Tech Peak » Electrical Wires in the Home: Copper vs. Aluminum

Electrical Wires in the Home: Copper vs. Aluminum

by Tech Peak

When it comes to wiring in a home, it is important to consider the type of material used for electrical wires. Different materials are better suited for different conditions and projects and can affect the safety of your home’s wiring. See this site for more information on mapping your home’s circuit.

Copper is one of the most common materials used for electrical wires in homes and businesses. Copper has excellent conductivity that makes it ideal for high current and long-distance runs. It is also highly durable, with some copper wire lasting up to 40 years or longer with proper maintenance. Additionally, copper is nonmagnetic which eliminates interference from nearby power lines or appliances. The one downside to copper is that it can be costly compared to other materials.

Aluminum wire is an affordable alternative to copper wire that is light and easy to work with. Aluminum has good conductivity and can be used for high current applications. However, it does require special connectors as it cannot be connected directly to a receptacle or switch like copper wire can. Additionally, aluminum can corrode over time due to oxidation and create dangerous electrical arcs which can result in fire hazards.


Plastic insulated wires are becoming more popular for home wiring projects due to their affordability, ease of installation, and durability. Plastic-coated wiring is made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyethylene (PE) insulation that encases metal or aluminum conductors inside the plastic coating. PVC is most often used in residential wiring applications while PE is typically used in industrial applications. Plastic insulated wires are UV and flame resistant, making them a safe option for both indoor and outdoor wiring projects.

When selecting the type of material for your wiring project, it is important to consider the application and environment in which it will be used. Copper or aluminum wire may be better suited for high current applications while plastic-insulated wire can provide safety benefits and affordability. It is important to consult with an electrician prior to starting any home wiring projects as they will have the experience and expertise needed to ensure the job is done safely.

Other Considerations

There are a few other considerations that should be taken account to ensure safety and proper installation. Wire Gauge is a measure of the thickness of a wire and can range from 0 (thinnest) to 40 (thickest). The gauge of the wire used in your home will depend on the amount of current being drawn through it. For example, if you were wiring an outlet with two outlets, then you would need at least 12-gauge wire as this can support up to 20A of power. On the other hand, a single light switch would require 14-gauge wire as it needs only 15A of power. A power tracer can help you map your electrical needs.

Grounding is another important factor when choosing electrical wires for your home. Grounding is important for preventing overloads, short circuits, and electrocution by providing an alternate path for electricity in case of an electrical fault. In order for a circuit to be grounded properly, both ends must have access to metal or copper grounding wires connected directly back to the main panel box or ground rod in your yard.

Although not required by code in all areas, GFCI outlets are becoming increasingly popular due to their safety features. GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter and help prevent electrocution by detecting any changes in current flow through the circuit and quickly shutting off power if necessary. GFCI outlets are most commonly found in bathrooms and kitchens where water is present but having them installed throughout your home can provide additional protection against electric shock hazards.

When selecting electrical wires for your home, it’s important to choose one that meets or exceeds local building codes and requirements as these may vary depending on where you live. Consulting with an experienced electrician prior to beginning any wiring project can help ensure that all safety regulations are met so you can rest assured knowing that your wiring system is up to code and safe. As well, choosing the right tools, such as a complete circuit mapper kit, can take you a really long way.

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