The Facts About Copper-Clad Aluminum (CCA)
Like most industries, the wiring industry doesn’t change instantly. As new technologies come onto the scene they must prove their value over time before they become accepted. For a long time copper-clad aluminum cable (CCA) has been met with skepticism by many professionals. However new evidence is proving that CCA has definite benefits over pure copper in certain applications.
A Closer Look at Solid Copper
For well over a century solid copper has been the standard for many different wiring applications. Methods of insulating cables and connectors have both changed and advanced over the years, but the use of copper conductors hasn’t changed since the first electric wiring systems were used back in the 1800s. That’s because copper is naturally highly conductive and has low resistance. But it comes at a price, literally. Copper is among the most widely used metals today, and it’s the only one used commonly as a conductor. That kind of demand gives copper a very expensive price tag. Copper can cost as much as three or four times that of aluminum.
All the Advantages of Copper for Less
While Copper-clad aluminum isn't always the best solution, when installing communication cables CCA allows cables to utilize all of the benefits that copper has to offer, while maintaining a much more affordable price tag and helping to protect the world’s limited supply of copper. CCA is made by bonding a layer of pure copper onto an aluminum core. While drawn our CCA obviously contains less copper than pure copper cable, it delivers virtually the same conductivity with only slightly higher resistance. How is this possible? It has to do with an electrical phenomenon known as “skin effect.”
Skin effect is the tendency of an alternating current at high frequencies (the current used in Cat5e and Cat6 cables for data transfer) to become distributed in a conductor so that there is more current density near the surface (or skin) of the conductor. This density decreases as you go deeper into the conductor. Because skin effect only happens at high frequencies, it's better to use pure copper cable in all low frequency applications, such as your home power cables.
Because of skin effect, you can use a less expensive metal for the core and use copper on the outer layer to achieve the virtually the same conductivity. Good quality CCA is all about finding a balance. Too much copper is a waste of materials, yet too little copper decreases the cable's effeciency and quality. Unfortunately, many cable manufacturers try and cut corners by using as little copper as possible. Most CCA cable uses only 10 to 15% copper by weight. That means that only about 60-65% of the current is going through copper in these cables. Our CCA cat6 and cat5e cables use 24% copper by weight (close to twice the amount of copper), giving you guaranteed performance without having to pay outrageous prices.
Finding the Balance
Our society is all about progress. Good ideas and solutions continue to be replaced by better ones, especially when dealing with multiple factors and variables. In our competitive and fast moving environment, you need to strike a balance between performance, cost, and time. With high performance and reliability combined with reduced installation cost and time, Sewell's high quality CCA with more copper can help you find that balance..
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