Copper Cable Lugs

Copper Cable Lugs

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Cable Lugs

A Brief History…

Cable lugs are connectors that are used to connect/terminate cables together, and they form an important part of an electrical system. Cable lugs are normally made from one of two metals – copper or aluminium or their respective alloys.

As far as functionality goes, they both serve similar purposes, but the differences are more to do with their specific characteristics and applications. Let’s take a look at why aluminium cable lugs used to be popular as well as why copper is now the preferred choice for cable lugs.

Copper Cable Lugs

The great thing about using copper for cable lugs is that it overcomes all the problems that are found in aluminium cable lugs. The key to improved safety with copper lugs has something to do with the “co-efficient of thermal expansion”. Without going into the technical details of the term, what you need to know is that a higher co-efficient indicates greater risk of fire, and copper has an extremely low co-efficient of thermal expansion.

Thanks to this, it does not create fire safety hazards, and copper-based wiring systems are now used around the world. There is of course a catch. Aluminium happens to be a much cheaper metal than copper, so copper cable lugs and wiring can cost quite a bit more than aluminium cable lugs. That is probably one of the main reasons why, back in the 1960s, manufacturers went with aluminium wiring before shifting to copper, and why aluminium cable lugs are sometimes used in wiring even today.

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Copper versus Aluminium Cable Lugs – Which Should You Pick?

At this point, we know about the main difference between aluminium and copper, as well as the main advantage and disadvantage of each. Aluminium is cheaper but causes problems, while copper is good but comparatively very expensive. The big question is – should you go with aluminium or copper cable lugs?

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t clear cut. The lure of the low cost of aluminium continues to drive electrical manufacturers to use aluminium wiring. Factor that along with aluminium-related innovations making them just as safe as copper lugs. It is now possible to find aluminium cable lugs that are coated with copper and then with a subsequent layer of tin. This impedes the rusting as well as formation of oxide on the surface.

It is true that in the early days, aluminium simply wasn’t the right choice for cable lugs, and since then, copper became the preferred choice for cable lugs. All things considered, however, it’s now much safer to use aluminium cable lugs as compared to the earlier days. Despite these improvements in aluminium wiring and electrical components, somehow the impression that copper cable lugs are better than aluminium hasn’t really gone away.


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