Which electrical connectors to choose - copper or aluminium?
Choosing the right connector components is crucial to ensure effective flow of current in various devices. Copper and aluminium connectors are the two most popular materials used as connector components. In this article, we will discuss what connectors are, what their functions are, and highlight the differences between copper and aluminum connectors, and suggest which one is more efficient in conducting current.
What is a electrical connector?
Connectors, also known as cable terminations, are components used to connect specific cables and wires, such as for grounding metal elements in machinery and equipment or for connecting control components. Copper, aluminium, nickel, bronze, steel, and brass connectors can be found on the market. Additionally, connectors with thermal and electrical insulation are also available. However, copper and aluminum are most commonly used for these types of components because both metals have excellent conductivity properties. Each of these metals has slightly different characteristics, so the type of material used is important.
Copper connectors - what to look for when choosing them?
Copper has become well-established in industry due to its excellent properties - it is one of the best electrical conductors. It has very low electrical resistance, which enables smooth flow of current. Copper connectors are also easy to solder.
What other advantages do copper connectors have and what sets them apart from others?
Copper connectors offer many benefits to industry. These include:
- High conductivity
- Thermal conductivity
- Ease of production
- And recyclability.
Due to their plasticity, copper connectors effectively adhere to the second connector, ensuring a secure, consistent connection. This is an invaluable advantage because it ensures that the flow of current is uninterrupted, even in the most demanding applications. Thermal conductivity helps to quickly and effectively dissipate heat, reducing the risk of overheating and improving the reliability of the connection. It is worth noting that copper connectors can be joined to wiring by crimping with special presses or by soldering.
Copper connectors – when and how are they used?
Copper connectors are particularly popular in applications where fast and reliable data transmission is required, such as in computer networks, telephony, or industrial camera systems. They are also used in:
- High-power electrical installations – in the case of industrial applications, copper connectors ensure proper current transmission even for cables with large cross-sections and high-power installations. They are mainly used in relays and switches, cable connections, and many other applications.
- Automotive industry and battery systems – copper connectors provide the best cost-to-quality ratio for current conduction, which is why they are widely used in the automotive and e-mobility industries as an effective connection between the electrical installation and onboard batteries.
- Chemical industry: copper connectors are used to connect pipelines and cables.
However, copper connectors are by far the most expensive type of product of this kind, due to the price of the raw material they are made of. Therefore, many manufacturers, in order to save costs, limit the use of copper in the core of the connector, covering only its outer surface with it.
Aluminum connectors are exceptionally lightweight and durable, which is why they are used in industries where weight is critical, such as the aviation and automotive industries. They are also more resistant to corrosion than other metals, making them an ideal solution for outdoor applications, where there are difficult weather conditions. Additionally, aluminum connectors are easy to process and can be easily machined. However, if they are not properly designed or made, they can easily be damaged or lose their electrical properties. Aluminum connectors are also more susceptible to electrolytic corrosion, which can lead to a decrease in connection strength. It is also worth noting that, compared to copper connectors, they are unfortunately less conductive and have less mechanical strength.
It is also worth mentioning insulated connectors. This type of component consists of two parts: an insulator and a wire. The insulation serves as an extension of the wire and protects against possible damage. Insulated connectors come in various terminations, such as eyelet (closed) or needle, flat or fork (open) – as so-called male plugs. It is important to choose the appropriate type of connector for a particular solution.
What is better - copper or aluminum connectors?
When choosing between copper and aluminum connectors, several factors should be taken into account. Firstly, if we need a connector for high-current applications, copper connectors are more efficient because copper provides better conductivity than aluminum. However, if we value low weight or lower costs, aluminum connectors will be a better choice.
Another important factor to consider when choosing connectors is the environment in which they will be used. Copper is a better conductor of energy than aluminum, which means that copper connectors will be a better choice in applications where a large amount of current needs to be transmitted. On the other hand, aluminum connectors are lighter and cheaper.
Innovative copper solutions and products available at Electris
At Electris, we know the advantages and characteristics of copper practically inside out. As a result, we offer our customers high-quality solutions that work well in almost every industry and sector.
Our product range includes dedicated copper connectors, resistant to the highest temperatures and excellent in conducting current. We also manufacture aluminum connectors, pins, and connectors. Our product range also includes bus bars, laminated components, and radiators. Our products meet the requirements of even the most demanding customers.