Metal Monday: Copper Cable vs. Copper Wire

How thick should copper cable be? A lot of people refer to insulated copper wire/cable in the same respect…but we want to clarify what most scrap yards consider copper cable. Copper cable is generally power cable and is much thicker in the copper content and recovery base.

Insulated Copper Wire:

Insulated Copper Wire

Insulated copper wires normally include: Cat 5/6, extension cords, and other types of telephone or lower voltage wires. These are the most common types of wires that all scrappers, contractors, and electricians will collect. They are usually smaller than the thickness of your finger. We only encourage you to strip these wires when you have a large quantity of it, like over 75lbs. Otherwise you may lose about 40% of the weight of the material when stripping away the insulation and you won’t make too much of a profit. You can always look into efficiently stripping your wire with a stripper like TNT Tooling.

Insulated Copper Cable:

Insulated Copper Cable

Insulated copper cable generally talks about thicker gauged items like THHN 10 or 12 gauge and above. If you have a piece of solid copper with a plastic jacket around it that is the size of your pinky then you can consider it copper cable. These cables are used in heavier power systems. It is very uncommon for a typical scrapper to be able to collect this type of cable. Usually these cables are collected by contractors or electricians that are working on powerful electrical grids. Usually we encourage anyone that collects these thicker cables to strip them to earn more money. Items like large 750 MCM cable (which normally gets stripped) is also considered cable, but will pay a higher price because you are able to have a higher copper recovery from it. We like to use the rule of the pinky finger.

When Should You Strip Your Copper Wire & Cable?

Many of our Scrapper Tips emails that go out have some great tips in them and are useful for every day scrapping and general knowledge of making more money on your scrap. The follow discusses whether the wire load you have is worth taking the time to strip it down to bare bright or #2 copper wire. Continue reading when and how you should strip your copper…

Hope this helps shed a little light on different types of wire vs. cables.

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