Why is Copper Wire such a Popular Wire Choice?
Copper wire cables and bare wire are one of the most used alloys when it comes to electrical work. In fact, over one-third of all the copper produced is used in electrical engineering and for the domestic use of electricity. So why is it that copper, whither in bare copper wire form or as one of many other alloys such as our tinned copper wire strands, is the most popular material in electrical engineering?
The answer behind that is surprisingly simple. Copper is one of the more unique materials that are readily available to use, due to its high ductility, or ability to be stretched into wire, high tensile strength, and outstanding conductivity.
While the conductivity of different copper wires shift dependent upon the type of wire, such tinned copper wire vs. silver plated copper wires, in copper itself boasts the highest electrical conductivity rating of all non-precious metals. In fact, the high thermal and electrical conductivity of copper is second only to silver custom wire.
The thermal conductivity is also very important as it allows copper wires, nickel coated or otherwise, to disperse heat. This helps to reduce energy consumption by lowering how much energy is lost as heat, and helps to prevent dangerous hotspots in electrical terminals. It also makes copper an easily solderable material, which is crucial in electrical wiring systems for ensuring strong connections and joints.
Tensile strength, or the amount of force needed to pull an object apart, is relatively high for copper. It features a tensile strength of about 200-250 N/ mm2 which makes it a useful building material and a popular alloy for building wire. This high tensile strength allows copper wire to resist creep, cracking, breaks, stretching and other forms of deformation that would otherwise cause failure or service interruption.
This increased strength is an important factor in copper’s creep resistance. Creep is a major problem with other alloys and wires, where the material gradually deforms from being powered on and off. The constant expansion and compression can cause wires to come loose, connections to heat or arcing to occur. But as copper and it’s many forms and alloys such as tinned copper wires or nickel plated wires resist this, it makes it a much safer and lower maintenance material as periodic checks and screw tightening do not need to occur as frequently as other materials.
Bare stranded copper wires and other forms of copper wire are easily made due to copper’s high ductility. Copper is easy to craft into any number of products and specialty wire and cable, which increases how often it is used. Copper is also easy to merge with other alloys such as tin and nickel to create different copper alloys used for making items such as tinned copper wire. Because of this versatility while still being readily available and cheap compared to other alloys and metals, copper wires find great use in electrical engineering worldwide.
There are many different reasons why copper is such a popular choice, but it is these primary three properties that earn copper it’s title as the most popular choice in electrical engineering. And as copper is a plentiful and fairly priced resource, it makes it as cost-effective as it is conductive!