PROTECTION AGAINST COPPER CORROSION
The sole purpose of electrical wire and cable is to conduct an electric current from one point to another, but if the cable starts to corrode, it can quickly become damaged and result in loss of performance. While bare copper is fairly resistant to corrosion, tinned copper conductors prevent accelerated corrosion against wet and contaminated environments.
Tinned copper is primarily used for protection against oxidation and corrosion. In climates where copper has long-term exposure to water, the oxygen will combine with the metal and form copper oxide, weakening the bonds of the metal. It is worse if the wire is in contact with salt water. As more of this oxide forms, it weakens the integrity of the copper making it brittle and crumbly. Corrosive copper wire is less efficient at moving electricity and can cause safety hazards.
TINNED COPPER APPLICATIONS
Tinned copper wire is particularly useful in wastewater treatment facilities, underground subway systems, and projects exposed to excess oil, gas, or water. Tinned bare copper is frequently used in utility projects in the Northeast and environments exposed to excess sodium-chloride salts (seawater).
When considering bare or tinned copper, the environment should be a determining factor in the wire selection process. Tinned copper can extend the life of your cable, but it isn’t easily retrofitted in all projects. Thinking ahead and planning for potentially corrosive environments can prevent total replacement jobs in the future.