Electricians have been using copper for electrical wiring since the 1820s. It may surprise you to know that since then, we’ve never found, or needed, a replacement! Copper has numerous properties that make it ideal for electrical wiring. In fact, we can likely expect copper to continue to be used far into the future.
What makes copper wiring so unique?
Ductile and Malleable—ductility and malleability are two very useful properties of metals. Something that is ductile can be hammered into a thin wire easily, and something malleable can be manipulated and bent into shapes easily. These properties make copper wires inexpensive to produce and easy to install.
Excellent conductivity—copper’s electrical conductivity is far superior to other types of non-precious metals, which allows it to carry greater amounts of current with a smaller diameter wire.
Non-corrosive—one of the biggest benefits of copper wiring is that it is non-corrosive, able to survive in harsh environments with almost no risk of wear and tear. It’s not uncommon to see copper wires last for 40 years or more!
All of these properties make copper the gold (or should we say copper!) standard in the electrical industry. For both commercial and domestic purposes, copper is considered the go-to material for wiring. In fact, most modern buildings being constructed today are designed to accept copper wiring. The prevalence of copper wiring makes rewiring a lot easier as well.
Aluminum vs. Copper Wiring
During the 1960s and 70s, aluminum wiring was used in many homes as a cheaper alternative to copper. Unfortunately, problems were discovered with aluminum wiring. The biggest danger associated with aluminum wiring is that it can react to materials used in outlets, light fixtures, and splices, where it can oxidize, deteriorate, overheat, and catch fire. The CPSC estimates that about 2 million homes were built with aluminum wiring between 1965 and 1973—and many of these homes are located in the MD, VA, and DC area.
The other problem with aluminum wiring is its high electrical resistance, which makes it more difficult for current to flow. As a result, you experience greater losses with aluminum wiring than you would with copper.
More than any other material, copper has stood the test of time for use in residential and commercial applications. If you’ve been thinking about rewiring your home and want to use the best materials possible, call Kolb Electric today!