Busbar Manufacturers Discuss Differences in Aluminum Busbar vs Copper & Common Misconceptions
The evolution of busbar over the past 50 years has allowed its use to surpass that of hard-wired power distribution. Over time the demand for aluminum busbar vs copper has fallen significantly, particularly in industrial applications. However, with recent innovations in value-add busbar services, as well as supplemental alloy combinations over purity, we’ve seen a noticeable shift – with demand moving back toward aluminum busbar.
Despite the prevalence of copper and aluminum busbar in their respective applications, there are still many misconceptions regarding the preconceived lack of value of aluminum. There are various arguments as to why copper busbar may be better than aluminum busbar; however, the truth is that either material will meet the required demands when properly installed and when designed to industry and environment standards.
Below, the EMS Industrial busbar manufacturers address the most common differences between aluminum busbar vs copper, as well as the misconceptions surrounding aluminum busbar.
Some argue that aluminum busbar cannot withstand electromechanical stress as well as copper busbar. In reality, quality aluminum has plenty of tensile strength to withstand thermal expansion strain.
Depending on the alloying agents employed, the strength of aluminum itself can range from dead soft to mild steel.
Contingent on busbar size, aluminum busbar can handle currents up to 4000A, which is more than sufficient for many applications.
Aluminum busbar conductivity is dependent on the alloy and temper. Pure aluminum conductivity is approximately 65.0% of IACS (International Annealed Copper Standard). In fact, when comparing aluminum busbar vs copper, aluminum busbar is twice as conductive as copper.
Aluminum busbar conductivity can be reduced depending on its alloying agents. There are several alloying agents in aluminum busbar that affect its conductivity in varying ways…
Minor Reduction: Nickel, Iron, Zinc
Greater Reduction: Copper, Magnesium, Silicon, Vanadium
Greatest Reduction: Titanium, Chromium, Manganese
Busbar plating like tin and silver, on the other hand, can enhance conductivity.
High quality, high strength aluminum can have mechanical resistance up to 530 Newton/mm2. Aluminum is fatigue resistant and corrosion resistant. Aluminum also offers easy corrosion removal with simple stripping.
Aluminum can be as much as 70% lighter than copper. The lightweight properties make aluminum busbar installation so fast and easy that a single operator can do it. Aluminum busbar weight properties not only allow for ease and convenience, but cost-savings as well.
Aluminum busbar cost can be drastically lower than that of copper busbar. Its lightweight properties can provide significant cost-savings in handling costs alone. Aluminum also offers high recyclability, which makes it far less likely to experience market fluctuations or supply scarcity.
When comparing aluminum busbar vs copper, it’s important to remember that aluminum busbar may provide a better, more cost-effective solution depending on application requirements.
Contact EMS Industrial today for assistance in selecting the right busbar material for your application demands.