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What's Up With Copper Wire These Days ????

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  • What's Up With Copper Wire These Days ????

    I had to do a small electrical job at a friends house a few days ago. He bought a small roll of 12 ga romex.
    I just couldn't believe how stiff this stuff was. I could hardly bend the loop to go around the screw with my needle nose pliers.
    This stuff was like steel. This isn't the first time I've noticed this. Then trying to push remainder back into the box and screw down the receptacle was a fight to the end.
    I've noticed this with other types of wire as well, smaller ga. stuff like plenum wire even stranded stuff is really stiff.
    The mfgs. must be cutting back on copper, I'm guessing it now about 10% or less.
    I have a few rolls of romex that's over twenty years old and it's way softer and easier to work with than this new stuff.

    JL..............

  • #2
    Copper wire is copper wire, there is no percentage involved.

    Are you sure it was copper? Try it with a magnet. There have been reports of copper plated counterfeit wire being sold. That would be guaranteed to overheat in use. With solid wire I'd think that unlikely, but.......

    It may be that the annealing step is being left out, since it involves re-heating the wire..... more energy cost.
    1601

    Keep eye on ball.
    Hashim Khan

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    • #3
      It's true we had a big roll of 33kv SWA cable in work, they sent me a peice to look at, it was electroplated steel stranded, looking at it you couldent tell, it was correctly stamped up and all the rest.
      Dangerous
      Mark

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      • #4
        I think Evan posted a few years ago about getting some copper plated steel wire. Sounds kind of familiar.

        Brian
        OPEN EYES, OPEN EARS, OPEN MIND

        THINK HARDER

        BETTER TO HAVE TOOLS YOU DON'T NEED THAN TO NEED TOOLS YOU DON'T HAVE

        MY NAME IS BRIAN AND I AM A TOOLOHOLIC

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        • #5
          Copper work hardens easily. Die drawing usually makes it harder than an ex-wife's heart. They're supposed to anneal it afterwards, but corners get cut.

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          • #6
            Romex (that's a brand... not a product) is just plain old copper wire. Yup.. 12awg is stiff. The stiffness is simply the work hardening in the drawing process. Heat a piece with propane - it will become soft as butter. Won't help you, but it will rest your mind that it is copper!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Blue Mule View Post
              Copper work hardens easily. Die drawing usually makes it harder than an ex-wife's heart. They're supposed to anneal it afterwards, but corners get cut.
              I believe it was some no name cheap stuff from HD.

              JL...............

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              • #8
                Definitely take a magnet to it. Copper is non-magnetic to at least the same degree that water is. Even using a 'super magnet', there should be no discernable attraction to copper. As stated, if there is an iron or steel core there will be resistance, voltage drop, and power loss- potentially to the point of overheating and fire, etc. There is no way that a wire called speaker wire, drop cord, lamp cord, romex, nmd, house wiring, bell wire- I don't remember all the names- should include anything but copper in the actual wire itself. The exception might be antenna wire, where physical strength could be the most important factor. Anything meant for power should have proper conductor material. There might be a steel core for strength, but none of that core should be included in the equation for wire size for current carrying capability.

                At one point I decided to test some dollar store wire offerings. To this day I carry a magnet on my keychain. I found more than one instance where supposedly copper wire was magnetic. The advertising said 'speaker wire', and nowhere on the package did it say copper. There was also wire advertised as lamp cord, which was also magnetic. Last thing I want to see is lamp cord getting hot running a single 100 watt light bulb. To me this 'copper wire' is fake, and dangerously so.

                I won't buy any wire that I expect to be copper without doing the magnet test first. I believe I'm right to expect house wiring to be copper and nothing else. If it doesn't pass the magnet test, it becomes an obligation to me to expose the falseness of the product. I feel very strongly about this- it's dangerous and it's a deliberate deception by a manufacturer.

                Maybe what you're seeing is wire that has been alloyed and is stiffer than copper would normally be. Perhaps the alloy is non-magnetic, which now makes it difficult to detect as fake- you'd have to do a resistance test using the length and gauge of wire to determine whether it's legitimate copper or not. It wouldn't surprise me if a significant amount of zinc makes it into the melt, along with steel or iron and who knows what other 'impurities'. I've already seen the fake crap on the market-
                I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

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                • #9
                  Just check the listing or labeling... printed or embossed right on the sheath. I've never seen "fake" copper wire sold as real power wiring, and I've seen a lot of wire in my time.

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                  • #10
                    Stranded copper wire bends more easily than solid copper wire. FWIW.
                    Definition: Boat, a hole in the water you throw money into!

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                    • #11
                      Here's that thread: http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net/thr...jor-SCAM-alert!
                      Any products mentioned in my posts have been endorsed by their manufacturer.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by lakeside53 View Post
                        Just check the listing or labeling... printed or embossed right on the sheath. I've never seen "fake" copper wire sold as real power wiring, and I've seen a lot of wire in my time.
                        Ahem.

                        Originally posted by boslab View Post
                        It's true we had a big roll of 33kv SWA cable in work, they sent me a peice to look at, it was electroplated steel stranded, looking at it you couldent tell, it was correctly stamped up and all the rest.
                        Dangerous
                        Mark
                        From a country that put melamine into baby formula, I highly doubt copper coated steel being sold as house wiring is beneath them.
                        Play Brutal Nature, Black Moons free to play highly realistic voxel sandbox game.

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                        • #13
                          I don't think stranded wire is allowed for electrical wiring, at least not for the usual 15-20 amp #14-#12 applications for standard switches and receptacles. The screw connectors and quick-connect spring contacts are probably not designed for stranded.

                          Here are articles on the annealing process, as well as information on copper with oxygen content that can change its electrical and mechanical properties. Maybe an induction heater could be used to anneal the wire, but the annealing temperature is 700-800 degrees C which is far above the melting point of the insulation. But it might be possible to strip back the insulation and anneal the bare wire, although then you would have to put insulation back on it. Maybe heat shrink?

                          http://www.copper.org/publications/n...etallurgy.html

                          http://www.inlandbonsai.com/articles/copper/copper.pdf
                          http://pauleschoen.com/pix/PM08_P76_P54.png

                          Paul: www.peschoen.com
                          P S Technology, Inc. www.pstech-inc.com
                          and Muttley www.muttleydog.com

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                          • #14
                            The only 'legitimate' use of copper plated wire that I know of is in network cabling, where CCA (copper coated aluminium) is often substituted for the much better solid copper. It's cheaper - always good to check for if you're buying CAT5 cable and are expecting solid copper...

                            Ian
                            All of the gear, no idea...

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by PStechPaul View Post
                              I don't think stranded wire is allowed for electrical wiring, at least not for the usual 15-20 amp #14-#12 applications for standard switches and receptacles. The screw connectors and quick-connect spring contacts are probably not designed for stranded.

                              Here are articles on the annealing process, as well as information on copper with oxygen content that can change its electrical and mechanical properties. Maybe an induction heater could be used to anneal the wire, but the annealing temperature is 700-800 degrees C which is far above the melting point of the insulation. But it might be possible to strip back the insulation and anneal the bare wire, although then you would have to put insulation back on it. Maybe heat shrink?

                              http://www.copper.org/publications/n...etallurgy.html

                              http://www.inlandbonsai.com/articles/copper/copper.pdf
                              I don't think you know what you're talking about. Are you a licensed Electrician, Apprentice or Journeyman working under a licensed Electrician?

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