Comparisons of Aluminum Vs Copper Wire for the Best Electrical Use

Aluminum (Al) and copper (Cu) are the most used materials for wiring purposes worldwide. In America, for example, aluminum was used extensively 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 other qualities, which can be seen from the weight, capacity, or cost. Aluminum and copper also have differences as a part of the electrical application. In the past, aluminum used to be more relevant for breakers, fuses, or bus bars.

In recent years, copper conductors have become more commonly chosen by engineers and electricians, though aluminum conductors are still prevalent.

Aluminum Vs Copper Wire Comparisons

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 in several aspects:

Electrical Capacity and Material Weight

Electrical capacity is often the main consideration when using 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.

Aluminum conductors, being larger, have a greater cross-sectional area compared to copper. This results in needing to upsize the conduit to accommodate aluminum’s size, although this also makes it more resistant to mechanical wear and more flexible than copper wire.

Diameter Size

Aluminum conductors, being larger, have a greater cross-sectional area compared to copper. This results in needing to upsize the conduit to accommodate aluminum’s size, although this also makes it more resistant to mechanical wear and more flexible than copper wire.

The size, however, also provides benefits, such as being more resistant to mechanical wear break and flexible compared to copper wire conductors.

Endurance

Aluminum is more susceptible to corrosion, requiring special treatments like conductive coatings or anti-corrosion measures for durability. Copper, known for its tensile strength, offers a longer lifespan, especially in underground installations.

Because aluminum can be corroded easily, its joints must be accompanied by special treatments such as special coating with a conductive material, anti-oxidant, or anti-corrosion. It must also be sealed for underground wiring purposes to prevent hazards that cause electrocution, fire, or failure.

Cost

Regarding 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.

Workability

Copper’s higher tensile strength makes it more durable, yet aluminum’s lightweight nature and larger diameter make it easier to work with in specific applications.

In conclusion, aluminum and copper are commonly used for wiring purposes in residential, commercial, and industrial property.

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However, it is mainly 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.

Considering both materials’ benefits, it is safe to assume that aluminum and copper wiring will last for a long time. You may have your system checked and consult a professional electrician to decide which aluminum vs. copper wire is the best to use to ensure problem-free electrical connections in the upcoming years.

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