Copper is used in a variety of applications, one of which is electrical wires. Whether it’s a power cable for a TV, computer, kitchen appliance or construction tool, it’s probably made of copper. Featuring the atomic number 29, this red-brown metal has become essential to our everyday life by helping power countless devices. But copper isn’t the only material that can transmit electricity, so why is it preferred for creating electrical wires?
Surpassed only by silver, copper is a highly conductive metal. This means electricity can pass through it with greater ease, making it ideal for use in electrical wires. Companies can use other conductive metals to create electrical wires. Unless they use silver, though, the high conductivity properties of copper allow for a greater distance of electrical current travel. Companies can create longer, better performing electrical wires using copper instead of most other conductive metals.
Copper is also relatively inexpensive when compared to other metals. Gold, for example, is an excellent conductor of electricity, but it costs several times more than copper. If companies used gold to manufacture electrical wires, they’d essentially waste money, as copper is more conductive and costs less than its goal counterpart. This alone is reason enough to make copper the de-facto standard for electrical wires.
Copper isn’t just conductive; it’s also ductile. In other words, you can bend and flex copper — to some degree — without it breaking or otherwise sustaining damage. Why is this important? Well, electrical wires must often travel through walls, floors, ceilings and other tight spaces. As a result, they’ll naturally bend and snake their way around the home or building in which they are used. The ductile properties of copper allow copper electrical wires to bend and flex. They’ll still transmit electricity, and they won’t lose any power strength from shape deformity.
A benefit of copper electrical wires that’s often overlooked is its thermal-resistant properties. According to ESFI, electrical fires are responsible for more than 51,000 residential house fires in the United States each year — and that’s not accounting for commercial/business fires. Copper electrical wires are safer to use than wires made of most other conductive metals because they are resistant to heat.
As you can see, copper is the preferred metal for electrical wires for several reasons. It has high electrical conductive; it’s inexpensive; it’s ductile; and it’s thermal resistant. This makes is the universally accepted standard for the manufacturing of electrical wires.