02 Jan Understanding Aluminium Wiring And Potential Problems
Although copper continues to be the prime choice for many electricians and technicians, aluminium has also got its share of advantages and pros. In fact, some will argue that Aluminium is the better option if only you take time to insulate it properly and conduct regular inspections. Most residential homes and commercial premises have used copper for all their wiring needs; however, this trend is expected to change as the prices of copper continue to shoot high. Just like any other mineral, mining of copper is subject to market fluctuations that trickle down to the ordinary end user. Aluminium is light, less expensive, and equally good at conductivity. If you are looking to try aluminium for your home or commercial wiring, here we have compiled some important points that you ought to take note of.
Why is aluminium not so commonly used in wiring?
This is a good question. If aluminium is lightweight and a good conductor, why is it not as favoured as copper? The simple answer is that aluminium is notoriously corrosive; it gets corroded faster and easily. Exposure to water and other metals will quickly corrode aluminium. The more it gets corroded, the higher the risk of hazards like electrical fires. For this reason, most electricians have opted for the more stable copper. But this is becoming so expensive especially for large-scale electrical wiring projects. Thus, the trick to using aluminium lies in two things; using proper insulation, and frequent inspections!
Here are some advantages of using aluminium wiring;
- Low cost; aluminium is less expensive compared to copper, so much so that copper is almost double the price of aluminium. When you think if of a large commercial installation that may consume rolls and rolls of wires, the difference in cost can make a huge difference.
- Very pliable; aluminium is easy to work with, in that although it’s not as flexible as copper, it is easy to install especially in difficult locations. The same applies to cutting it into pieces; aluminium can be cut even using bare ands.
- Light; in most industrial settings, the weight of the wiring used is always an issue and as such, aluminium comes in handy during such. Copper is much heavier than aluminium.
Disadvantages of Aluminium;
- Risk of fire; one of the greatest risks posed by aluminium is the risk of a fire outbreak. When aluminium wires are damaged by water they get corroded and with this corrosion the risk of a fire is doubled.
- Higher insurance costs; it is not uncommon to find insurance companies declining to pay houses that have aluminium wiring. And when they do so, they are likely to ask for higher premiums.
- Specialized attention; when buying most electrical wiring accessories like screws and lugs, one must always double check to ensure that they are compatible with aluminium. This means that when doing repairs and new installations; you have to get someone who has expertise in aluminium wiring.
- Durability; lastly, aluminium is not as durable as copper and it has to be replaced every so often because it’s prone to damages and corrosions.
This is not to say however that Aluminium is all bad. All that you need to do is to ensure that you have a licensed electrician with you. Once the electrician has done the wiring design correctly and installed the wiring, you can reap the benefits of saved costs and uninterrupted power flow. Also, make sure you straighten things out with your insurance company. Regular inspections are also important as they help in pointing out areas that need replacement or refitting.