What Is Tin Copper Wire?
Tin copper wire is an alternative to using bare copper wire in electrical connections. One critical difference between tinned wire and bare wire makes tinned copper wire more suitable for specific applications. If you’re unsure which type of wire would be better for your situation, this guide can help you determine the benefits of tinned copper wiring, why it’s more suitable and when it’s best to use tinned wire instead of bare wire.
What Is Tinned Copper Wire?
Tinned copper wire is copper wire coated with tin. Copper is a desirable material because it is highly conductive. However, copper is also highly susceptible to oxidation or erosion. Tin has properties that make it more durable than copper. Coating bare copper wire in tin gives the wire the conductive properties of copper while using the tin to prevent oxidation and protect the copper.
Tinned copper wire is a dull silver color and is pliable and versatile, making it ideal for corrosive environments that reach high temperatures or receive a lot of moisture. Applications, where humidity, acidity, oxygen and water can reach the wire, are ideal situations in which to use tinned copper wire.
Tin vs. Bare Wiring
Tinned and bare copper wiring are effective, depending on their environment. The most significant difference between tinned wire and bare wire is the resistance to oxidation and erosion. The metal surface of bare copper wiring chemically reacts with elements like oxygen and water, causing the metal to corrode and tarnish. When this occurs, copper turns from bronze to pale green — think of the Statue of Liberty. This process can happen quickly, and once it starts, it’s hard to stop, especially on wires.
Tin coating can significantly reduce the oxidation process. A protective tin layer can add years to a copper wire’s life, especially in high-heat applications. When a copper wire’s operating temperature gets too high, it can’t resist erosion as effectively. Tin coating can withstand high heat, making it the better option when heat is involved.
Is Tinned Wire Better?
Copper is an excellent conductor, and the bare wire has its place in specific applications. When properly taken care of and in ideal conditions, bare copper wire can be a more efficient and affordable option than tinned copper wire. However, just as there is a perfect place for bare copper wiring, tinned wiring also has its time and place.
When You Should Use Tinned Copper Wiring
Tin coating doesn’t need to substitute for copper wiring in every situation, though there are some scenarios where tinned wiring is more suitable.
- Constant exposure to moisture: Moisture can be one of the most damaging things to copper wire because it causes corrosion. In any application that may leave the wiring exposed to water, use tinned wiring. For example, any copper wiring in a water treatment plant should have tin coating to limit its exposure to the surrounding moisture.
- Electrical grounding systems: Electrical grounding systems give excess electricity a safe route back to the ground. Tinned copper wire is ideal in this application because of the potential for high temperatures. It’s also possible to use bare copper wire for electrical grounding, though it may be somewhat less safe.
- Outdoor or underground uses: In places like subway systems or where copper wiring is necessary outdoors, tinned wiring can be particularly useful. Using bare copper in these situations would expose it to weather and elements that would cause the wire to erode. Tinned wire can withstand the elements, requiring fewer replacements.
- Exposure to saltwater: Saltwater is highly corrosive, so tinned copper wire is better in situations near the ocean. The saltwater, ocean spray and moisture will quickly get to the copper. If crucial wiring eroded while out at sea, a ship’s features could malfunction. It’s best to use tinned wire on boats or other marine applications to ensure the wiring lasts as long as possible.
Anytime the wiring might encounter corrosive elements, use tinned copper wiring. Despite the extra cost, tin coating will protect the copper wiring from damage, which can be time-consuming and costly to repair otherwise. If you’re ever unsure of which option to use, its environment will be a determining factor.
Why Use Tinned Copper Wire?
The advantages of tinned copper wire are numerous. Despite the additional expense associated with tinned copper wire, the investment will pay for itself in the right situation.
Consider the following benefits of tinned copper wires.
- Works the same as bare copper wire: Tinned copper wire has the same conductivity as bare copper wire, but with extra protective coating. This characteristic allows people to use copper wire in less-than-ideal situations.
- Prevents corrosion: One of the most significant benefits of tinning copper wire is protecting the copper against rust. Many elements can degrade copper, including the oxygen in the air. Applying a tin coating to bare copper wire can help prevent erosion because tin can withstand the elements for longer.
- Extends wire life: Tin’s protective properties help extend the life of copper wiring. With a protective tin coating, copper wires can last significantly longer without signs of corrosive damage. Investing more in the right wire for the job can make the difference between frequent replacements and a long-lasting product.
- Easy to solder: Soldering is a technique used to connect wiring. Tin is a common material used in soldering, which makes tinned copper wiring easy to solder.
Shop Copper Wire and More at WesBell Electronics
If you’re searching for tinned copper wire or bare copper wire, look to WesBell Electronics. We started as a wire and cable distributor and have expanded to a wiring and cable service provider and distributor. We offer various wires and cables to meet your project’s needs. We’re even proud to offer custom services and products. With over three decades in business, our experienced team is here to help you find the products you need.
Browse our selection of products and get in touch with us if you have any questions or requests.