Copper vs. Aluminum for Busbars in Electrical Products Manufacturing

Copper vs. Aluminum for Busbars in Electrical Products Manufacturing

Copper vs. Aluminum for Busbars in Electrical Products Manufacturing


Busbars play a critical role in electrical systems, providing a low-resistance path for current flow. When it comes to choosing the material for busbars, copper and aluminum are the two most commonly considered options. Each material offers distinct advantages and disadvantages that should be carefully evaluated to make an informed decision. In this blog post, we will compare copper and aluminum busbars, highlighting their characteristics, benefits, drawbacks, and key considerations for different electrical product applications.

Electrical Conductivity:

Copper is renowned for its excellent electrical conductivity, which makes it an ideal choice for busbars. It boasts a conductivity of approximately 58 MS/m (mega siemens per meter), significantly higher than aluminum’s approximate conductivity of 35 MS/m. The superior conductivity of copper translates into lower resistance, reduced energy losses, and improved overall efficiency.


Current Carrying Capacity:

Another crucial factor to consider is the current carrying capacity of busbars. Copper's higher conductivity allows it to handle higher current loads without significant temperature rises. Aluminum, on the other hand, has lower conductivity, necessitating larger cross-sectional areas to achieve similar current-carrying capacities as copper. Therefore, when designing busbars for high current applications, copper is often the preferred choice.


Weight and Cost:

Aluminum is significantly lighter than copper, with a density approximately one-third that of copper. This weight advantage makes aluminum busbars easier to handle, transport, and install. Moreover, aluminum is generally more cost-effective than copper, offering potential cost savings, especially in applications where weight is not a critical factor.


Thermal Conductivity:

Copper exhibits superior thermal conductivity compared to aluminum. This property allows copper busbars to dissipate heat more efficiently, reducing the risk of hotspots and thermal stress. When dealing with high-power applications or situations where heat dissipation is a concern, copper busbars are often the preferred choice.


Corrosion Resistance:

Copper has excellent corrosion resistance, which ensures long-term reliability and durability of busbars, even in harsh environments. Aluminum, while inherently corrosion resistant, requires additional surface treatments or coatings to protect against oxidation and other forms of corrosion. It is essential to consider the environmental conditions and potential exposure to corrosive elements when selecting between copper and aluminum busbars.


Flexibility and Formability:

Aluminum is more flexible and easier to form than copper, allowing for greater design versatility and ease of installation. It can be bent, shaped, and formed into intricate configurations without compromising its electrical performance. Copper, while less malleable, is still suitable for most busbar applications but may require additional considerations during the manufacturing and assembly processes.



The choice between copper and aluminum for busbars depends on various factors such as electrical conductivity, current carrying capacity, weight, cost, thermal conductivity, corrosion resistance, flexibility, and formability. At TYE we utilize copper in most of our product manufacturing as copper offers superior electrical and thermal conductivity. This makes it ideal for high-current applications and environments that demand efficient heat dissipation.

A great example would be to look inside our modulars. Modulars and panelboards provide a similar functionality in a power distribution system. Panelboards are typically flush mounted or surface mounted and are limited to a maximum of 1,200 A incoming current (main).

Modulars are free-standing units that are front connected and, like panelboards, require only front access and are mainly used in applications of 1200A and above. (Panel boards can be used in some 1200A applications).