Determining Types of Copper Wires

How Do You Know Which Type of Copper You Have?

When you are looking to collect your copper wire for the scrap yard, it is important to know how to determine the different types of copper wires before bringing it in. Almost everyone in the scrap industry knows that bare bright copper wire is the hot commodity and the highest-priced common item when going to your scrap yard. So when scrappers begin to collect electric motors and other items like Copper Yokes that contain copper wire, sometimes the color of the wire may seem like bare bright #1 copper wire.

However, the majority of the time when these wires are stripped from motors and copper yokes, the scrap yards will not buy the wire at a #1 copper price. Instead, those wires will go as a #2 copper wire price due to the shellac and covering on the outside of the wire. In the video below, you can see what Tom is referring to about the different color wires and types. Once you see them side by side you can recognize the color difference and what’s inside. You can also see if Tom thinks these wires are worth stripping.

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09/22/2023 06:32 am GMT

Different Types of Scrap Copper Wires:

  • Bare Bright Wire – The color of the wire will be a faint orange/yellow and bright color. The wire itself will have a shine to it without any oil or shellac on the outside.
  • #2 Copper Wire – The color of the wires from electric motors can range from a darker burnt orange color to reddish color. When you see the wires next to bare bright copper wire you can see the difference.
  • Tin Coat Wire – Tin coat copper wire is going to be a lower price than Bare Bright Wire. It is coated in Tin (silver in color). This is used in various types of cable to lower the percentage of copper for cost efficiency.
  • Insulated Copper Wire – This is a common type of copper wire you will normally find in electronics and appliances. Usually, it’s not worth stripping this wire for the copper inside due to the lack of recovery. But you can determine what makes sense with our stripping guide.
  • Computer Wire – These wires are going to be the ribbon wire and also board wires from inside your computer towers. Typically scrap yards will buy these wires differently compared to the regular insulated wires because they have less copper.
  • THHN Wire – Otherwise known as 10-14 gauge wire or spaghetti wire has solid copper inside. THHN is a name given that means Thermoplastic, High Heat, Nylon coated…and while that may not matter to you when scrapping, it is still a cool thing to be able to know.
  • Romex®Wire – Romex® wire a brand of housewire or non-metallic wire is electrical wiring commonly found in homes. Generally, you can make more money by stripping the wires to get to the copper. Housewire has two jackets covering the copper inside.

By separating these types of wires from each other you will be able to get the right price for both materials. If you mix your bare bright wire together, you will lose money.