Copper versus Aluminium in Electrical Installations
At present, there is an exponentially growing tendency to use aluminium (Al) instead of copper (Cu) as a conductor in electrical installations because aluminium is a considerably lighter (since Cu has a much greater density than Al) and more economical material.
Nevertheless, the advantages of copper should not be underestimated: in mechanical and electrical terms, it is superior to aluminium. Moreover, since it is a better conductor (by 66%) than the latter, the same amount of energy can be transmitted with a smaller quantity of material. For example, an electrical installation needing copper cable with a cross-sectional area of 95 mm2 would require 185 mm2 (almost double) in aluminium.
Another important feature of copper, which should be borne in mind, is its ductility. Unlike aluminium, which is not easy to bend, it is a very malleable metal.
Owing to the properties mentioned above, electric motors, as well as the different electrical devices comprising a power generator (contactors, circuit breakers, et cetera) are made with copper and for copper conductors. However, this frequently gives rise to a situation that represents a problem for enterprises: if the power generator with copper outlet connections is powering an installation with aluminium conductors, the resulting incompatibility means that the copper and aluminium cannot be connected directly, thus necessitating the addition of a bi-metal component to make the connection workable.
A further difficulty is that of space: aluminium conductors occupy almost twice as much space as copper ones do. When considering the proportions of a control panel this difference is fundamental. A further factor is that, as already mentioned, it is very difficult to bend aluminium when preparing to make the connection. Last but not least, aluminium conductors cannot be connected inside a control panel that is subject to vibrations because the connections are very quickly broken.
Inmesol’s Solution, an Electrical Fitter’s Dream
Inmesol has designed a system that solves the problem of this incompatibility between copper and aluminium. This consists of fitting out a panel so that it is readily adjustable and of easy access for both underground aluminium cables (underground electricity networks) and cable tray connections at a certain height on the generator.
Inmesol’s engineers have succeeded in producing a vibration-free panel and have designed it in such a way that connections can be made indiscriminately at either the lower or upper part of the generator, thereby ensuring a good electrical connection.