Why Choose Copper Over Aluminum for Building Wire?

Why Choose Copper Over Aluminum for Building Wire?
16 Aug 2016

Since electricity was first discovered in the 17th century, copper has been recognized for its unique and beneficial qualities in electrical applications. As an electrical conductor for building wire systems, copper is the most efficient and reliable as well as the strongest metal available today. Over the life of various systems, it can also prove to be the most economical conductor. CDA’s case study, “Connectability Counts” illustrates how beneficial copper is as a conductor and connector in electrical systems when compared to aluminum.

Below are just a few reasons that specifiers, facility managers and electricians should specify copper for building wire systems:

Copper is a better conductor: Copper has an exceptional current-carrying capacity, making it more efficient than any other electrical conductor. Annealed copper is the international standard to which all other electrical conductors are compared.

Copper oxide also conducts electricity: This means that connections and terminations will not overheat and do not require the use of oxide-inhibiting compounds.

Copper provides superior thermal conductivity: Copper’s thermal conductivity is 60 percent better than aluminum, which saves energy and accelerates heat dissipation. This property is also especially helpful at terminations and connections.


Copper is strong: Because of its strength, copper resists stretching, neck-down, creep, nicks and breaks. Copper’s exceptional strength, compared to aluminum conductors, is another reason it has remained the conductor of choice in wiring systems throughout the building industry.

Copper is easy to install: The inherent strength, hardness and flexibility of copper building wire make it very easy to work with. You can bend it or twist it easily and it still will not break.

Copper is corrosion-resistant: Copper is a noble metal. This means it is not subject to galvanic corrosion when connected to other, less noble metals and alloys. Copper wiring will also resist corrosion from moisture, humidity, industrial pollution and other atmospheric influences.


Copper’s performance is respected by building professionals. They know from experience that it is false economy to “save” money by using a substitute material. Copper may cost a little more than aluminum to begin with, but life-cycle cost, which includes installation, extra tools, procedures, materials, service calls, repairs and potential for expansion of the system must also be considered along with the potential liability for inadequate service performance. These are real costs often missed on a first-look basis.

Next time the decision is yours, insist on copper wiring. You’ll be happy you did.

For more technical information on the performance of copper connectors versus aluminum, please review this in-depth study conducted by Powertech Labs INC.


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