10 Fun Facts about Copper Wire

Oct 22, 2021

Electricians love using copper wire due to it’s high electrical conductivity rating. In fact, only silver has a higher conductivity among metals. Today, copper is used for windings in electric motors, generators, and electromagnets. It’s used in conductors for automobiles and appliances, while power cables, telephone wiring, household electronics, data transmission lines (including twisted pair cable wiring), and coaxial cables contain copper conductors.

Some facts about copper wire you may not know include:

1. Copper Is Extremely Resilient

Despite its softness, copper is extremely ductile and has a high tensile strength. It is resistant to corrosion, easily solderable, and has a low coefficient of thermal expansion. Excellent creep characteristics mean it won’t easily deform under stress.

2. Copper Has a High Melting Point

It doesn’t melt until the temperature reaches 1,981°. Copper has superior heat transfer properties and maintains its integrity under most conditions since it can tolerate such high temperatures.

3. Copper Is Available in Different Grades

Copper scrap comes in four different grades. Copper wire and cable represents the highest grade and is bare, uncoated, and unalloyed. For structural branch circuit wiring, # 12 (AWG) is the most common size. According to Copper.org, the amount of size 12 wire consumed annually in the USA is enough for 120 round trips to the moon.

4. Copper Must Be Extremely Pure

To be used in electrical applications, copper needs to be refined to at least 99.98% purity.

5. Copper Is Used Often in Wind Farms

Insulated copper cables deliver electricity generated from wind to a copper-wound transformer. Wind turbine towers are connected by underground copper cables that collect electricity and transfer it to a substation. In fact, some wind farms have over 300,000 feet of copper wire installed. 1

6. Copper Wire Is Efficient for Communications

Twisted pairs of copper wire can achieve data speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second, allowing fast communications in computing. Fiber optics are no longer the only choice for high-bandwidth applications. In fact, telephone companies can even leverage existing copper lines to deliver high-speed, low-cost communications and networking options.

7. A Lot of Copper Is Used in Building Construction

Nearly half of all copper used is in building construction. There are about 195 pounds of copper wire in the average single-family home and about 125 pounds of copper building wire in the average multifamily unit. Also, there are about 40 pounds of copper electrical components in the average U.S.-built automobile (some luxury cars now have around one mile’s worth of copper wires). Overall, electrical wire, telecommunication cables, and electronics account or three-quarters of the copper used in the U.S.

8. Heavily Prevalent in the Transportation Industry

There are about 632,000 feet of copper wire in a Boeing 747-200 plane, while more than five miles of wire is used for power and communications in the engines of diesel-electric locomotives. Even model railroad train motors and transformers are wound with copper wire.

9.Copper Wiring Is Used in Supercolliders

At the supercollider at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, 1,700 superconducting electromagnets contain about 50 tons of high-conductivity, oxygen-free copper wire. A particle accelerator in Batavia, Illinois has 1,000 electromagnets that also use 50 tons of copper wire.

10. Copper Nanowires Can Be Used to Create Conductive Paper or Aerogel

In 2014, researchers at Monash University in Australia created an aerogel monolith that contained copper nanowires. It’s believed this can create electrically conductive rubber, which can form medical sensors that can be embedded in the skin, or even soft-bodied robots.

CMC Electric Can Handle Your Wiring Needs

Copper wire is found throughout your home and in just about every electrical device you use. At CMC Electric, we can assist with phone wiring, data and ethernet wiring, A/V and home theater wiring, and much more. Our team is extremely experienced and safety conscious. We’re also committed to helping you save via our home protection plan, which includes discounts and an annual whole-house safety evaluation. To learn more about it and our other electrical services, call 919-679-9641 today!