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Pros and Cons of Copper and Aluminum Electrical Wiring

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Aluminum vs. Copper Wire

While copper wire is increasingly more popular than aluminum wire, aluminum isn’t without its distinct advantages. Likewise, copper has disadvantages just like aluminum does. When you’re deciding on which material is best for your project, you have to weigh the pros and cons of both.

Pros and Cons of Aluminum Wire

Aluminum wire is generally easier to work with than copper, because it is lightweight and easy to manipulate. This makes it popular when making connections across long distances. Also making it popular for long-distance applications is the cost, as aluminum wiring is significantly less expensive than copper. When you work with copper wiring, you can need up to twice as much actual wiring than you would using aluminum, and that adds up.

However, aluminum is more susceptible to corrosion, and requires periodic replacement. Water and even certain metals corrode aluminum, and the more it corrodes, the more it represents a fire hazard. Traditionally, aluminum wire that isn’t properly maintained or installed can be a liability—if carefully installed and replaced, though, this risk is significantly reduced.

Pros and Cons of Copper Wire

Copper wire is instead of aluminum more and more, though it isn’t without its faults. As far as pros go, copper is an extremely powerful electrical conductor, and it is much more stable over time than aluminum. It withstands higher temperatures than aluminum does, and it doesn’t corrode to the same effect. Because of its long life and resistance to damage, it doesn’t need replaced nearly as often.

With that longevity, however, comes a price. Copper is significantly more expensive than aluminum wire, and requires a much larger initial investment. Not only that, but the material is heavier, which may necessitate more structural support.

Because of their different capabilities and prices, neither aluminum nor copper wire are going away anytime soon. The pros of one material are the cons of another, so it all depends on your application of them. For example, aluminum remains a favorite material in the construction of airplanes for its light weight, while investing in copper can raise the value of a home.

More Details about these Materials

To learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of these distinctly different materials, contact Arcor Electronics.