7 Questions About Tinned Copper Wire Vs. Bare Copper Wire?


As you know, bare copper conductors can be coated with tin to prevent corrosion. Read this blog to learn the difference between bare copper and tinned copper, and when it is best to use the latter.

What Is The Purpose Of Bare Copper?

Bare copper wire is a single strand of copper wire with no additional coating. This wire consists of 99.99% pure copper and can be used as a single wire for grounding conductors, connecting wires, and jumpers. 

Bare copper is also used in multi-stranded solid and stranded copper conductors. Depending on its properties, it can be hard, medium-hard, or soft annealed. Bare copper is extracted from pure copper rods and has a recognizable orange-red color. Bare copper has credible corrosion and temperature resistance properties, but they can be amplified by using tinned copper.

What Does Tinned Copper Wire Or Conductor Mean? 

Tinned copper is copper covered with tin (another name for solder) to preserve the quality of the metal and extend its life when exposed to harmful environments. Tin acts as an additional protective layer against the adverse effects of corrosion, oxidation, and high temperatures. 

The tinned copper wire may consist of several tinned copper conductors or just one wire. Because tin is a silver-colored metal, the entire conductor has a silvery appearance. Tin is used to prevent oxidation because it is one of the most economical metals with the necessary properties.

Can The Copper Wire Be Tinned Manually?

Not really. With the help of industrial tools, copper is tinned, after the bare copper has been extracted, in a hot process called electroplating. You can tin the ends of a copper conductor at home using a stripping tool, but it will only serve you because it does not provide the full range of protection associated with a fully tinned copper conductor.

What Is The Goal Of Tinned Copper Conductors?

The goal of tinned copper conductors is to provide superior protection against corrosion and oxidation in wet environments and where metals are contaminated, increasing the formation of rust. 

Once the oxidation process begins, it is impossible to stop it and increase the runtime of the conductor, so preventing oxidation by using tinned copper conductors seems to be the most logical solution. Sometimes oxidation of copper starts as early as when it is set aside after production, or even before installation, and the process is almost invisible until it is too late, so prevention is key. An oxidized copper is no longer fit for use because it loses electrical efficiency, is prone to breakage, and is a safety risk. Oxidized copper has a distinctive green appearance.

Tinned copper not only prevents oxidation and corrosion. In some cases, tinned copper is also superior to bare copper when dealing with the effects of high temperatures, especially when temperatures exceed 100 degrees Celsius. The reason for this is that tin plating helps prevent the thermal degradation of copper. In humid and high-temperature environments, tinned copper lasts ten times longer than ordinary bare copper.

Are There Any Other Differences In Performance Between Tinned And Bare Copper?

Due to the tin content in tinned copper conductors, it is usually easier to solder than bare copper. The difference in conductivity between bare copper and tinned copper is not of concern.

Does Tinned Copper Cost More Than Bare Copper?

Due to the cost of tinned copper, tinned copper can cost up to 30% more than bare copper. However, in electrical projects subject to high temperatures, humidity, and contaminated soils, this cost difference certainly pays off.

Which Applications Are Best Suited For Tinned Copper?

The environment is a decisive factor in the tinned copper vs. bare copper debate. Tinned copper is primarily used for marine cabling that is exposed to wet environments throughout its life cycle, including shipboard cables, offshore oil rig cables, cables used in wastewater treatment facilities, and all other cables that are in constant contact with water. This is especially critical in the ocean, where salt water causes faster corrosion than fresh water. 

In addition to this, tinned copper conductors are guaranteed to be exposed to moisture when used in underground railroad systems, and any electrical work is likely to be affected by gas, oil, water, and moisture. Tinned copper is often used in most electrical work in areas where moisture is likely to be present for most of the year.

When cables are buried underground, the decision to use tinned or bare copper conductors depends on the properties of the soil. If the chemical properties of the soil are unknown, the customer decides on the best course of action, choosing between tinned or bare copper conductors. If the chemical properties of the ground are likely to cause corrosion, the best decision is to use tinned copper. However, cost considerations must also be taken into account when deciding between tinned and bare copper.

Depending on the manufacturer, high-temperature wiring for furnaces, furnaces, and electric heating equipment can be produced with tinned copper conductors, although in these cases copper plating, nickel plating, or typically soft annealed conductors are also possible as long as good thermal conductivity is available. 

Bare copper conductors perform particularly well when they are not affected by water, humidity, soil contamination, or high temperatures.

About ZMS Cable Company

At ZMS Cables, you can buy high-quality cables with tinned and bare copper conductors. This includes industrial wire, high-temperature wire, as well as all the most popular aluminum cables (XHHW, SER, SEU, RHH RHW-2 XLP USE-2, service drop, URD) and architectural copper wire (THWN-2, XHHW-2, XLP USE RHH RHW-2, UF-B, SEU, SER NM-B ROMEX) varieties. We also sell bare copper wire for overhead transmission and distribution, including bare and tinned wire.

—ZMS Cable

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