In our This vs. That series, we're comparing (and contrasting) two seemingly similar products. A lot of products seem the same at first glance but can greatly affect the outcome of your next application. Today, we're comparing the use of aluminum and copper conductors in XHHW wire.
What is XHHW Wire?
XHHW wire is a popular type of lead wire, commonly used in industrial, commercial, and residential buildings. Common applications include general-purpose wiring, power distribution, and branch circuit wiring in conduits and approved raceways as specified by the National Electric Code.
XHHW wire is also extremely useful in applications where flame retardant qualities are needed. It is also well-known for its water and high-temperature resistance. Most XHHW wires are very similar, but one thing to consider when choosing an XHHW wire is the conductor material - either copper or aluminum. Both types of XHHW wire have cross-linked polyethylene insulation, so their environmental uses are very similar. They also have similar voltage ratings of 110V to 600V, can withstand temperatures up to 90°C, and are available in sizes from 14 AWG and 1000 MCM. The main differences between the cables come down to the characteristics of the metals themselves.
Copper XHHW Wire
Copper is a heavy material, much heavier than aluminum. However, copper is a more effective conductor of electricity, so Copper XHHW wires tend to be more expensive.
Aluminum XHHW Wire
Aluminum XHHW cable is much lighter and less expensive than copper, but it is also less conductive. Both types of XHHW wires are extremely useful and versatile, but it is important to understand which material works best in your application. Aluminum cables are not necessarily approved where copper cables are, so take the time to be sure you are adhering to any standards and codes that are applicable to your application.
For more information, check out our large selection of XHHW cable.