For a long time Copper Clad Aluminum (CCA) has been met with skepticism. So much that when you run a quick internet search, you may still find that it is hard to change an industry’s opinion. So hard in fact, that CCA still has to fend for its right to be used in installations in some cases. That is regardless of the fact that it has proven to be a valid solutions for certain applications.
Since new technologies need to be patient till accepted CCA is still not as widely used as it can be. But its advantages cannot be overlooked.
Since copper is naturally highly conductive with low resistance, copper conductors have been the standard since the first electric wiring system in the 1800s. Since copper is one on the most widely used metals today, its price tag keeps rising. So much that is can run around three to four time that of aluminum.
The Cladding Process
Cladding is a bimetallic process. More specifically it is a mechanical process in which solid copper is being applied uniformly. The metallurgical bond is permanent, so that the metal cannot be separated. The process itself is environmentally friendly.
CCA cable installations utilize all of copper’s benefits, for a lower cost. While a CCA wire contains less copper, it delivers virtually the same conductivity with only slightly higher resistance thanks to an electrical phenomenon called “skin effect.”
What is “Skin effect”?
It is the tendency of an alternating current at high frequencies (such as the current used in Cat5e & Cat6 cables for data transfer) to be spread in a conductor in a way that more current density is near the surface (skin) of the conductor. This density decreases as you go deeper into the conductor.
Thanks of skin effect, we can use a more economical metal for the core (such as aluminum) and copper on the outer layer to achieve essentially the same conductivity. Good quality CCA cable is one that finds the balance between the amount of copper and aluminum. Too much copper is wasteful. At the same time too little copper decreases the cable’s quality & efficiency.