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What is Copper Wire?
Copper is the metal most commonly used in electrical wiring. Copper has the highest electrical conductivity rating of all non-precious metals.
Copper wire is the largest market for newly mined copper, with 60% of copper use in the United States being used for electric conductivity.
What is it used for?
Copper wire is used in applications which require tight coils of wire. It can be used in a wide variety of applications, including loudspeakers, overhead lights, and telephone cords.
Factors Affecting Copper Wire Price
The reasons behind the changes in copper wire are multifaceted and interconnected:
Supply and Demand
Supply and demand has a big effect on overall copper wire price. If the supply from copper mines becomes too great, prices will drop. If supply drops, and demand picks up, prices will rise.
Developed countries are the biggest market for copper, so the overall world economy will have an effect on prices. Generally, when the economy is down, the demand will also go down, leading to prices dropping as well. When the economy is doing well, and demand is up, the copper wire price generally rises.
This has not been the case in the last few years, however. Despite the worldwide recession, prices rose 200% in the two years after hitting a low in December 2008. This can at least partially be attributed to emerging markets like China and India, who need more copper as they become more industrialized, driving down global supply and causing prices to rise.
Commodity market speculation also plays a role in fluctuations in copper wire price. Speculators tend to buy a commodity when they predict a shortage, thereby further driving down supply and increasing the price.
The actions of speculators, based purely on their own forecasts, can artificially raise the price of copper.
The copper wire price can also go up or down depending on the season, as copper is used extensively in both the housing and automotive industries, who see peak production in spring and summer. The seasons do not permanently affect the price of copper, but will have a short term effect.
American wire gauge (AWG) is used in the U.S. and Canada to represent the diameter of round, solid wire. Smaller gauge wires will have larger diameters, so the smaller the gauge the more copper the wire will require.
To give an example, a wire with a gauge of 6 will have a diameter that measures 0.1620 inches/ 4.115 millimeters. A wire with a gauge of 34 will measure 0.00630 inches/0.160 millimeters.
Given that the 6 gauge wire has a bigger diameter, it would stand to reason that the price would be greater, when, in fact, the opposite is true. Higher gauge wires actually tend to cost more than lower gauge wires simply because of the more complicated manufacturing process of winding thinner wire.
Types of Copper Wire
There are many different types of copper wire, including bare, insulated, tinned, tinsel, solid and braided.
The wide variety of types of copper wire have had an effect on price. Prices go up as different kinds of wire come into the market, including braided wire, tin coated wire, tinseled wire and tin braided copper wires. Copper wire price is affected due to the additional amount of copper these wires require..
Solid vs. Stranded Copper Wire
Solid wire, also known as solid-core or single-strand wire, is a single strand of insulated wire, while stranded wire contains multiple wires braided together.
Stranded wires are more flexible than solid wires and are easier to install. The more strands the wire has, the more flexible it will be. The minimum number of strands that a wire can have is seven, with six wires wrapped around one in the middle, but the more strands a wire has the higher the copper wire price will be.
Insulated vs. Bare Wire
Insulated wire is covered with a thin varnish/enamel or a yarn made out of polyester or fiberglass. Some common types of insulation are polyurethane, polyester, and polyamide. There are many different types of insulations and they all have different specifications, including gauge and temperature rating.
Bare wire does not contain any insulation, and therefore will cost less.
Insulation prices will vary with petroleum prices, which experience the same fluctuations as the copper industry. Higher oil prices also increase the cost of transporting the copper and the insulation, thereby driving up prices.
Pictured above: Insulated wire (left), bare wire (right)
Tinned Wire/Tin-coated Copper Wire
Tinned wire is wire coated by tin, which makes it resistant to corrosion and offers high conductivity.
Tinned wire is somewhat more expensive than bare copper wire, but the wire is more durable and will have a longer service life, decreasing the cost in the long run.
Tinsel Cu Wire
Tinsel wire is a textile core with numerous copper foil strands wrapped around it. Due to the thinness of the foil, the wire becomes extremely flexible.
Where can I buy Copper Wire?
TEMCo is the place for copper wire. We provide wires with different gauges, temperature ratings and insulations. Get your copper wire from TEMCo by viewing our selection guide below!
"I needed a 3 phase rotary phase converter to run a DoAll Mill."
The family friend I purchased the mill from had purchased one from TEMCo several years ago, and told me that's the company to deal with. Very competitive price, fast delivery, and a solid, quality product. The shipping was fast, and the phase converter was crated very well and had zero damage from shipping. This thing runs so quietly I hardly know it's running.
I HIGHLY recommend TEMCo!
- mrtriton, 3/15/10
"Excellent advice, service & product".
The staff helped determine exactly the size converter I needed, answered any questions I had thoroughly. The unit was shipped quickly & was very welled packed. The product is so well designed that installation was a breeze & the converter works great.
Got me up and running very quickly.
- Michael Hall, 3/25/11
TEMCo is proud to be an acreddited member of the Better Business Bereau Online Reliability Program.
TEMCo's Phase Converter and Transformer customers include:
American Family Radio
Navy Public Works Center
US Army Executive Service
Stanford Linear Accelerator (SLAC)
Lawrence Livermore National Labs
and many thousands more.
TEMCo products meet the demands of tough industrial applications with dependability and quality.
Since 1968, TEMCo has become a trusted name in Industrial Power Products.
More Customer Feedback
"The service was awesome."
I had many tech question and they spend about 30 mins on the phone answering all ofthem for me. It is not to often to find service like that!!!!! I am so happy and will definitly purchase from them again. A+++++
- MRZ Contracting, 1/12/12
"Perfect FAST transaction..."
They delivered the 5-HP Electric Motor IMMEDIATELY in Perfect Condition. They bent over backwards to enable us to execute payment using an alternative method, Thank You So Much. We are comming back soon for a Power Converter. ! ! !
- R. A. "BOB" KEMP, NEVADA CENTRAL RAILROAD, Henderson, NV, 11/30/11
"You guys were referred by our electrician as well as our local light/electric company."
Very friendly, very knowledgable.
- Low Country Recyclers LLC, 9/08/11