Electrical Connectors: Is Copper a Good Pick?

Electrical connectors and wiring must be able to withstand enormous amounts of power at once; however, most metals cannot bend easily.

FREMONT, CA:Copper has been the preferred material for electrical connectors for about 200 years. It has become even more prevalent since the discovery of the electromagnet and telegraph in the early 1800s, especially after the introduction of the telephone in 1876. Telecommunications, power generation, distribution, and transmission all employ copper electrical connectors today.

The power source must overcome resistance for an electrical current to flow through metals. A metal's electrical conductivity increases as its resistance decreases, and copper wire is also an excellent electrical conductor due to its low resistance.

Copper is also a very adaptable material. Electrical connectors and wiring must be able to withstand enormous amounts of power at once; however, most metals cannot bend easily. On the other hand, copper has the perfect thickness for handling home electrical levels while remaining movable.

Finally, copper has a lower oxidation rate than other metals. When it comes to rust, you've probably heard about oxidation. It occurs when oxygen and moisture in the air react with the surface of a metal. This process causes the metal to corrode, resulting in a film-like covering. Copper does not rust but does develop a greenish patina known as copper oxide. This covering, unlike rust, protects the metal from corrosion while not interfering with conductivity.

What are the Best Copper Electrical Connectors Practices?

Electrical copper connectors have fewer safety concerns than aluminum connectors, yet electricity is still dangerous. So, if one is working on a wiring job, make sure to take the necessary safety precautions. When using copper electrical conductors, make careful to follow these guidelines:

  • Use a copper wire connector that is appropriate for the size and number of wires one is connecting.
  • Use only UL (Underwriters Laboratories)-approved electrical copper connectors.
  • Make sure the connector completely covers the wire ends. Covering exposed wiring with electrical tape is not a safe option.
  • It is likely that the ends of the wires will be damaged while rejoining them. To provide the safest connection possible, trim the ends and re-strip the insulation.