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Copper vs. Aluminum cables: what you need to know

One of the application scenarios is overhead power transmission, which is used to transfer electrical power from one point to another, cable play an important role overhead power transmission.

You probably know that aluminum is the most popular metal for cable, but copper is also used. You may also realize that copper is more current carrying capacity than aluminum electrical conductor.

So it’s natural to wonder, “If copper has better heat electricity conductivity, why is aluminum so much more common?”

Let’s look at a few different factors that come into play here.

Copper vs. Aluminum cables: Let’s Compare

Take a look at the following tables. In them, you can see the three main factors that might influence the decision to use aluminum over copper for cables conductors.

Aluminum vs. Copper: Electricity Conductivity

As you can see in this table, copper is more conductive than aluminum. In fact, aluminum only has 60% of the thermal conductivity that copper does. That’s one point for copper.
Metal Thermal Conductivity
Aluminum 136
Copper 231

Aluminum vs. Copper: Weight

If you look at the density of the two metals, you’ll notice that aluminum has only about 30% of the density of copper. That means significant weight savings. One point for aluminum!
Metal Density (kg/m3)
Aluminum 2712
Copper 8940

Aluminum vs. Copper: Cost

Take a look at this third table and you’ll see that aluminum is much cheaper than copper. In fact, it comes in at about one-third the cost. That is a significant cost savings. One more point for aluminum.
Metal Price in USD per Metric Ton (05 August, 2023)
Aluminum $2,239.00 
Copper $8,549.00 
(Source: London Metals Exchange)

Aluminum is popular for a reason, but copper has its place

As you can see, cost and weight savings are key factors in the popularity of aluminum for cables. Copper cables are available on the market. 
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