aluminum (Al) and copper (Cu) are the most used materials for wiring purpose across the world. In America for example, Aluminum was so extensively used before 60s. Its popularity declined since then, but it’s resurrected again in 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.
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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 electrical application. In the past, Aluminum used to be more relevant to be used as breakers, fuses, or bus bars.
Both of these metals have excellent conductivity so they allow electricity to easily pass through them. 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 between copper vs aluminum wire current capacity, Copper provides higher capacity per volume, while the latter has 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 in comparison of copper vs aluminum wire size. It results in the need to upsize conduit in order to correspondent with the Aluminum size, if you decide to use it.
The size, however, provide 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 of aluminum wire vs copper wire underground, copper has better lifespan.
Due to the fact that aluminum can be corroded easily, its joints must be accompanied with special treatments such as special coating with 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 in the half price of copper.
In conclusion, aluminum and copper are both very commonly used for wiring purposes in residential, commercial, and industrial property.
However, for residential use, it is mostly recommended 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 the benefits of both materials, 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 to 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.