Brief Guide to Aluminum and Copper Wire

Because copper and aluminum wire have several different properties, there are different scenarios and purposes for each. This article will offer insight on which types of projects require the use of wiring – and which type of conductor is appropriate.

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Copper wire (left) compared to aluminum wire (right)

Copper Wire Applications and Considerations

For building wire, copper is often preferred over aluminum wire. Copper conductors are often used in power distribution and power generation as well. Other than silver, copper is the most common conductive metal there is.

Copper is more often used in the manufacturing of wire than aluminum, and most cables are made of copper. This type of wire is usually relied on for power transmission, and copper is resistant to corrosion. It can also withstand load surges better than aluminum wiring.

Copper wire is a strong electrical conductor and is very stable over time. It won’t need to be replaced often, and thus has a long life. Like aluminum, it can be used in commercial or industrial buildings. Copper is heavier than aluminum wiring, and can be the most economical of all conductors as well.

For electrical contractors, copper is the wire of choice for most jobs. The electrical contractor prefers copper for several reasons – for one, copper will not creep. Creeping is the deformation of metal conductors that results from subjection to stress or a pulling force, which can lead to termination issues, such as a screw squeezing and deforming the conductor causing a loose connection or other problems.

Another note of copper is that it is easy to work with. Copper is the preferred wire by electricians, as it strips and bends easily – all without nicking or breaking. Copper wire is approved by electrical codes nationwide.

Copper wiring installation is easy and well-known by electrical contractors. For this reason, it means that a contractor’s electricians won’t have to take time out for any special instructions or qualifications for installing a non-copper wiring.

Copper wiring can best handle overloads – and overloads will not loosen copper joints.  Though copper has been a popular choice for conducting electricity, aluminum, too, has some advantages that make it attractive for specific applications.

Aluminum Wire Applications and Considerations

Like Copper wiring, aluminum has many applications – however, it also has several differences to that of copper. Electrical utilities use aluminum wiring for overhead transmission lines. Aluminum has become more popular for use in commercial facilities – locations that take advantage of aluminum wiring include high rise buildings, stadiums, shopping malls, commercial buildings, wastewater treatment plants and manufacturing facilities.

Aluminum wiring is popular within the construction industry. Contractors have them installed in several places – including service entrance conductors, large conductors as well as power distribution conductors.

Aluminum wiring, when properly installed, is just as safe as copper. Aluminum wiring provides many advantages – it’s low cost, lightweight and is easy to use.

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Stadiums are one example where aluminum wiring is used

Aluminum is easy to work with and can be installed quickly and effectively in many locations. In industrial settings or anywhere that weight is a concern, aluminum wiring will offer a big reduction in weight compared to copper wiring.

It is important that a licensed electrician who understands the concerns of aluminum wiring also handles the installation process. With the correct application, aluminum wiring can provide reliable power while simultaneously offering cost reduction.

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The appropriate wiring to use for any project depends on several factors, including its application as well as budget, code compliance and safety requirements. Whichever you choose, Steiner has the inventory to get your job completed! If you would like to know more about all of the wire options and services available at Steiner, please call us at 1-800-STEINER (783-4637) or stop by any of our nine convenient locations to learn more.

1 thought on “Brief Guide to Aluminum and Copper Wire”

  1. Very good information. I prefer Copper wire for most applications. Although Aluminium is very useful for the construction industry due to the lower cost and ease of use. Copper is such a great conductor of electricity i Prefer to use it on most things. Thanks for the great article

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