Aluminum vs Copper Wire

Many homeowners wonder whether to use copper or aluminum wiring when they remodel or rewire their home. If you are going through the steps to upgrade your home’s electrical wiring it is best to choose the safer and more durable option. Aluminum wiring should be avoided in homes electrical wiring because it is a less stable metal to transfer electricity through.

Aluminum Wiring

Since electrical utility companies began to construct modern power distribution systems in the late 1800s, aluminum has been the choice for wiring power grids. Aluminum is used on larger scale power distribution systems because it is far cheaper and more lightweight than copper.

Because it’s relatively light in weight, aluminum is easier than copper to work with. this makes it more practical for smaller electronic devices, less strenuous electrical wiring, and long distance connections.

When copper prices were unusually high from the 1960s to the mid-1970s, the residential construction industry often used aluminum to wire entire homes. Aluminum does not react the same way copper reacts which opened a home up to a wealth of electrical issues and dangers down the line.

Aluminum Durability

Because aluminum is a softer metal and is made of a loop or string of aluminum rather than a single large cord like the copper wiring is, it is more susceptible to damage. When working home repairs in the attic, crawl space, or walls it can be easy to knick and cut aluminum wiring. This will open the wiring up to make electrical connections with particles and material surrounding it potentially causing a fire.

Aluminum Movement

When an electric current runs through aluminum wiring, it heats it up and expands the wiring more than it would do in copper. Over time and continued use the copper wiring can break down the wiring loom, or electrical connection with tall outlets switched and daisy chain looping. Because aluminum heats up more than copper when the wiring does move away from electrical fixtures and connections, it could potentially start a fire.

Aluminum Rusting

aluminum is also more susceptible to rusting over time than copper. Rusting is an issue for copper and aluminum both, but when copper rusts the oxidized metal is still conductive. Aluminum rust, typically white in color is not conductive and can cause for electrical restriction. When this occurs the aluminum wire can heat up further creating a fire hazard.

The cost of aluminum wire is about half that of copper, and that affordability can make a substantial difference is why aluminum wiring is a popular choice for the power grid. Because of the price difference, many people choose aluminum wiring over copper to cut the cost of an electrical wiring project. Those cost savings, however, come with many issues and when you are planning an electrical wiring project, it is best to choose the safer and more durable electrical wiring option.

Copper Wiring

Copper wiring is used in most electrical wiring, power generation, transmission, distribution, and circuitry because of its high conductivity and durability. The only downside to copper wiring is the price. Copper is not by any means expensive, but it is more costly than aluminum wiring.

Copper Durability

Because of its strength and flexibility, copper wiring is easy to install. It’s flexible enough to twist without the risk of breaking. Its sturdiness allows it to be pulled undamaged through conduits, and its hardness ensures connections will remain solidly secured. Because of its high conductivity rate, copper can easily be soldered and requires smaller conductors, which are inexpensive and easy to install.

History of Copper Wire

Copper use in electrical wiring precedes that of aluminum. Ben Franklin worked with copper in his early experiments with electricity. The invention of the electromagnet and telegraph in the early 19th century, followed by that of the telephone a half century later, created a growing demand for copper wire.

Should You Use Alumn

Because of the electrical issues surrounding aluminum wire, copper wire is the better choice for long term wiring solutions. The cost of replacing copper wiring years down the line will more than outweigh the cost of investing a little more to install copper wiring the first time. At Allgood Electric, we only offer the best and safest wiring solutions for our customers. Some contractors are driven by creating the lowest price install, but Allgood Electric builds to last.

If you have any electrical wiring that needs to be done and aren’t sure where to start, Allgood Electric can help. Our technicians are experienced, licensed, and insured and ready for your next project. Contact us today for a free quote.

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