Copper clad vs. solid copper cables – which is better suited for your needs? You may already have some familiarity with these two types of cables, but it’s always good to brush up on the basics to help determine which one to use for your next application. After all, not all cables are the same and making the correct choice between the two is crucial for both saving costs and maintaining data integrity. We’ve broken things down here to help you with your next selection.
Copper Clad Cables: What You Need to Know
Copper clad cables are available in two different varieties: aluminum (CCA, or copper clad aluminum) and steel (CCS, or copper clad steel). This means the conductor is made of either aluminum or steel, and there’s a coating of copper wrapped around it.
Compared to solid conductors, copper clad cables are typically much lighter. That’s one of their key benefits. Another key benefit of copper clad cables is cost savings. Because the cable is coated in copper as opposed to being solid copper, they are typically less expensive than their counterpart.
However, due to the copper coating, these cables are generally better for short distances and sending lesser amounts of data. If the distances become longer, there could be issues with signal integrity. This could mean the signal may need to be sent multiple times to reach the end point.
As we noted, copper clad cables come in aluminum and steel varieties. Though their performance is similar over short distances, steel tends to be the more durable option. This is especially useful in outdoor use applications.
Copper clad cables are an ideal, cost-effective means for transmitting signals over short distances. However, the longer the distance, the more likely signal loss will occur.
Solid Copper Cables: What You Need to Know
Durability and flexibility. Those are the two big benefits of using solid copper cables. The cable easily bends back and forth, and it’s easy to form and shape. Above all, it performs very well as a conductor.
Solid copper cables are ideal for transmitting signals over long distances. In fact, they excel in transmitting high levels of data over these distances – and minimal current is necessary to push signals all the way through. They’re ideal for more permanent applications, such as inside wall cavities, and other applications where the cable isn’t likely to be changed out.
Solid copper cables are durable, flexible and the ideal solution for transmitting high levels of data over long distances.
Choosing the Right Cable
There are many factors that you should weigh to determine whether copper clad or solid copper cables is the best fit. These include cost, distance, weight, durability and data load. Here’s a closer look at each of these factors as they pertain to selecting cable:
- Cost: Solid copper tends to be more expensive than the more affordable aluminum and steel copper clad cables.
- Distance: Copper clad cables are only suggested for transmitting signals over short distances, usually in the 6 to 10-foot range. Solid copper cables are the preferred cable type for transmitting data over longer distances.
- Weight: Copper clad, specifically aluminum, is a lightweight cable type.
- Durability: Steel is the more durable copper clad option, however solid copper is very durable as well. Conversely, copper clad aluminum isn’t as strong. Another nice thing about solid copper is that it performs well in more high temperature conditions.
- Data: Solid copper is the ideal solution for transmitting high levels of data. For lesser amounts of data, copper clad is typically the better option – even for longer cables. It’s important to ask the question of how much data is being put through compared to the length of the cable needed.
Industries and Use Cases
One of the things that’s important to remember when it comes to cables is that they’re not a one-size-fits-all proposition. In fact, educating our partners is important to ensure they receive the right cable that works best for their application.
Many of our partners don’t even realize there are different types of copper cables. This was the case recently when a partner of ours was looking for a 150 foot cable and had their eyes on copper clad due to the cost.
Because of the length of the cable, solid copper was the better choice on paper. However, after discussing with our team about a number of different variables, our partner wound up going with copper clad because very little data was being sent via the cable and it was the best choice based on the application and their budget.
To recap, solid copper is usually preferred for longer cables. It also has a better bend radius and keeps signal strength over distance better.
CCA and CCS tend to be more brittle and not ideal for bends, twists and turns. However, they’re inexpensive. It’s part of why they’re best suited for short lengths.
Contact Us Today
Like we said, not all cables are created equal. It’s why it’s important to work with and educate the customer to ensure data transfer and signal strength needs are properly met. For more information on the key differences between copper clad and solid copper cables, contact us today.