Understanding the need for aluminium cabling in the electrical industry and advancements being made
Blog by Mr. Ojas Kulkarni,
Product Manager - Terminal Blocks
When you think about cables, copper is the material that first comes to your mind. RIght from the early 1900s the fantastic electrical properties of copper were acknowledged and copper cables were used for Power transmission due its advantages such as lower resistivity, lower coefficient of thermal expansion, Corrosion and creep resistance, ease of soldering etc.
However with advances being made and commodity prices reaching all time high levels in the past decades, there has been substantial interest and advancement in use and manufacturing of aluminium cables. Aluminium cables have an advantage of copper cables in terms of their better conductivity to weight ratio and their cost.
What do the standards say about using aluminium cables?
As per international standards Aluminum cable can be used for wire sizes 10 sq mm and above with various insulations such as PVC, XLPE HDPE etc. Though aluminum cables are more economical choice they lack the conductivity of copper hence for the same amount of load current approximately 1-2 size higher cross section aluminium cable had to be specified.
Since most of the control panel wiring is done by using 1.5 to 6 sq mm wires aluminium cables are not used for internal wirings of the control panels however the power input in the panel can be provided by multicore aluminum cables with cross section of 10sq mm and above.
This being said, it is uncommon for aluminium cables to be used in secondary distribution applications. The primary application of aluminium cables remains in power generation and power distribution where there is a substantial gain in terms of cost and reduction in weight.
Risks with Aluminium Cabling
Aluminum cables are also susceptible for corrosion due to exposure to moisture from air. Moisture from air reacts with the exposed conductor at the termination forming a non-conductive aluminium oxide. Since such aluminium oxides reduce the conductor contact area available for termination it increases the possibility of local hotspots formation. These hotspots reduce the life of the conductor and cause the overheating of the insulation. This causes premature failure of the cable.
Hence as a part of standard to use Aluminium cables it is always advised to use Antioxidant Paste while terminating the aluminum cables in order to avoid the metal oxidation and subsequent failures.
In addition extra care is to be taken when terminating aluminium cables in terms of their contact with copper conducting components as these are dissimilar cables and can cause ‘galvanic corrosion’.
Aluminium Alloy Cables
As metallurgical technology improves, it is now possible to get the excellent weight to conduction ratio of Aluminium while improving its corrosion resistance and expansion coefficient. Specific alloy grades of aluminium like magnesium aluminium alloys bring in excellent corrosion resistance while coating aluminium alloy cables with copper also improves its surface conductivity. With further research the use of aluminium cables is being extended even into other domains where either there is extreme cost sensitivity or sensitivity to the weight of the cables.
Connectwell Products and Aluminium Cables
Connectwell terminal blocks have multiple connection technology terminal blocks to terminate Aluminium power cables. Connectwell offers 10 sq mm and higher power cable termination solutions with screw clamp, Spring clamp , push in and stud and bolt technology. We design our terminal blocks with carefully selected raw materials which will allow termination of bare aluminium conductor without exposing it to galvanic corrosion. However in the case of stud and bolt terminal blocks where a ring lug is mandatory for termination of cable we recommend using a bimetallic lug to avoid the galvanic corrosion.
Please note extra care needs to be taken in termination and maintenance of aluminium cabling to avoid accidents.
Below Feed Through Connection Products are Available from Connectwell for Power Wiring.
Connectwell, your right connection partner
With more than 15 international product certifications backed by the most stringent quality standards, our products pass through more than 40 quality assurance tests. This has ensured a ready acceptance of Connectwell terminal blocks across 80+ countries and in thousands of projects and applications worldwide.
Through our 4 decades of experience with state-of-the-art operations which are ISO certified, Connectwell has grown to become one of the leading manufacturers of terminal blocks in the world.
More than 1 million connections are made every day across the globe with Connectwell terminal blocks, making Connectwell a synonym for… the right connection.
So, if you would like to build your projects with a solution that can accommodate both dense and simple wiring, while saving panel space, ensure that you select Connectwell Multiple Level Terminal Blocks and get the added flexibility you need.
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