Facts about copper wire

Written by mike parker
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Facts about copper wire
Copper is used in plumbing, heating and electrical circuits. (spools with a wire image by Victor M. from Fotolia.com)

Copper is a common element that is frequently used in electrical and plumbing applications. It was one of the first metals to be used by man for making tools. During the Bronze age, copper was mixed with iron to fashion implements of bronze. Since the Industrial Revolution, one of the most popular uses of copper in its pure form has been in the manufacture of copper wire.


According to the Copper Development Association, a typical automobile that is built in the United States includes approximately 22.7 Kilogram of copper. Each car contain approximately 1,500 copper wires which, if laid end to end, would stretch nearly 1 mile.


Twisted pairs of copper wire have been used since the early 20th century for telephone and telegraph communications purposes. Since the beginning of the 21st century, advances in Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) and High-Speed Digital Subscriber Line (HDSL) technologies have created newer and faster ways to transmit computer data over existing twisted pairs of copper telephone lines, according to the Copper Development Association.


Copper conducts electricity better than any other metal except silver, according to the Copper Development Association. Copper used for electrical wire is typically refined to at least 99.98 per cent purity. Twelve gauge, or number 12 copper wire, is the most common size used for circuit wiring in homes and buildings in the United States. The Copper Development Association notes that increasing the size to the more expensive 10 gauge could result in dramatically lower energy costs due to increased efficiency.


The building construction industry uses approximately 40 per cent of the copper in the United States, with residential construction accounting from around two-thirds of the market. There are approximately 88.5 Kilogram of copper electrical wire in the average new home constructed in 2010. This does not include the amount of copper wiring that goes into home appliances, plumbing and air-conditioning systems.


Copper wiring is a commonly recycled metal. According to Action Recycling, the price paid for scrap copper wire depends upon its condition, which determines the amount of recoverable copper. The U.S.Geological Survey notes that recycled copper from all sources accounts for nearly one-third of the copper supply in the United States.

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