Why are aluminum wires used for transmission cables?
Copper strip is one of the oldest known minerals. Its ductility and conductivity were utilized by the first experimenters with electricity, such as Ben Franklin and Michael Faraday. Copper was the conductor utilized in inventions such as the telegraph, the telephone, and electric motor.
Despite the fact that copper has a long history as the material of preference for conducting electricity, aluminum has some advantages that make it attractive for specific purposes.
Aluminum provides better conductivity than copper but has only 30 % of the weight of copper. That means that a bare wire of aluminum weighs half as much as a bare cable of copper that has the same electrical resistance. Aluminum is usually more inexpensive when compared to copper conductors.
Aluminum is lighter than copper and almost as good a conductor. The weight is vital because the transmission wire stretches between poles, and we want fewer poles. As such, the actual transmission cables utilized are named ACSR cable, which means Aluminium Cable Steel Reinforced. The wire is built from a center steel wire for strength and wrapped around it are various Aluminium wires. The steel permits to place the supporting poles further apart.
Copper is a better conductor by volume and consequently, cross-section, but aluminum is a better conductor by weight. Therefore, and because it is cheaper, aluminum is used for high tension lines. But for home applications, where a small conductor is desirable, copper is a better option. Additionally, copper can be soldered, which is an absolute connection. Aluminum can not be soldered by ordinary means, so the junctions are not absolute, and it can, because of oxidation, develop high resistance in the joints, especially where condensation might occur. This can cause a fire. So copper is also safer.
Aluminum building wiring
Aluminum building wiring is a kind of electrical wiring for domestic construction or houses that uses aluminum electrical conductors. Aluminum has a better conductivity to weight proportion when compared to copper, and it is also employed for wiring power grids, which includes overhead power transmission lines and local power distribution lines, as well as for power wiring in some airplanes. Utility companies have employed aluminum wire for electrical transmission in power grids since around the late 1800s to the early 1900s. It also has a cost and weight advantages over copper wires. Aluminum wire in power transmission and distribution uses is still the chosen material nowadays.
Aluminum cables were employed for entire wiring homes for a short time from the 1960s to the mid-1970s due to a period of high copper prices in the American residential construction industry. Electrical devices at the time were not produced with the specific attributes of the aluminum cable being utilized in mind, and there were some problems associated with the properties of the cable itself, making the installations with aluminum wire much more susceptible to problems. Revised manufacturing standards for both the cable and the devices were developed to reduce the problems. Existing homes with this older aluminum wiring employed in branch circuits represent a possible fire risk.
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