Aluminum XHHW – The Preferred Choice
XHHW has become a preferred choice among buyers when it comes to cables for massive projects, and generally the preference is to buy an aluminum XHHW cable rather than the copper one. While there is nothing wrong in buying XHHW copper cables, most people buy aluminum chiefly because it is cheaper. The demand for aluminum cables, especially those which come with the XHHW stamp, are widely used for construction almost everywhere. Also, these cables are so robust that they are used in heavy construction and heavy industrial applications. In fact, statistics show that many contractors lean towards the aluminum cables rather than copper ones.
You will find that the aluminum XHHW cables are used in many applications such as general power distribution, wiring for general use, conduits and raceways where the NEC code has approved it. The XHHW cable can tolerate extreme temperatures and can withstand high heat and humidity. You will find that the copper cable also has similar characteristics and the main difference will lie in the makeup of the metal rather than the cable.
Copper cables of the same specifications come heavier than aluminum ones and they also tend to be more expensive. Also the prices of copper cables tend to fluctuate while the aluminum ones will be more constant. However, the metallic properties of copper make it a more conductive material than aluminum. So, when it boils down to the basics, the buyer has to choose between the two materials to see which would be more suitable for the project at hand. Also the 8000 series of aluminum is becoming a favorite choice among buyers.
Another major factor to be taken into consideration is the density of the two metals, which are so vastly different. The density of copper is around 559 lbs/ft^3 while that of aluminum is only 169 lbs/ft^3 which makes the current carrying capacity of copper higher than that of aluminum when taken on an equal volume. However, most users prefer aluminum as it is lighter than its copper cousins and they are also equally conductive, thanks to the alloy in it. Even though the allowable ampacity as specified by the NEC calls for at least a 50% increase in the conduit size for aluminum, people only choose copper where the need is specific.
As mentioned before, the aluminum has become a preferred choice because the alloy used has made it extremely conducive for electrical uses. Also the physical properties will also largely depend upon the type of alloy used for both copper and aluminum. So it is not really surprising to find the aluminum XHHW cables used for all kinds of wiring such as low, medium and high voltage wiring needs.
It is important to analyze the different kinds of cables before you begin working and most of the cables can be used for a wide variety of purposes. However, you need to check the amount of current, the kind of wiring and the environment in which the cable will be in before you decide on the right one.