What is the Difference Between Copper Cable and Copper Wire?

How thick should copper cable generally be? Many people refer to insulated copper wire and cable as the same thing. But we want to clarify what most scrap yards consider copper cable. Insulated Copper Cable is generally much thicker and has a much higher copper content and recovery base.

Insulated Copper Wire:

Insulated Copper Wire

Insulated copper wires normally include items like:

  • Cat5/6 wires
  • Extension cords
  • Telephone wire
  • Low 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 (approx > 75 lbs). 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 the best stripper that works for you.

Suggested Reading: The Best Way To Strip Copper Wire

Insulated Copper Cable:

Insulated Copper Cable

Insulated copper cable generally discusses thicker gauged items like THHN 10-12 gauge and above. If you have a piece of solid copper the size of your pinky with a plastic jacket, 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 working on powerful electrical grids. Usually, we encourage anyone who collects these thicker cables to strip them to earn more money. Items like large 500/750 MCM cable (which normally gets stripped) are also considered cable but will pay a higher price because you can have a higher copper recovery from it. We generally recommend automatic strippers for these types of operations as well.

When Should You Strip Your Copper Wire & Cable?

Many of our emails that go out have great tips and are useful for everyday scrapping and general knowledge of making more money on your scrap. The following discusses whether your wire load is worth stripping down to bare bright or #2 copper wire.

Suggested Reading: Is The Scrap Worth The Strip?

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