The increase in commodity prices force up the demand for LAN cables made of cheaper conductors.
Is it right decision to use such cables?
Should You Use or Avoid CCA Cables?
Before discussing whether you should or not use CCA cables in your projects, let’s explain few definitions about our topic of discussion.
Copper-clad aluminum conductor (CCA) cables are produced by coating a copper conductor with an aluminium conductor and cannot be named as an alloy!
Such cables are lighter than standard copper cables and their production costs are reduced dramatically because less copper is used.
Copper-clad aluminum conductor (CCA) is a type of “bimetal” made by physical bonding of two separate metals.
The cross section of a CCA cable is given in 🡶 Figure-1.
CCS cables, on the other hand, are made by coating steel conductor with copper conductor are probably the cheapest in the market.
There are several ways to identify if the conductor of a cable is CCA, CCS or 100% copper:
- Weight test
- Conductor check
- Bend test
- Flame test
- Performance test
Comparing CCA - Copper Conductors
Physical and electrical characteristics of copper and aluminum conductors are compared in 🡶 Table-1.
Table-1: Comparison of copper, aluminum and CCA conductors at 20°C.
*Percentage of copper conductor volume
The CCA conductor is basically used to save weight and cost and is theorically thought to be efficient due to the skin effect, but the mechanical resistance of aluminum in the structure of the CCA conductor is lower than copper’s mechanical resistance.
This makes CCA conductor more fragile.
It heats up faster as it has higher electrical resistance and carries a greater risk of malfunction/fire.
Zemecs products you may be interested in:
5 Reasons Why You Should Not Use CCA Cables
1. High signal loss:
2. Not suitable for PoE applications
As seen in Table-1, the resistance of CCA conductors is 55-60% higher than copper.
If the resistance is not compensated, the voltage drop will be greater for any channel length.
The amount of energy converted into heat will increase, the conductor and cable will heat up; less voltage will be transmitted to the devices and the devices may be damaged.
3. Poor flexibility and bend radius
Since aluminum has a much lower tensile strength than copper, wires can break easily. CCA cables also have a larger bend radius than cables with pure copper conductors and this makes installation of cables through ducts or around corners more difficult.
If the conductors are broken, the cable must be pulled again.
4. Oxidation and corrosion
Aluminum is a more reactive material than copper and oxidizes when exposed to air. This can lead to disconnections in short and long terms.
5. Not compliant with standards
Cables with CCA conductors perform very poorly in terms of heat resistance and do not comply with UL and TIA standards on fire safety.
This can be understood with a simple flame test: When the CCA conductor wire is lit with a lighter, it bends and breaks in a very short time, and the flame is easily transmitted to the cable sheath.
Only bare annealed solid copper conductors are used in the production of Zemecs LAN cables. Our portfolio does not include any product with CCA or CCS conductors.
CCA / CCS